Terms of Reference

Flag of Ireland and Irish Coast Giard

The European Coast Guard Functions Forum1 is a non-binding, voluntary, independent and non-political forum whose membership includes the Heads of the Coast Guard Functions or equivalents of each European Union maritime nation and associated Schengen countries, the European Commission and its Institutions and Agencies with related competencies in Coast Guard Functions (CGF2).

The overall aims of the Forum is to study, contribute to and promote understanding and development of maritime issues of importance and of common interest related to Coast Guard Functions across borders and sectors, both civil and military, and to contribute to progress in the various CGF activities.

Coast Guard Functional activities

Coast Guard Functional activities are mainly defined for the purpose of the Forum and in no order of priority as:

  1. maritime safety, including vessel traffic management
  2. maritime security
  3. maritime customs activities
  4. the prevention and suppression of trafficking and smuggling and connected maritime law enforcement
  5. maritime border control
  6. maritime surveillance
  7. maritime environmental protection and response
  8. search and rescue
  9. accident and disaster response
  10. fisheries control and
  11. activities related to the above Coast Guard Functions


With the general aim of improving the development of CGF's across borders and sectors, the Forum has the following objectives

  1. To build and maintain a network of Heads of National authorities for Coast Guard Functions and designated Officers from EU Institutions, Agencies and Directorates with related competencies in CGFs
  2. To agree Rules and Procedures for the Conference, Secretariat and any working groups including matters relating to funding
  3. To assist in the development of common operational procedures and standards in line with prescribed international norms, reinforce synergies and improved operational preparedness, cooperation and response across borders and sectors
  4. To consider the possibilities of promoting trust, burden sharing, asset sharing and enhanced regional cooperation
  5. To establish a standing forum promoting the exchange of information, expertise, technical assistance, best practice, training, exercises and education
  6. To provide relevant recommendations as appropriate
  7. To act as a shared advice source on operational 'coast guarding' to others including the EU Institutions3
  8. To consider, discuss and where possible develop a common understanding of operational challenges and emerging risks in the maritime domain of EU States
  9. To develop over time and as appropriate a coordinated and collective response through cooperation and agreement to emerging and existing risks in the EU maritime domain and
  10. To monitor ongoing development in the maritime domain that may have an impact on Coast Guard Functions

Annual HoD Conference

The Forums annual conference may result in decisions to conduct further work, projects, research or produce documents within the scope of the Forums objectives. This work may be done either by the secretariat or through special tailored working groups directed by a national lead partner supported by the secretariat. Decisions on further work of the secretariat will be made by the chairman and decisions on creating working group(s) will be made by the annual conference following the proposal of a country willing to be a national lead partner through the secretariat. Results of the works of secretariat as well as working groups will be presented during the following conference, or as appropriate.

The chairman, after consultation with Member States, may decide to invite representatives from third countries, non-EU Institutions or bodies having a link with Coast Guard issues of a subject studied or relevant to that conference.

The Heads of Coast Guard Functions conference will, as far as possible, be arranged annually. The Member State responsible for chairmanship for the next year conference will be agreed and appointed at the closing of each conference. Member States willing to chair and host future conferences should indicate this to the chairman a reasonable period in advance of the conference. Consideration should be given to European sea basin rotation and harmonising the chair with other Coast Guard forums' rotations in the selection of successive chairs.

The chair shall prepare conclusions from the conference.

EU institutions may provide the necessary administrative and financial support for the planning and execution of the conference, working groups and the secretariat.

The Secretariat

A standing secretariat will be appointed to assist the chairman in the delivery of his duties, to plan and prepare the next conference and to further the objectives of the Forum. The secretariat will be chaired by the Member State responsible for the chairmanship for the forthcoming conference. The Chair will circulate national Points of Contact (POC's) for the Member States with any minutes or relevant documentation. The secretariat will contain officers from the previous, present and next chairs for continuity purposes. This Terms of Reference document is owned by the conference chairman. Suggestions on amendments to this document should be addressed to the Chair for staffing and coordination. Decisions on amendments will be taken at the following conference.

1 Full title 'Forum of the Heads of the Coast Guards Functions of the European Union and Schengen associated countries'.

2 The Forum recognises that each Member State has different national structures for the delivery of CGFs and that the Head of Delegation may be accompanied by other national institutions competent in CGF's. The selection of which national CGF Service provides the Head of Delegation is strictly a matter for the Member State who will advise the Chair of the name of the HoD.

3 With respect to that EU Institutes and agencies with related competencies in CGF's

© Forum of the Heads of the Coast Guards
Functions of the European Union and
Schengen associated countries