EU Commission VP Schinas defends border agency Frontex

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas on Thursday sprang to the defense of the EU’s border agency Frontex, just days after Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson criticized the organization and its boss Fabrice Leggeri.

Schinas’ comments reflected notable differences between the Greek commissioner, who is from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), and Johansson, a Swedish social democrat, over how to deal with criticism of Frontex’s internal management and its border and coast guard operations.

Frontex is facing accusations of illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers, harassment and misconduct, which are under investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog OLAF. On Monday, Johansson attacked Leggeri at a closed-door European Parliament hearing by saying he had shown a “reluctance” to comply with EU rules for the agency, which had led to “shortcomings” at Frontex.

Schinas, in contrast, called Frontex “a central piece for the success” of the EU’s new migration and asylum strategy. Speaking at an event organized by the Robert Schuman Foundation think tank, he expressed “all our institutional support” for the Warsaw-based agency.

While admitting that there are “management issues that need to be resolved in a clear and compelling manner” and that Leggeri had “the executive responsibility to do so,” Schinas fired back at critics: “I don’t accept the attempt by some circles to mix it all together to build a narrative that weakens Frontex at a time when we need the agency the most. That I will never accept.”

He added: “So we need to clarify things and continue working as planned.”

An EU official said there had been “tensions” in recent days between Schinas and Johansson following the latter’s critical remarks in Parliament.

Schinas’ EPP has taken a more supportive position of Frontex and Leggeri. Its MEPs have argued that OLAF must first investigate the allegations and now is not the time to question the director’s leadership role. In contrast, the Socialists & Democrats group in the European Parliament demanded back in December that Leggeri should leave his post, and it reiterated that call this week.

During Thursday’s event, Schinas argued that support for Frontex came not only from the Commission but also “all the [EU] member states and the European Parliament,” since they had jointly adopted a new mandate and budget for the agency, under which it is set to be dramatically expanded.

Speaking at the same event, Leggeri said Frontex was “well aware of its responsibility and the need to be able to explain and account for the way we operate.”

He added that it is “quite normal” that the agency’s expansion — including a program to create a 10,000-strong standing corps of border guards in the coming years — “provokes reactions, because it’s unusual.” He also admitted that “there may be delays in the implementation of certain things, it certainly won’t be perfect.”

Reacting to the allegations of illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers, Leggeri said it is “in the interest of the agency to be able, thanks to all these investigations and the answers that we provide, to show that the work has not been done in a way contrary to the law.”



Source by [author_name]

Latest

Hawks: Police murder suspect sought after escaping custody

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known...

Vanuatu’s president dissolves parliament to avoid bid to oust leader

Vanuatu’s president dissolved the Pacific island nation’s parliament on...

On 2022 Blue Jays, value distributed more evenly than expected

While the Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2022 season...

WHO recommends second COVID-19 booster for highest-risk groups 

The World Health Organization’s immunization advisory group Thursday recommended a second COVID-19 vaccine booster for older people, health care workers, and people at high...

Dancing with the stars: 7 world leaders’ dance moves, ranked

On a scale of 1 to 5, Finland’s prime minister is first choice for our jury to party with.  In leaked videos, the 36-year-old leader...

Estonia fends off ‘extensive’ cyberattack following Soviet monument removal

Russian patriotic hackers hit Estonia's public institutions and private companies with a cyberattack Wednesday following the country’s removal of a Soviet tank monument and...