BRUSSELS (AP) – EU border guard Frontex is the pride of the 27-nation bloc in guarding its borders; anyone who can enter without permission is under surveillance and under fire.
Almost literally sometimes. In the Aegean Sea, Turkish fighter jets “crashed Frontex planes or intimidated agency boats that monitor the movement of migrants in a narrow sea between Turkey and the” Greek East Islands. ” Turkish troops allegedly fired warning shots in the air at the land border.
The European Parliament has called for the resignation of CEO Fabrice Legger. Some lawmakers say he was wrong about allegations that the agency was involved in fundamental violations of migrants’ rights.
Benevolent groups և the media accuse Frontex of denying people the right to seek asylum, which is illegal under EU և refugee treaties. They say it was either an accomplice or could not prevent the alleged repulsion by Greek coast guard at sea, where migrants were being returned to Turkish waters.
Although the agency was due to hire 40 fundamental rights officers by December, it has not yet done so.
The investigation found no connection between Frontex and Aegean’s feedback. But the parliament has set up an “inspection group” to report on և human rights issues. The EU Anti-Fraud Office is also investigating allegations of misconduct by top managers.
Even as criticism mounts, Frontex’s powers grow. In the coming years, the agency is expected to grow to a permanent force of 10,000 armed with high-tech surveillance equipment. Over the next seven years, its budget reached 5.6 billion euros ($ 6.7 billion).
In 2014, a year before reaching the peak of the EU migrant challenges, the agency had an annual budget of around € 100 million and had to require border staff from member states.
Its role is also expanding. Recently, when the United Kingdom withdrew from the EU, he insisted that Frontex should exercise border control at the airport in the British Ibraltar area, rather than Spanish officers.
But as Frontex’s powers and responsibilities grow, so does the need for oversight.
“In my opinion, it is the most important agency in the whole European Union. “Along with իշխանության government funding պատասխանատվ comes responsibility, իհարկե of course, guarantees ում verification,” EU Commissioner for Migration Ylva Johansson told EU investigators on March 4.
Moreover, any failure at Frontex is an additional disgrace to countries that have been deeply divided over the years over who should take responsibility for unauthorized entry, and whether other member states are obliged to help.
“In the absence of an EU agreement on migration management, what is happening on the ground is a solid reflection of how the EU is viewed from the outside,” Han Beyrens of the Institute for Migration Policy told the Associated Press.
The question is the following. And who is behind the wheel when it comes to Frontex?
The agency is overseen by the Interior Ministry’s governing council, police և border officials, who draw up its work plan և actions. The commission, which oversees compliance with EU law, has two of the council’s 28 seats.
Appointed CEO in 2015, Ledger, a French civil servant, was tasked with implementing the council’s strategy at a time when hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees were arriving in Europe. Deputy Director և A number of other senior management positions are vacant.
On paper, Frontex is legally accountable to the 27-member European Parliament. Through Johansson, the Commission has political but not legal responsibility for Frontex’s actions.
Whether at sea or on land, Frontex operations are controlled by the country in which they operate. In the Aegean Sea, where many setbacks have been reported, it means the Greek Coast Guard. This is where the lines of responsibility get muddy.
Frontex և և Greece categorically denies backtracking, մաքր investigation cleared the agency, although it identified failures to ‘monitor և report’. But last year, Legger twice asked Athens to investigate the behavior of the Greek coast guard.
He also told EU lawmakers that when Turkey moved its border with Greece through thousands of migrants last March, Athens decided in an emergency to “make optimal use of the wiretapping provisions” in an attempt to stem the flow.
This means that Legger says that “in some cases, migrant vessels may be instructed not to stay in territorial waters or to enter.” To some, this may seem like a push-up, և question. Should Frontex comply when an order to seize a migrant ship actually violates the law?
These vague legal definitions, incomprehensible lines of command և Controversial interests of the EU coast or the interior of the country make Frontex difficult to navigate.
German Conservative lawmaker Lena Dupont, a member of the European Parliament’s “review group”, told the AP that there was much room for improvement in the “agency management ecosystem”, especially the growth of Frontex.
“This is the first time we have someone carrying a weapon and someone in a European uniform as part of a standing corps, not officers sent on demand from member states,” he said. Frontex is more “European than ever, it’s a drastic change within the agency.”
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