Fabrice Leggeri, head of the European border protection agency (Frontex), is the subject of accusations from NGOs, MEPs and the Commission. However, Frontex’s board of directors does not intend to push it towards the exit.
The resignation of Fabrice Leggeri, executive director of the European border protection agency Frontex, has been demanded by several MEPs. The report of a working group set up at the insistence of the European Commission was discussed yesterday and today 21 January, during a meeting of the Frontex board of directors. Fabrice Leggeri announced through the voice of his spokesperson that he wanted to stay at his post.
The controversy surrounding the top French official emerged after the agency was singled out in October in an investigation by several media – including the German magazine Der Spiegel – on refoulement of boats of asylum seekers crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.
Such actions prevent asylum seekers from claiming refugee status and, if practiced indiscriminately against a group of migrants, they may constitute “pushback», Illegal« refoulement »- which would violate European human rights law and the 1951 Geneva Convention. Athens has, however, always rejected the accusations of illegal refoulements of migrants at its borders regularly launched by NGOs.
The European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) recently opened an investigation against Frontex linked to these accusations but also to suspicions of misconduct and harassment within Frontex, a European source told AFP. According to some reports, Olaf officials have already searched in December 2020 the headquarters of Frontex, located in Warsaw.
Haro from the Commission and some MEPs on Fabrice Leggeri
On January 18, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs and Migration Ylva Johansson expressed herself in these terms, after having been questioned about the possible departure of Fabrice Leggeri: “I am not commenting on this. Procedures have been launched, they are not completed. But I think they should be. ”
According to The world, the head of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission, Monique Pariat, sent a letter to Frontex headquarters accusing Fabrice Leggeri of “incomprehensible hesitation” to follow the instructions as well as a lie about the recruitment of around 40 people who, in theory, should have been at work by December 2020 to ensure respect for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.
Within the European Parliament, several political groups sent a long list of questions to Fabrice Leggeri after he was auditioned by the assembly on December 1, 2020. Members of the S&D (socialist) group even demanded his resignation as the also reminds The world.
While Frontex’s board of directors met on January 20 and 21 to study a report on the incriminated facts, the board – which represents the border authorities of the member states – did not, according to AFP, “raise any objection against its management ”. A Frontex spokesperson said that “Mr. Leggeri has no intention of resigning and remains determined to lead the agency in these difficult times”.
Created in 2004 to help the Member States of the European Union and the countries associated with the Schengen area to protect the external borders of the EU, Frontex saw its budget explode by 1.3 billion euros for the period 2019 -2020 to 5.6 billion euros for the period 2021-2027. Frontex plans to have a permanent staff of 10,000 border and coast guards by 2027, who will soon wear their own uniform.