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Frontex Management Board dodge MEP questions 

The mounting controversy surrounding the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, and its role in allegations of violations of fundamental rights continues as members of its management board and the Head of Frontex’s Operational Response Division appeared before a European Parliament Scrutiny Working Group. 

In today’s hearing, Frontex Management Board members continually dodged MEP questions on a recent report dealing with allegations of so-called pushbacks in the Eastern Mediterranean.

(Photo: Marko Gašperlin, Chair of the Frontex Management Board)

When probed by MEPs, and asked for the overall number of reports of fundamental rights violations received by Frontex, they did not respond. The chair even stated that the working group was not for investigation. Asked whether they truly believe  the version provided by the Greek coast guard, the chair commented that “to doubt official information coming from a Member State would not be a good basis for work”, while another member said “he does not believe nor disbelieve”, explaining he does “not form opinions based on anything he does not have the facts on.”

During the hearing, Left MEPs pointed to insufficiencies in the internal investigation, questioning whether it was suitable in a report investigating violations of fundamental rights to consult “as an expert” the Executive Director of Frontex himself, Fabrice Leggeri – probably the most interested party in clearing Frontex’s name.  Nonetheless, management board representatives failed once again to answer the questions posed to them, shirking their responsibilities for the overall management of the EU agency. 

Sira Rego (Izquierda Unida, Spain) commented:

“Frontex has again shown a total lack of transparency and willingness to collaborate with the European Parliament’s Scrutiny Group. Like Leggeri two weeks ago, nobody takes responsibility and all the answers we have received from the Agency’s representatives were evasive or unrelated to our questions.

The scope of this Scrutiny Working Group was to unveil what is going on with the Agency, how decision-making works and who is responsible for violations of fundamental rights at the EU’s external borders, but Frontex is working hard to make it impossible.

As we have said in the past: Frontex is out of control and this has to change.”

Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) added:

“On the one hand, this assessment is not surprising in view of the composition of the Management Board, the agency has basically examined itself here, so to speak. Leggeri himself, an interested party in the investigation, was even invited to participate as an expert in the investigation. On the other hand, it is simply appalling that contradictory statements by Greece and Frontex have watered down the report here to the point where no real conclusions can be drawn. It is absurd that Greek authorities claim that migrants would not ask for asylum on the high seas and voluntarily change their course towards Turkey as if people were just doing a cruise and boat engines disappear by themselves.”

The full meeting of the Civil Liberties committee Scrutiny Working Group can be watched by clicking here: https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/committee-on-civil-liberties-justice-and-home-affairs_20210315-1345-COMMITTEE-LIBE_vd 

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