The EU-Border Protection Regime:
The Cooperation between EU Agencies and its Consequences for Fundamental Rights


Surveys regularly indicate that the level of knowledge about the European Union is rather low in the general population. This is particularly true for lesser known EU institutions like the EU agencies, which have, notwithstanding, significantly gained in number and importance over the last 15 years. Despite a multitude of research papers on individual agencies in the pertinent scientific literature, little is known about the cooperation between these agencies. This is - not least in the context of the lasting migration crisis - unfortunate, since several agencies are active in this area and have a relevant role to play in the border management of the European Union.

In the light of this research gap, it is the aim of this project, which is funded by the FWF (Austrian Science Fund - project P30703-G29), to examine the horizontal interaction between the three EU agencies in the domain of the border protection regime. The main focus is the agency Frontex, which is responsible for protecting the outer border of the EU und cooperates with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). In a first step, the question will be whether the relationship between Frontex on one side and EASO and FRA on the other is characterised by cooperation or conflict. Since the beginning critics have voiced concern of a fundamental rights nature over the modus operandi of Frontex, which is why, in a second step, a closer look will be taken on whether the interaction with these other two agencies has raised the awareness of human rights of Frontex in executing the border controls. As far as this criticism has already shown effect in the past years, it will be interesting to see whether the implemented changes are 'substantial' or just 'marginal' and in how far they have had an effect on the border protection management of Frontex.

Empirically, the project analyzes the relationship between Frontex and EASO and FRA respectively. Since these agencies have not been active for long (Frontex since 2005, FRA since 2007 and EASO since 2011), an examination of the entire duration of their existence is possible. Concurrently all relevant fields of activity of Frontex can be scrutinized, i. e. gathering and processing of information, joint border operations, education, and joint repatriation activities.

This project is the first broad study which focuses on the relationship between the border agency Frontex and her partner agencies EASO and FRA and the effects of their cooperation on the safeguarding of fundamental rights. Aside from purely academic interest in a detailed knowledge of the modus operandi of EU agencies, which are prominently involved in regulating migrational and refugee movements, this is also of salient importance for the public.

Director: Peter Slominski (Profile)
Postdoctoral Researcher: Chiara Loschi (Profile)
Funding: Austrian Science Fund FWF (Website)
Duration: 2018-2022