Three European Agencies support the national authorities in performing their coast guard tasks, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA). While the three Agencies have quite diverse tasks, the common domain in which they operate naturally drives them to team up and search for synergies.
As part of the Border package, adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the mandates of Frontex, EFCA and EMSA were amended, requiring them to work together in 5 areas to provide more efficient and cost-effective support to the MS authorities carrying out coast guard functions. These areas are information sharing, surveillance and communication services, capacity building, risk analysis and capacity sharing.
In parallel to the adoption of the Border Package, the European Parliament launched a pilot project “Creation of a European Coast Guard Function” to provide a test bed for the enhanced cooperation amongst the three Agencies and the Member States authorities. The pilot project aimed at creating operational and technical synergies between different Coast Guard functions at EU level particularly between EMSA, EFCA, and Frontex.
The project activities were clustered into four tasks:
- Sharing Information – coordinator EMSA: The objective of Task 1 of the Pilot Project was to explore and demonstrate how this can be addressed. More specifically the objectives of Task 1 were to list the services used for the purposes of maritime surveillance for which the three Agencies are already cooperating and sharing data and to extend and intensify the sharing of information services in the framework of the project.
- Surveillance Services – coordinators EMSA and Frontex: In line with this, EMSA led a demonstration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and Frontex tested its Aerial Surveillance based on fixed wing aircrafts (FWA). The main objective of the RPAS demonstration was to test the capabilities of RPAS and to establish whether they could effectively support multipurpose missions relevant to the mandates of the three Agencies e.g. marine pollution monitoring and detection, search and rescue, border control, fisheries control, etc.
- Capacity Building – coordinator EFCA: The general objective of Task 3 coordinated by EFCA was to support national authorities carrying out
coast guard functions at national, Union and international level by elaborating guidelines, recommendations and best practice with a view to enhancing the exchange of information and cooperation on coast guard functions. More specifically the objectives under Task 3 were to develop an outline of Guidelines on inter-EU Agencies cooperation, including practical information, contact details, operational setup, best practices and expertise available in the three Agencies, to assess the feasibility of voluntary staff exchange, and to assess the added-value of attending training courses provided by other parties and of organising joint training courses for various stakeholders.
- Capacity Sharing (multipurpose operations) – coordinator Frontex and EFCA: Another area in which the Border Package foresees enhanced interagency cooperation is sharing of capacity, assets and other capabilities across sectors and borders in support of coast guard functions. To that end, Task 4 of the Pilot Project, coordinated by Frontex and EFCA, provided the test bed for the planning and implementation of multipurpose operations (MPOs). The objectives of this task were to test as many platforms, procedures and information protocols as possible in the framework of the project, to gain operational experience in order to refine and enhance future activities and to validate multipurpose operations concepts namely chain of command, tasking and reporting and cooperation on the scene of action (SOA).
Further information may be found herebelow: