MEP David McAllister on the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex)
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MEP David McAllister on the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex)

The European border and coast guard has a crucial role to protect our external borders. Frontex operates under highly complex and challenging circumstances when it comes to fulfilling its tasks. The EPP Group has always very much supported Frontex and advocated an effective management of the EU’s external borders. Frontex is growing rapidly in both budget, human resources and competences, with a standing corps of 10,000 border guards currently being put in place. With its greater role comes a need for greater accountability. Frontex should be strengthened, not weakened. To ensure adequate parliamentary oversight of the European border and coast guard agency, the EPP Group pushed for the creation of a standing Frontex Scrutiny Working Group to monitor all aspects of the functioning of Frontex.

There have been serious allegations of misbehaviour at Frontex, especially regarding migrant pushbacks and the non-compliance of professional duties. OLAF has investigated Frontex. Members of the European Parliament did not have access to the conclusions of the findings in the beginning. As far as the discharge is concerned, Frontex had not provided all the necessary information for the discharge for 2020 to be granted in spring 2022 and had not sufficiently implemented the conditions set in the 2019 discharge. In spring 2022, the EPP Group voted to postpone the 2020 discharge until autumn 2022 to give Frontex time to provide the necessary information.

Since then, Frontex has made progress in fulfilling the recommendations of the 2019 discharge. Director Leggeri has stepped down and a new ad interim Executive Director was appointed on 1 July 2022. Also, the majority of the recommendations of Parliament’s Frontex Scrutiny Working Group have been positively addressed by Frontex and further changes are being implemented. This implies positive change for both the culture and the implementation of the agency’s mandate. The smooth functioning of Frontex should be the priority of all parties involved. This is why the EPP Group is now in favour of granting the 2020 discharge to Frontex. The EPP Group will continue to hold Frontex to account in order to make sure external border protection remains as robust, as efficient and as transparent in its operations as possible.