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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article26 October 2022Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Border management: EU signs agreement with North Macedonia

North Macedonia - EU flags

Today, the European Union and North Macedonia signed an agreement on operational cooperation in border management with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Dimitar Kovačevski witnessed the signing of the agreement by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and Czech Ambassador to North Macedonia Jaroslav Ludva representing the Czech Presidency of the Council, on behalf of the EU, and by Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, on behalf of North Macedonia.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas said: “North Macedonia's ever closer cooperation on migration is part of its EU path. The signature of this status agreement with Frontex is a strong testament to this. Migration is something we can only manage by working together.“

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said: “I am glad to sign this status agreement today as it will strengthen our cooperation on migration and border management. Frontex will be able to deploy standing corps teams to work hand in hand with border guards of North Macedonia, preventing cross-border crime, in particular smuggling and trafficking of human beings, and ensuring the security of the citizens of North Macedonia and the European Union.”

Strengthened operational cooperation between Western Balkans partners and Frontex will contribute to addressing irregular migration and further enhance security at the EU's external borders. Frontex already deploys around 300 officers in the region, including via joint operations at the Union's external borders with Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia under the current status agreements. To ensure the implementation of the status agreement, an Operational Plan will be agreed directly between Frontex and the national authorities of North Macedonia. It will allow Frontex to assist North Macedonia in border management, carry out joint operations and deploy personnel both to the border with the EU, as well with borders of neighbouring Western Balkans partners. This will help to address increasing irregular migration and cross-border crime.

Next steps

The draft decision on the conclusion of the agreement will need to receive the consent of the European Parliament and then to be adopted by the Council. Once the agreement enters into force, members of the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps can be deployed to North Macedonia, subject to an operational plan being agreed between Frontex and the boder gaurds of North Macedonia.

Background

Today's status agreement is the second agreement based on the reinforced mandate of Frontex. The first was signed with Moldova in March 2022.  Similar agreements, based on an older regulation, were signed with Serbia in November 2019, with Albania in October 2018 and Montenegro in October 2019. The Commission adopted yesterday a recommendation to the Council to authorise the opening of negotiations of upgraded European Border and Coast Guard Agency's (Frontex) status agreements between the EU and Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, as well as with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The EU is committed to supporting North Macedonia both financially and operationally. Since 2007 to 2020, pre-accession support to North Macedonia for migration and border management activities amounts to around EUR 52 million. North Macedonia currently benefits from several projects strengthening the migration management and integrated border management, as well as European Union funding for foreign guest border guards and national border guards since 2016 via the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance II (IPA II). The total bilateral and regional support adopted in the area of migration and border management under IPA III so far amounts to EUR 171.7 million.

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