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'Frontex should have confined itself to a supportive role'

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is currently facing serious criticism. Over a short space of time, it has been significantly expanded. And the larger the Agency becomes, the more often it comes under fire.

Jorrit Rijpma

The most notable expansion of Frontex concerns the deployment of its own border guards. However, this is certainly not the only issue. Since the refugee crisis in 2015, its mandate has been considerably enlarged. The Agency now has a greater role in the deportation of people who are not entitled to asylum.

Jorrit Rijpma, Professor of European Law, says in Dutch newspaper Trouw that it would have been better if Frontex had confined itself to just providing support. When Frontex was first set up, Rijpma studied it as part of the research for his PhD thesis.  'At the time it was a border agency that only coordinated the work of the national border guards, so there were no actual “boots on the ground”. That had a major advantage. At the time, you could still consider Frontex to be a positive authority.  Many problems at the borders were in the hands of the national border guards. Now there was an organisation that was keeping an eye on them.'

Deploying their own border guards changed that, says Rijpma. 'From one moment to the next, Frontex had the authority itself to stop migrants but also, for example, to carry arms. That is taking matters very far indeed, since it is normal that the monopoly on the use of force lies with the State itself, and the European Union is not a State.'

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