EU Border Security and Migration into the European Union: FRONTEX and Securitization through Practices
This paper examines the role of the FRONTEX Agency, which is in charge of managing operational cooperation at the external borders of the European Union (EU), in the securitization of asylum and migration in the EU and interrogates the extent to which it can be identified as a securitizing actor in this policy area. It does so by applying a sociological approach to the study of securitization processes, which, it argues, is better-suited to the study of securitization processes in the EU than an approach focusing on the discursive aspects of securitization. After having defined various criteria for the identification of securitizing practices, the article examines the activities and practices of FRONTEX empirically. It identifies various practices by FRONTEX, such as the coordination of joint operations, cooperation with third countries that do not have any formal relations with the EU, which fulfill the criteria of securitizing practices previously identified. The article then examines the extent to which FRONTEX is an autonomous actor and concludes that, to date, the autonomy of FRONTEX has been significantly limited and that the activities of FRONTEX have been dominated by the EU Member States to a large extent. Therefore, the paper concludes that the activities of FRONTEX have contributed to the securitization of asylum and migration in the EU. However, given the significant lack of autonomy of FRONTEX, it is more adequate to conclude that the EU Member States have securitized asylum and migration through FRONTEX, rather than identify FRONTEX as a securitizing actor in its own right. However, this may change in the future if the powers and autonomy of FRONTEX are extended.