On 7 October, the EU signed a border cooperation agreement with Montenegro, which allows the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to carry out joint operations and send teams to the country. This is the second status agreement signed with a non-EU country after an agreement with Albania in October 2018. Other agreements in the Balkan region are about to be concluded. The agreements on the status of Frontex have a short and rather unsuccessful past, but they certainly have a future. The agreements with the countries of the Western Balkans open a new stage of beIM through the territorial extension of The operations coordinated by Frontex to third countries. But this revolutionary development raises fundamental questions and challenges, as current practice already shows. In line with the EU`s cooperation strategy with the Western Balkan countries, status agreements were signed with five countries between 2018 and 2019, namely Albania, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. To date, three status agreements (Albania, Montenegro and Serbia) have been concluded, while the other two (with Northern Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) have not yet been signed. The status agreement with Albania is the first (and so far the only) agreement to enter into force on 1 May 2019, with the first joint operation coordinated by Frontex on the territory of a third country launched on 21 May 2019 at the Albanian border with Greece.
But back to 2016. Article 54, paragraph 4, provided that the status agreements “all aspects (…) measures necessary to implement the measures,” in particular the scope of actions, the tasks and skills of team members, civil and criminal liability issues and respect for fundamental rights. The Commission`s model status agreement was more detailed, as it included the types of transactions in third countries, the operational plan, the conditions for the exercise of executive powers, including the use of force, the privileges and immunities of team members, the suspension/cessation of operations and the settlement of disputes. This is why the Agreements on frontex status are entirely linked to the status of military agreements (SOFA) and the status of mission agreements (SOMA) concluded by the EU in the context of its military operations and civilian missions in third countries. It is interesting to note that the Commission has extended the scope of the status agreements to include measures for the return of Member States to the third country concerned.