Completed Research

Treatment of Third-country Nationals at the EU's External Borders

Objectives: The project examined the treatment of third-country nationals at the external borders of the European Union in light of the existing fundamental rights framework. Two specific situations were taken into consideration: (1) treatment of third country nationals on the Southern maritime borders of the European Union (Phase I) and (2) treatment of third country nationals at selected land and airport border crossing points (Phase 2). The geographical scope of the research in Phase 1 covered 7 maritime border sectors in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain. In Phase 2 ten border crossing points at the external Schengen border, including five land border crossing points (BCPs between Greece and Turkey, between Slovakia and Ukraine, between Hungary and Serbia, between Poland and Ukraine and between Spain and Morocco) and five border crossing points at selected airports (Paris C.d.Gaulle, Amsterdam/Schiphol, Rome/Fiumicino, Frankfurt and Manchester) were examined.

Phase 1's (maritime borders) objectives:
    • To enhance the protection of fundamental rights during rescue or interception operations at sea by supporting those in charge of border management to deal with the fundamental rights challenges they may encounter on a daily basis
    • To examine challenges that emerge during interception and rescue at sea and immediately after disembarkation of migrants
    Phase 2's (land and airport border crossing points) objectives:
      • To review existing procedures and practices in order to identify whether third-country nationals are treated in accordance with applicable fundamental rights standards (complementation of the Schengen Evaluation system)
      • To review if commitments related to the Schengen Borders Code (respect for human dignity, non-refoulement and non-discriminatory conduct) are respected during first and second line border checks, as well as in facilities used for persons refused admission

      Summary: Phase 1 of the study was based on qualitative research with third country nationals, authorities, fishermen and shipmasters, non-participant observation at maritime borders and focus group interviews with stakeholder groups, both in EU and third countries. Phase 2 of the study was based on non-participant observation at border crossing points, quantitative and qualitative research with third country nationals and interviews with civil society actors. The study produced the following 12 outcomes:

      • maritime border research
      • empirical case studies (phase 1)
      • seven case studies of maritime border sectors
      • five sets of country fact sheets (maritime borders), covering 7 themes
      • comparative report of fundamental rights challenges relating to surveillance and control of maritime borders
      • human rights training related to rescue and interception at sea
      • five country reports on fundamental rights training
      • recommendations for training of border guards
      • land and air border research
      • ten case studies of border crossing points
      • nine sets of country fact sheets on 4 themes
      • comparative report on border crossing points.

      More detailed information about the project can be found on the Research Unit's website.

      The following publications were produced based on the research carried out in the project.

      Implementing Agency: ICMPD

      Partners: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP); Observatorio de Inmigración en Tenerife (OBITEN) at the Universidad la Laguna; Forum Internazionale ed Europeo di Ricerche sull’Immigrazione (FIERI); European University Institute (EUI); Groupe d’études sur l’Ethnicité, le Racisme, les Migrations et l’Exclusion, (Germe) at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

      Donor: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

      Duration: December 2010December 2012


      Research Factsheet en
      Research Infosheet en