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Regional / International / Bilateral / Multilateral Cooperation

Cooperation agreements and mechanisms

European Coast Guard Function Forum

Cooperation agreements and mechanisms

Across Europe, there are many long-standing regional/international/bilateral/multilateral cooperation agreements and/or mechanisms covering a wide range of maritime-related issues. Most of these agreements cover some aspects of coast guard functions and many of them stretch beyond European boundaries and may involve a number of third countries. There is also a wide variety of more local agreements and mechanisms between neighbouring countries on a bilateral or multilateral basis.

The legal basis, scope, complexities, obligations, sanctions, etc. associated with all of these mechanisms varies considerably. Some might have a strong legal basis with clearly defined obligations and a limited number of contracting parties. Other mechanisms might be voluntary in terms of participation, non-binding in terms of obligations, and be open to a wide group of stakeholders. The Handbook does not aim to categorise the mechanisms or quantify any obligations on participants, but to provide an overview by listing the mechanisms, their general field of activity and their stakeholders.

To give an appreciation of the wide variety of such mechanisms, the Handbook and the accompanying catalogues and factsheets map and list some of the main agreements, along with a selection of other bilateral and multilateral arrangements. This list, which will be provided through the dedicated online platform, includes a short high-level description of each mechanism and a hyperlink to the relevant website, where applicable. In addition, the countries participating in or associated with each agreement are also listed.

While the list is not meant to give a complete picture of every single agreement in place, it does offer a broad representative sample of what has already been developed and implemented. This provides Handbook users with elements that could be a basis for developing their own mechanisms; this is a core principle and one of the aims of the Handbook.

Also notable is the European Union Maritime Security Strategy, as one of the EU’s overarching instruments for maritime multilateralism. It promotes a comprehensive, cross-sector and cross-border, coherent and cost-efficient approach at European, regional, and national level.

Since the amendment of their founding regulations, the three agencies have supported initiatives on coast guard cooperation at a regional level, such as the ECGFF and the Mediterranean Coast Guard Functions Forum (MCGFF).


European Coast Guard Functions Forum

The European Coast Guard Functions Forum is a self-governing, non-binding, voluntary, independent, and non-political forum, with experience of border control. It brings together coast guard authorities from 22 EU Member States and two Schengen Associated Countries, as well as representatives of the EU institutions and bodies with competencies related to EU coast guard functions.

The Commission and the agencies have supported the ECGFF since its establishment in 2009. The Forum has a rotating chairmanship responsible for implementing an annual programme defined at the start of the chairmanship. The agencies support the implementation of this work programme by co-leading thematic workshops.

The agencies also take part in various specific projects implemented by the ECGFF to ensure continuity and compatibility with their work.