Border management: EU signs status agreement with Montenegro

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

Today, the European Union and Montenegro have signed an upgraded agreement on operational cooperation in border management with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The agreement was signed by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and Minister of Justice Gunnar Strömmer representing the Swedish Presidency to the Council, on behalf of the European Union, and by Interior Minister Filip Adžić, on behalf of Montenegro.

The signature of this agreement is a tangible deliverable on the EU Action Plan on the Western Balkans, presented by the Commission in December 2022. Strengthened operational cooperation between Western Balkans partners and Frontex will contribute to addressing irregular migration and further enhance security at the EU’s external borders.

Frontex already deploys around 500 officers in the region, including through joint operations at the Union’s external borders with Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, as well as via the previous status agreement with Montenegro, which entered into force on 1 July 2020. Two ongoing joint operations are conducted under the previous status agreement with Montenegro, and will continue under this new agreement.

The new agreement will allow Frontex to support Montenegro through the deployment of personnel to its borders with its neighbouring Western Balkans partners, in addition to the country’s border with the European Union (as it was the case under the previous agreement).

Next steps

The agreement will enter into force provisionally on 1 July 2023. From this date, Frontex will be allowed to deploy further staff on the territory of Montenegro, subject to an operational plan being agreed between Frontex and the border police of Montenegro.

The final entry into force of this agreement is subject to the consent of the European Parliament and the Council and the conclusion of the national ratification procedure in Montenegro.


Today’s status agreement is based on the reinforced mandate of Frontex that was adopted in 2019. Under the new agreement, Frontex Standing Corps can be deployed anywhere on the territory of the third country, and not only at the third country’s border with the European Union. It also foresees an independent fundamental rights monitor embedded in every Frontex operation deployed on the basis of the status agreement. The first of such status agreements was signed with Moldova in March 2022 and the second with North Macedonia in October 2022. In October 2022, the Council authorised the Commission to negotiate status agreements with Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Similar agreements, based on an older Regulation, were signed with Serbia in November 2019 and with Albania in October 2018, besides the one signed with Montenegro in October 2019.

On 5 December 2022, the Commission presented an EU Action Plan on the Western Balkans. The Action Plan identifies 20 operational measures structured along 5 pillars: (1) strengthening border management along the routes; (2) swift asylum procedures and support reception capacity; (3) fighting migrant smuggling; (4) enhancing readmission cooperation and returns as well as (5) achieving visa policy alignment. The measures aim to strengthen the cooperation on migration and border management with partners in Western Balkans in light of their unique status with EU accession perspective and their continued efforts to align with EU rules.

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