Brussels, 19 September 2022
See question(s) : E-002152/2022
Answer given by Ms Johansson on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission is deeply concerned about all reports of pushbacks and mistreatment, and takes these very seriously. Member States have an obligation under EU law to prevent and discourage unauthorised crossings of the external borders, but this must be done in full respect of EU fundamental rights obligations. In accordance with the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is mandated with monitoring the fundamental rights compliance of its own activities1. Should the Agency’s executive director consider that there are serious or persistent violations of fundamental rights or international protection obligations related to such an activity, s/he is required to terminate, suspend or withdraw financing for that activity. Member States retain primary responsibility for the management of their sections of the external borders2; the Agency is not empowered to interfere with actions by the national authorities of Member States. Any violations of fundamental rights committed by national authorities outside the framework of a Frontex activity should be reported to the relevant national investigative authorities for follow-up.
In line with the Common Provisions Regulation3, Member States need to put in place effective mechanisms to ensure the ‘Effective application and implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights’4(Horizontal Enabling Condition). The Greek authorities informed the Commission of measures5 taken to ensure compliance with fundamental rights, through the investigation or, where necessary prosecution, of misconduct by competent state authorities6. The Commission is working closely with Greece7 to strengthen the effectiveness of these measures.
1 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2019/1896/oj Article 10(1)(ad).
2 Article 7(1).
3 Articles 15-18, Regulation (EU) 2021/1060 of 24 June 2021.
4 Member States are bound by the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘Charter’) when they are implementing EU law. This is also reflected in the Common Provisions Regulation [Regulation (EU) 2021/1060)], which stipulates in Article 9(1) that Member States and the Commission shall ensure respect for fundamental rights and compliance with the Charter in the implementation of the Funds. The Common Provisions Regulation requires that Member States ensure, throughout the programming period, the continuous fulfilment of enabling conditions, including the horizontal enabling condition on the ‘Effective application and implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.’
5 Most recently, based on discussions between Commissioner Johansson and the responsible Ministers in Greece on 30 June 2022, the Greek authorities adopted legal provisions that include the establishment of a Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO) position and a specific Committee on Fundamental Rights monitoring within the Ministry for Migration and Asylum. The Fundamental Rights Officer and the Committee will look both into complaints related to border operations and to asylum procedures.
6 This includes internal control procedures, investigations by independent authorities, including the Greek Ombudsman and the National Transparency Authority, and the possibility of Public Prosecutors to investigate allegations, following relevant complaints or press and non-governmental organisations’ reports.
7 https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/policies/migration-and-asylum/migration-management/task-force-migrationmanagement_en#:~:text=Established%20in%20September%202020%2C%20after,for%20migrants%20arriving %20to%20Greece