On 16 September 2016, the Official Journal published Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2016 on the European Border and Coast Guard and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC. The Regulation establishes a European Border and Coast Guard to ensure the effective implementation of European integrated border management. The European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (‘Frontex’) will be expanded and renamed the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (the ‘Agency’), which will continue to be commonly referred to as Frontex.

Frontex will remain the same legal person, with full continuity in all its activities and procedures. The key role of the Agency will be to establish a technical and operational strategy for implementation of integrated border management at Union level; to oversee the effective functioning of border control at the external borders; to provide increased technical and operational assistance to Member States through joint operations and rapid border interventions; to ensure the practical execution of measures in a situation requiring urgent action at the external borders; to provide technical and operational assistance in the support of search and rescue operations for persons in distress at sea; and to organise, coordinate and conduct return operations and return interventions.

The European Border and Coast Guard will consist of the Agency and national authorities which are responsible for border management, including coast guards to the extent that they carry out border control tasks. As such it will rely upon the common use of information, capabilities and systems at national level and the response of the Agency at Union level.

European integrated border management will be implemented as a shared responsibility of the Agency and the national authorities responsible for border management, including coast guards to the extent that they carry out maritime border surveillance operations and any other border control tasks. While Member States retain the primary responsibility for the management of their external borders in their interest and in the interest of all Member States, the Agency will support the application of Union measures relating to the management of the external borders by reinforcing, assessing and coordinating the actions of Member States which implement those measures.

The Agency will contribute to preventing and detecting serious crime with a cross-border dimension, such as migrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings and terrorism, where it is appropriate for it to act and where it has obtained relevant information through its activities. It should coordinate its activities with Europol as the agency responsible for supporting and strengthening Member States’ actions and their cooperation in preventing and combating serious crime affecting two or more Member States. Cross-border crimes necessarily entail a cross-border dimension. Such a cross-border dimension is characterised by crimes directly linked to unauthorised crossings of the external borders, including trafficking in human beings or smuggling of migrants. That said, Article 1(2) of Council Directive 2002/90/EC (4) allows Member States not to impose sanctions where the aim of the behaviour is to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants.

European integrated border management does not alter the respective competences of the Commission and Member States in the customs area, in particular regarding controls, risk management and the exchange of information.