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8 key requirements for monitoring fundamental rights at EU external borders

EU flag as ribbon behind a couple at border control
Visual Generation ©, 2022
An integral part of managing the EU’s external borders is respect for people’s fundamental rights. A new guidance from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) suggests how EU countries should set up independent national schemes to monitor fundamental rights compliance at the EU’s external borders.

All people entering the EU should be treated with dignity. This applies to the initial contact with authorities to the conditions at reception facilities and immigration detention centres. It also applies to processing applications, referrals or returns at borders, as well as access to justice.

In addition, authorities need procedures in place to respectfully deal with large numbers of arrivals.

EU countries should set up adequate mechanisms to monitor fundamental rights compliance at the EU borders. To be effective, FRA drew up eight key markers for national monitoring bodies, outlined in its latest guidance. They should have:

  1. full independence and autonomy to carry out their work;
  2. a broad mandate to monitor all aspects of border operations at any time;
  3. sufficient powers to have unimpeded access to monitor operations and records as and when the need arises;
  4. relevant multidisciplinary fundamental rights and migration legal knowledge and expertise at its disposal to handle a broad range of situations such as dealing with children to handling vulnerable people;
  5. adequate resources and funding to work effectively;
  6. the ability to be transparent and report on its work, including making recommendations;
  7. the capacity to work together with existing monitoring mechanisms;
  8. the duty to be consulted and informed by national border and migration authorities as they themselves carry out their own work.

The European Commission proposed new rules to monitor fundamental rights at the EU’s external borders. This includes setting up national fundamental rights monitoring systems.

The Commission asked FRA to draw up guidance for EU countries on how best to set up such systems.