Federal Council adopts dispatch on expanded European Border and Coast Guard Agency

Bern, 26.08.2020 - During its meeting on 26 August 2020, the Federal Council approved the dispatch on the adoption and implementation of the revised EU regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) will thus be given a more robust mandate to work with the national authorities to better protect the Schengen external borders. The protection of Switzerland's borders will continue to be guaranteed.

Ensuring that the Schengen/Dublin system works is of great importance for security across Europe, including Switzerland. A prerequisite for this is effective border protection at the external borders of the Schengen Area, in order to strengthen internal security within Europe. New measures to protect the Schengen external borders were envisaged with the establishment of the European Border and Coast Guard in 2016. As the deployment of personnel and the provision of equipment by the Schengen states were voluntary, bottlenecks occurred and impaired the effectiveness of assignments. The revision of the EU regulation aims in particular to remedy these shortcomings and to provide Frontex with sufficient staff and equipment to enable it to carry out its tasks in the area of border management and returns more effectively. In addition, the mandate to support the Schengen states in the area of returns and cooperation with third countries will be strengthened. The individual Schengen states will retain primary responsibility for the protection of their external borders, but will receive support from Frontex. Decisions on returns and administrative detention are also the sole responsibility of the individual countries.

The expansion of Frontex also aims to further improve the fight against cross-border crime and illegal migration at the external border. Switzerland will benefit from this too. At the same time, persons in need of protection can be identified more effectively with more efficient border management.

Further development of Switzerland's migration policy

The expansion of Frontex is an important element in the further development of Switzerland's migration policy. Switzerland has long been committed to a sustainable reform of the Dublin system and a fair distribution of responsibility for asylum seekers. It supports those Schengen states which are exposed to high migratory pressure at the external borders. The regulation likewise provides for the extension of the protection of fundamental rights by Frontex in favour of migrants.

Switzerland participates in Frontex assignments

In order to ensure the necessary staffing levels, Frontex will set up a standing corps made up of up to a maximum of 10,000 operational staff between 2021 and 2027. During the negotiations on the revised regulation, Switzerland successfully advocated that the size of the standing corps be reviewed in 2023. The standing corps will include operational staff members from Frontex and from the Schengen states under long-term secondments or deployed for a short time.

Switzerland already participates in Frontex operations and maintains a national pool of experts for this purpose. Each year until 2027, it is expected to provide Frontex with up to 16 staff members for a period of two years and up to 59 for a period of up to four months, meaning that a maximum of 39 Swiss experts would be deployed annually. The Federal Customs Administration (FCA), the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the cantons provide the majority of this personnel. As part of the ongoing development and digitalisation of the FCA through the DaziT transformation programme, the necessary staffing flexibility for such assignments is to be created by increasing efficiency at the Swiss border.

Assistance with returns

Frontex will be able to assist the Schengen states with all aspects of the return of persons staying illegally. For instance, the new mandate includes assistance with voluntary returns and the procurement of travel documents.

Higher budget and no change to cost formula

Switzerland will continue to contribute to Frontex's budget on a proportional basis, in accordance with the current cost formula. As the EU intends to provide Frontex with a larger budget, Switzerland's proportional contributions to Frontex will also increase. According to current calculations, Switzerland's contributions will therefore increase gradually and are expected to be between CHF 36 and 68 million in 2024. However, it is impossible to obtain exact figures at the moment, as negotiations regarding the EU's multiannual financial framework for 2021 to 2027 have not yet been finalised, and the results of the 2023 review may also impact the budget.

Address for enquiries

Federal Customs Administration FCA, Media Office
Tel. +41 58 462 67 43, medien@ezv.admin.ch

State Secretariat for Migration SEM, Information and Communication
Tel. +41 58 465 78 44, medien@sem.admin.ch


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Justice and Police

State Secretariat for Migration

Federal Department of Finance