Normative Power FRONTEX? Assessing Agency Cooperation with Third Countries

TARN Working Paper No. 15/17

22 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2017

Date Written: November 2017


Human rights groups frequently criticise FRONTEX and the legality of the agency’s operations has been questioned in scholarly literature. At the same time, recent studies have shown that humanitarian concerns are increasingly emphasised in FRONTEX’s rhetoric. Drawing on Manners’ concept of ‘Normative Power Europe’, and Niemann and de Wekker’s framework for empirical analysis of normative power Europe, this paper assesses FRONTEX’s cooperation with third countries with a focus on one norm: respect for fundamental rights. It examines to what extent the agency shows a genuine commitment to the implementation of fundamental rights and to what extent the agency is acting in a normative way, i.e. applying universal norms and showing willingness to listen to and learn from the experiences of third countries. The analysis suggests that that the agency has moved towards a more genuine commitment towards fundamental rights implementation and that there is a fair degree of inclusivity and reflexivity to third country cooperation. However, the possibility of internal conflicts of interest as well as discrepancies between what is stated on paper and what is happening on the ground may stand in the way of the agency’s exercising normative power.

Keywords: Agencies, EU External Dimension, FRONTEX, Fundamental Rights, Normative Power

Suggested Citation

Ekelund, Helena, Normative Power FRONTEX? Assessing Agency Cooperation with Third Countries (November 2017). TARN Working Paper No. 15/17, Available at SSRN: or

Helena Ekelund (Contact Author)

Linnaeus University ( email )

Växjö, S-35195

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