Today, the European Union signed an agreement with Serbia on border management cooperation between Serbia and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. The agreement was signed on behalf of the EU by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship and by Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland and President of the Council and, and on behalf of the Republic of Serbia by Nebojša Stefanović, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship said: "I would like to thank Serbia for its efforts and commitment to ensure closer cooperation with the EU on border and migration management. This is in the interest of both Serbia and the EU. With the agreement signed today, we are further strengthening our relations with Western Balkan partners, bringing this neighbourhood closer to the EU."
Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland said: “Cooperation with our partners in the Western Balkans is essential to ensure the successful management of our common borders. Through this agreement Frontex will be able to coordinate operational cooperation between EU member states and Serbia, and provide support and expertise which will bring benefits for all."
This agreement allows the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to assist Serbia in border management, carry out joint operations and deploy teams in the regions of Serbia that border the EU, subject to Serbia's agreement.
These activities aim at tackling irregular migration and cross-border crime, and can involve the provision of increased technical and operational assistance at the border.
Strengthened cooperation between priority third countries and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will also contribute to further enhancing security at the EU's external borders.
The draft decision on the conclusion of the agreement will be sent to the European Parliament, which needs to give its consent for the agreement to be concluded.
Today's status agreement is the third such agreement to be concluded with a partner country, after similar agreements were signed with Albania in October 2018 and Montenegro in October 2019. Negotiations with Serbia were concluded in August 2018 and the draft status agreement was initialled by Commissioner Avramopoulos and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Nebojša Stefanović on 20 September 2018. The Council then authorised the signature of the agreement on 22 January 2019.
The European Border and Coast Guard launched its first-ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country in Albania on 22 May this year.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency can carry out deployments and joint operations on the territory of neighbouring countries, subject to the prior conclusion of a status agreement between the European Union and the country concerned.
The European Parliament and the Council have recently adopted a new regulation to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard, following a proposal by the European Commission. This will allow for joint operations and deployments to take place in countries beyond the EU's immediate neighbourhood.
Cooperation with third countries is an important element of the European integrated border management concept. This concept is applied through a four-tier access model which includes: measures in third countries, measures with neighbouring third countries, border control measures and measures within the Schengen area.
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Press release: European Border and Coast Guard: Agreement reached on operational cooperation with Serbia
Status agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Serbia on actions carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in the Republic of Serbia