There are two broad types of agency, each with different characteristics and raising different issues.
In the interest of the entire Schengen Area EU countries must invest in the protection of the EU's external borders. For some countries, notably those situated at the external frontiers of the Union, these investments can be very large due to significant migratory pressure at their borders. The External Borders Fund (EBF) provides financial support to assist EU States in responding to such situations.
The EBF aims to establish financial solidarity between Schengen countries by supporting those countries for which the implementation of the common standards for control of the EU’s external borders represents a heavy burden. The Fund also supports actions for managing efficient controls (border checks as well as surveillance) and the flow of persons at the external borders; improving the management of activities carried out by consular authorities; building a common EU visa policy in order to facilitate legitimate travel, while tackling irregular border crossings and visa fraud.
Overall, EUR 1 820 million is allocated for these objectives over the period 2007–13. The Fund has led to significant improvements, such as to the shortening of the duration of passenger checks, modernisation of surveillance systems and development of IT systems for external border controls.
The eligible measures under the EBF include border crossing infrastructures and related buildings, infrastructures, buildings and systems required for surveillance between border crossing points and protection against illegal crossing of the external border, operating equipment (including terminals VIS, SIS), means of transport for the control of external borders, equipment for real time exchange of information between relevant authorities, ICT systems (including VIS, SIS), training and secondment programmes and pilot projects and studies.
National Programmes: the Fund is mainly implemented by EU countries through shared management. Each EU State implements the Fund through national annual programmes on the basis of multiannual programming.
Community Actions: at the Commission's initiative, up to 6% of the EBF's available resources may be used to finance transnational actions or actions of interest to the EU as a whole. In addition, a maximum of EUR 10 million a year may be used for Specific Actions, which address weaknesses at strategic points at the external borders.