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Cooperation framework

As part of the European Border and Coast Guard Package adopted by the EU in September 2016, the founding regulations of the three agencies were amended to include cooperation between them in support of national authorities carrying out coast guard functions. This was done to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the support provided by EFCA, EMSA and Frontex to their respective stakeholders.

The amended regulations also provide an explicit legal basis for the three agencies to join forces and streamline activities to increase maritime situational awareness and response and provide tailored services to national authorities carrying out coast guard functions.

The mandate explicitly defines five areas of cooperation, but the co-legislators left it to the agencies to define how this cooperation works in practice and to formalise it in a working arrangement. This working arrangement was approved by the management board of Frontex and the administrative boards of EFCA and EMSA.

A Tripartite Working Arrangement (TWA) was then jointly developed by the three agencies and approved by their respective governing bodies, entering into force in March 2017 and being extended in March 2021 for an indefinite period. The TWA foresees the establishment of a steering committee to manage inter-agency cooperation in the five areas defined by the co-legislators.

The Steering Committee approves, before 1 September each year, the Annual Strategic Plan to implement the TWA. The plan is then submitted to the governing bodies of EFCA, EMSA and Frontex for adoption and inclusion in the single programming documents of the three agencies.

The Annual Strategic Plan outlines priorities according to the five areas of cooperation. It serves as the basis for the annual implementation plans, which define in detail the activities that each agency will implement under the coast guard cooperation framework in a given year.

Moreover, it was agreed in 2017 that the AECGE would be organised by the agency currently chairing the TWA Steering Committee. The aim of the AECGE is to consult national authorities with coast guard functions and other EU and international partners on the three agencies’ cooperation activities.