a new Belgian law authorizes Frontex to act on its territory, associations denounce the vagueness of its implementation

This law allows border guards from the European agency Frontex to carry out checks on its territory as well as expulsions. The text worries many associations.


Reading time: 2 min


It is called the “Frontex law”, and it is controversial in Belgium. Adopted on May 2 by Belgian deputies, it authorizes personnel from the European agency Frontex – that is to say the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – to intervene in Belgium.

Its staff, mainly responsible for controlling migration to the European Union, will in the future be able to carry out border controls on Belgian territory. For example in ports, airports, international train stations. They will also be able to carry out forced expulsions of people in an illegal situation, in support of the kingdom’s police. On site, the text worries many associations. They denounce the vagueness surrounding its implementation.

Until now, Frontex agents were more used to intervening at Europe’s external borders, in countries said to be on the front line facing the arrival of refugees: in Greece, Italy, Croatia, and even Bulgaria. But with this new Belgian law, their dark blue uniform should soon be visible in the kingdom’s ports, airports and international railway stations. Up to 100 Frontex agents could thus be deployed at the same time on Belgian territory to carry out possible expulsions of people in an irregular situation.

Associations denounce “legal insecurity”

But what latitude will they have to act? It is the lack of answers to this question that concerns many associations. Cécile Vanderstappen is responsible for research and advocacy on migration justice within CNCD-11.11.11, a Belgian platform of international solidarity associations. According to her, the rights of those arrested are not guaranteed by the text. “In certain emergency situations, Frontex agents will be able to arrest people checked in an irregular situation while waiting for a Belgian police officer to come to the scene and take over.”

“What worries us is precisely this time when Frontex agents are in total autonomy. There is legal insecurity in these moments of autonomy.”

Cécile Vanderstappen, of the CNCD-11.11.11

at franceinfo

Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden responds that the rights of migrants will be respected, thanks to the permanent surveillance of the Belgian police, she explained to our colleagues at RTBF. “Each intervention by Frontex agents will be carried out under the supervision of federal police collaborators. This is very important because we want everything to be done with clarity and certainty that it is always people who will assist and facilitate our police.”

The associations are still not convinced. Is it really a reinforcement for the police if Frontex personnel have to be monitored by them, they ask. Before recalling the sulphurous reputation of the European border guards and coast guards, regularly accused of mistreatment of refugees and of complicity in pushback operations, particularly in the Aegean Sea, in defiance of international law.

source site-33