The European Commission supports Cyprus in migration and border management. This is done through EU funding and expertise, including the deployment of a staff member permanently based in Nicosia, alongside the permanent presence of EU agencies (Frontex, EUAA and Europol).
Memorandum of Understanding
As a response to the migration management challenges Cyprus faces, through the joint MoU the Commission, together with EUAA, Frontex and Europol, further steps up support to help Cyprus establish a well-functioning and future-proof migration management system. The MoU strengthens also the coherence and coordination of action by facilitating the gathering of necessary resources from all relevant actors on the EU and Cypriot side. Responses are coordinated based on a roadmap of priority actions through the migration management process - ranging from the reception of newly arrived migrants to asylum procedures, integration and return.
European Commission staff members
Through a dedicated Operational Coordination Platform established in 2019, the European Commission staff member deployed to Cyprus works towards ensuring a coordinated approach concerning EU support for migration management on the ground. This involves coordination with EU agencies present in the country and cooperation with national authorities and relevant stakeholders based, in line with on the jointly agreed framework of the MoU, throughout the migration management process.
European Border and Coast Guard Agency - Frontex
Frontex established its Joint Operation Ledra (formerly titled Cyprus) in August 2019, aimed to provide expertise and operational support to the Cypriot authorities on:
- migration management
- information and intelligence gathering
- cross-border crime
Frontex supports the Cypriot authorities with capacity building activities and deploys Standing Corps’ officers who assist the authorities with the screening, registration and fingerprinting of migrants, and also with document checks and debriefing.
Since 2018, Cyprus hosts border management teams deployed by Frontex at Larnaca and Paphos airports, under the Joint Operation Focal Points Air. These are composed by Standing Corps’ officers, who are integrated in the national border-guard teams to support them with checks at the external borders.
Concerning the return of migrants who were not granted international protection, the cooperation between Frontex and Cypriot authorities has been developing over the past two years. As of 2021, Frontex deploys its return specialists to support with the implementation of national return procedures and operations, and also to help Cyprus further develop relations with non-EU countries. Frontex also deploys return counsellors whose role is to inform irregular migrants about the possibilities of returning to their home countries voluntarily. Frontex support is implemented in close cooperation with the European Commission, in the context agreed with Cyprus regarding EU support for establishing a sustainable and effective national return system.
European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA)
The European Union Agency for Asylum provides operational and technical assistance to Cyprus in the framework of Operating Plans and support measures since 2014. While initially the Agency’s focus was on reception, EUAA currently also supports the Cypriot authorities with asylum registration and processing at first and second instance.
As of April 2019, Europol is present in Cyprus with a team of Guest Officers ensuring full support to the relevant authorities in terms of checks, with a focus on counter-smuggling and counter-terrorism matters.