Frontex Working Arrangements: Legitimacy and Human Rights Concerns Regarding ‘Technical Relationships’
Lecturer and Research Assistant at the Department for European, International and Comparative Law, University of Vienna; PhD Candidate in Law, University of Vienna. The author would like to thank Dr Timo Tohidipur for his helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.
Practices of extraterritorialisation have become cornerstones of the European Union member states' border control. Most of them are highly dependent on the willingness of third countries to cooperate. An increasingly important phenomenon is that cooperation is secured through relationships established by administrative authorities. This article deals with the challenges arising from the active engagement of Frontex in setting up cooperation structures.
It is argued that the so-called working arrangements concluded between Frontex and the respective authorities of third countries, in their current form, show considerable deficiencies from the perspectives of the rule of law, democracy and human rights protection. They are not open to judicial review, the Parliament is not involved in their conclusion and they are not disclosed to the public. Furthermore, the human rights record of cooperating authorities is not considered. Concerns in this respect are frequently attempted to be dispelled by recourse to the 'technical' as opposed to 'political' nature of working arrangements. Likewise, it is assumed that merely 'technical relationships' cannot affect individuals. These arguments are not convincing. Quite the contrary, the political implications of working arrangements and their operation in a highly human rights sensitive field demand conformity with the fundamental values the European Union is based on.