The agreement concerns binding rules on search and rescue operations, and on the identification of migrants intercepted at sea in order to enable Frontex to respond more effectively and to prevent deaths at sea. The text defines ‘emergency phases’ for search and rescue operations and places a clear duty upon units participating in Frontex operations to engage and to save lives. The rules on search and rescue operations and the disembarkation of migrants will only cover operations that are co-ordinated by Frontex. This should help to dispel confusion created by EU member states’ differing interpretations of international law and practices.
The ‘operational plan’ governing Frontex-co-ordinated border surveillance operations must now include procedures to ensure that persons needing international protection, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable persons are identified and given appropriate help.