22 Mar 2007

The EU Border Management Strategy: FRONTEX and the Challenges of Irregular Immigration in the Canary Islands

Sergio Carrera

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The EU is developing a border management strategy aiming at an “integrated and global response” to the challenges posed by the phenomenon of irregular immigration through the common external borders. “The Southern maritime borders” constitute one of the main targets addressed by this strategy. On November 2006, the European Commission published a communication calling for the reinforced management of the EU’s Southern maritime borders and for the maximisation of the capacities of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union – FRONTEX. This paper provides some reflections about these current policy approaches by looking at the nature, scope and practical implications of the implementation of the Integrated Border Management strategy and its relationship with a common EU immigration policy. After assessing the latest policy developments in these areas, we raise a number of questions about some of the functions and capacities carried out by FRONTEX, and present a series of vulnerabilities characterising the joint operations coordinated by this Community body taking the example of the operations HERA I, II and III in the Canary Islands (Spain).