Last week visit to Frontex was organized by CES student, Aurélien Pommier in his capacity as an Ambassador to Poland for the European Student Think Tank (EST). Aurlienne is a 1st year MA student of the Polish-French double degree programme with the Institut d’Etudes Politiques at the University of Strasbourg.
Below are his thoughts, impressions and ideas on Frontex as an agency that plays central role in resolving some of recent crisis in Europe and what recent changes mean for it’s activities.
On Friday 17th of March, a group of 20 students visited the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Among the group, the majority (12 students) was from the Centre for European Studies –CES– of Jagiellonian University.
This visit to Frontex was organised to acquire a better knowledge of this European Agency which has a growing importance, especially since the migration crisis.
As scheduled, we were received in the Frontex building (Plac Europejski 6, Warsaw) at 11: am and accompanied in a conference room of the agency.
Krzysztof Borowski, Public Relations officer at Frontex, held the presentation. This presentation covered several topics as the new regulation of October 2016 and the related new mandate and powers for the agency, but also the joint operations currently in action (Triton and Poseidon) and the principles migrations routes to Europe. A special attention was made to the creation of a rapid reaction pool of 1500 agents deployable within 5 days to react in case of emergency and to the role of Fundamental Rights during Frontex operations. This presentation was a very good insight into the role of Frontex as the cooperation platform between Member States regarding management and monitoring of external borders of the Union.
The session was following by a presentation of videos aiming to make us understand the reality in the field, especially regarding the danger that migrants undergo during their attempt to reach the European Union. Part of the video was quite harsh, but represent the reality known by coast guards.
Finally, a large room was left to questions and answers, but that was just enough to answer all interesting questions raised by students. This question answers session bring us on the topic of EU/Turkey statement and its danger today, the new intervention capacity of Frontex, but also the everyday life of an employee of Frontex, as some students showed an interest in job opportunities proposed by the Agency. Our host uses this interest to point out that the Frontex agency planned to extend in the following years and that more and more job opportunities will be offer. However, possibilities of internship are highly competitive.
At the end, some booklets about the agency were offered as well as Frontex’s notebooks and pencils.
This presentation of the Agency was very interesting in the sense that it gave us a real insight in the operations of Frontex and also taught us that Frontex as such has no real initiative, as all rely on the cooperation of Member States. However, the new regulation about the Agency tried to provide more autonomy and power, by the possibility of buy and lease their own materials and this rapid reaction pool in case of emergency situation. To sum up, Frontex was provided with more tools and means to tackle situation as migration crisis, and carry out operation more efficiently.
Following this visit of Frontex, all the CES students remain with the group for a common lunch break and a quick visit to the Information Point of the European Union representation in Warsaw.
In the information point, many materials about the European Union waited for us.
This visit was the chance to explain the principal aim of those European Union Representations, educate and inform about the European Union, and point out that they are present in most big cities of the Union.
The study trip organised by the European Student Think Tank finished after it, and all the people enjoyed the rest of the day to discover the capital of Poland.