Regulation 2019/1896 broadens the scope of status agreements and makes adjustments that already require changes to the existing model agreement and the Commission`s status agreements. It should contribute to bringing frontex`s extraterritorial activities closer to EU legislation and fundamental rights standards. In any case, the recent revision of Frontex`s mandate is likely to lead to more status agreements with third countries. One of the recurring concerns of operational cooperation in third countries on the basis of current and future status agreements is to ensure the necessary consistency with EU law and fundamental rights standards. Due to the exercise of executive powers and the possible use of force, all agreements contain fairly detailed provisions on the privileges and immunities of team members, with standard rules being largely duplicated in EU SOFAs/SOMAs (see below). Two aspects must be taken into consideration here. Firstly, the agreements concluded with Albania and Serbia, in accordance with the EU standard SOFA/SOMA templates, ensure that team members cannot be required to testify before the competent authority of the third country. On the other hand, under the agreement concluded with Montenegro, team members may be required, under certain conditions, to provide evidence under national procedural law. Secondly, the possibility of lifting immunity and subjecting a team member to another jurisdiction does not appear to apply to Frontex`s statutory staff. This is probably a gap in accountability to the Agency`s operational staff, which is probably contrary to the requirement in the Frontex Regulation that the Staff Regulations cover the civil and criminal liability of team members. One of the most sensitive aspects addressed in status agreements concerns the exercise of executive powers, including the use of force by team members.

It is interesting to note that only the agreement with Albania defines executive powers as “the powers necessary for the performance of the tasks necessary for border control and repatriation operations which (…) in the course of a joint action in accordance with the operational plan` (Article 2(12)). The press release announcing frontex`s first joint operation in Albania states that such executive powers may relate, for example, to the execution of border controls and the prevention of unauthorized entry. All other agreements contain a rather vague horizontal provision, which states that all members of the team are entitled to “exercise the mission and enforcement powers necessary for border controls and return operations”. It would therefore be reasonable for the tasks and executive powers of the team members to be clearly and comprehensively defined in the response plan for each measure. The general principles governing the exercise of powers by team members include (1) compliance with the legislation of the third country and (2) action on instructions and in the presence of competent third-country personnel. Exceptionally, the competent authority of a third country may authorise the members of the team to act on their behalf. * This designation does not affect positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on Kosovo`s Declaration of Independence. SOFIA – Bulgaria is the only country blocking the signing of a border management agreement between North Macedonia and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – EURACTIV reports. This approval follows the entry into force of a standstill agreement with Albania last May, while the agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia have yet to be ratified by national governments and approved by the European Parliament. The agreements allow Frontex to conduct operations on the territories of these other states. In her agreement on the status agreements, the rapporteur, Ms Vollath, emphasises that these return operations only concern expulsions outside the territory of the European Union, an important clarification given that the Commission`s initial proposal for the 2019 Frontex Regulation involved helping Frontex to coordinate return operations from one third country to another, a proposal that was popular with Member States but was rejected by Parliament.