Monday

23rd Jul 2018

EU border agency keen to expand Mediterranean Sea surveillance

  • The EU border agency Frontex says it wants to improve the 'situational awareness' in the Mediterranean Sea (Photo: Flavius Belisarius)

Spanning some 2.5 million square kilometres, the Mediterranean Sea remains largely outside the surveillance scope of member states and the Warsaw-based EU border agency Frontex.

“We do not know at present what is going on in the Mediterranean Sea. We do not know, nor do the member states,” Edgar Beugels, head of research and development at Frontex, told reporters in Brussels on Monday (18 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Beugels said the agency is looking at different technologies to increase the “situational awareness” of the EU’s external borders, including the use of drones or so-called remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).

“Remotely piloted aircraft is just one of the technologies we are looking into. At this moment we do not know if this is a technology that we could potentially give to the border guard community,” he noted.

The unmanned aircraft have the potential to fly for longer periods of time when compared to piloted planes.

Patrol aircraft have a four to five hour run time before having to return to refuel and for crew rest, explained Beugels. “Potentially, a remotely controlled aircraft can hang around for 12 hours and detect small boats where people are distress,” he said.

The EU agency says the cost effectiveness of RPAs is still relatively unknown and needs further study, however.

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s European border surveillance system, Eurosur, is set to launch in October.

The system is aimed to enhance the reaction capability of law enforcement services and provide better information of what is happening on the borders. It networks together member states and Frontex. It will not include personal data, says Beugels.

Frontex set up Eurosur’s communication network among participating member states.

The agency’s role in the system is limited but is to expand later to include obtaining and sharing information on a so-called "common pre-frontier intelligence picture [CPIP]."

“This is information that is coming from all kinds of sources like the Internet, open sources, from the member states some of which may have liaison officers in third countries,” said Beugels.

The agency deals with irregular migration flows and patterns but says it is open to flagging suspected criminal activities on the open seas as well.

“We are increasingly looking at what we called multi-purpose operations,” Izabella Cooper, Frontex’s spokeswoman, told reporters.

Cooper said Frontex is expanding its cooperation with other organisations and agencies like the Spanish-based European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

The EFCA carries out inspections to ensure member states comply with the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

But the Mediterranean is also one of the main routes used by drug runners to ship in cocaine and cannabis resin from west and north African states.

A Frontex co-ordinated operation that spots a speedboat heading towards Gibraltar from the north African coast, for example, would notify the Spanish authorities.

“If you are state authority, even if it is not your competence, you cannot just look the other way. You have the duty to inform the appropriate authority,” said Beugels.

Investigation

Frontex chief looks beyond EU borders

EU border control agency Frontex is looking to buy drones and satellite images to monitor migrant behaviour beyond the Union's borders.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

News in Brief

  1. Greece FM warns of Russian interference in Balkans
  2. Minister: No Franco-German disagreement on US tariffs
  3. UK Brexit minister warns of 'no-deal' preparations
  4. Munich: large protest against CSU's anti-migration line
  5. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  6. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  7. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  8. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Far-right Bannon to open EU campaign group
  2. Russia sanctions: test of EU commitment to international law
  3. Malta's PM cleared of Panama Paper wrongdoing
  4. EU wants answers to de-dramatise Brexit talks
  5. Juncker White House trip trumps the agenda This WEEK
  6. Italian populists try to sink EU migrant mission
  7. EU urges no-deal Brexit preparation
  8. Turkey ends state of emergency but continues crackdown

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us