The “refugee crisis” prompted the urge to ensure the functioning of the Schengen area and the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), the need to operationally assist those Member States most affected by the sudden and extraordinary arrival of mixed migratory flows, and the convenience to effectively and uniformly implement the European Union (EU) measures adopted in regards to migration, asylum and border management matters. This thesis analyzes the evolution of the operational tasks bestowed upon Frontex, Easo and Europol. Special attention is paid to the expansion of the legal mandates of these agencies, the reinforcement of the activities they undertake in practice on the ground, and to what extent a gap exists between these two dimensions.
From the analysis of the evolution of the operational tasks of Frontex, Easo and Europol, this thesis makes four main contributions. First, it explores the establishment and early operational functions conferred to Frontex, Easo and Europol within the institutional framework of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). Second, it defines and classifies Frontex, Easo and Europol as EU decentralized agencies, which are clearly distinguished by their operational powers. The internal administrative organization and governance of Frontex, Easo and Europol is also studied, as to determine the influence and actual control that the Member States may exert over the increasing operational powers these agencies are conferred. Third, it comparatively analyzes the reinforcement of the operational tasks vested in Frontex, Easo and Europol, as well as the extent of their assistance on the ground and influence on the implementation prerogatives of the national authorities. Fourth, it addresses the increasing bilateral and multilateral inter-agency cooperation between Frontex, Easo and Europol. In particular, the expanded multilateral and operational cooperation that takes place in the recently designed hotspots is studied.
This thesis concludes by highlighting two trends in the administration of the AFSJ, and specifically, the common border management, asylum and migration matters. On the one hand, while the new legal frameworks of Frontex, Easo and Europol continue to stress that their operational roles are limited to providing the competent national authorities with the technical assistance they may require, it has been studied that the tasks on the ground of Frontex, Easo, and, to a more limited extent, Europol, have a clear operational nature. On the other hand, Frontex, Easo and Europol are increasingly involved in guaranteeing the effective and uniform implementation of the EU migration, asylum and border management measures, as well as ensuring that the Member States do not jeopardize the functioning of the Schengen area and the CEAS.