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Project News: FReM III publishes assessment report on functionality of the Frontex pool of forced-return monitors

20 November 2020

The Forced-Return Monitoring III (FReM III) project just released a report on the Assessment of the Day-to-Day Operations and Management of the Pool of Forced-Return Monitors at Frontex. The assessment was based on a multi-method study.

On 7 January 2017, the pool of forced-return monitors (Pool) was established by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), in line with Article 29 of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 in force at the time, and on the basis of the outcomes of the Forced-Return Monitoring I project (FReM I). The Pool consists of monitors from the bodies in Member States responsible for carrying out forced-return monitoring activities in accordance with Article 8(6) of Directive 2008/115/EC.

Since the Pool was established, the FReM II and FReM III projects have been supporting Frontex in institutionalising the Pool within the structures of the Agency. One of the aims of the FReM III project is to hand over to Frontex in 2021 the full conceptualisation of the approach for the management of the Pool and all related procedures and activities. In order to prepare the grounds for the handover, the FReM III project team conducted an assessment of how the Pool currently functions and specifically to:

  1. better understand and describe how the Pool operates and how it is managed; and
  2. identify possible gaps and needs, along with good practices, in its operations and management, in order to suggest possible approaches to improve the day-to-day management, sustainability, transparency and independence of the Pool.

The assessment was based on a multi-method study which included, among others, semi-structured interviews with key Frontex staff and an online survey for forced-return monitors of the Pool. Some of the main findings and recommendations from the survey are:

  • The procedures and criteria for nominating monitors to the Pool should be more effective and transparent.
  • The training offered to the monitors of the Pool should be more frequent, focus on additional practical training and training on drafting monitoring reports.
  • The monthly calls for monitors should include more information and the related communication and information sharing with monitors should be more efficient.
  • The number of monitors nominated for deployment should be increased, while the criteria for selection should be more transparent.
  • As part of the preparation for upcoming return operations, monitors should receive more and timely information; and there should be more time between receipt of operational information and the actual start of the return operation.
  • The reporting format for the Pool should become more user-friendly and the overall communication and the feedback to monitors regarding their monitoring reports should be more effective.
  • The reimbursement procedures should be less cumbersome and provide for uniform compensation for monitors’ working time including a standardised monitoring fee.

The FReM III project is already addressing some the findings and recommendations from the assessment with the available capacities. 

To access the executive summary, the full assessment report and its annexes, please click on the links below:

More information on the Forced-Return Monitoring III (FReM III) project can be found here.