Wed. Feb 8th, 2023

Brussels, 29 April 2022

The Commission takes note of the resignation with immediate effect of the Executive Director of the European Border and Coastguard Agency (Frontex), Fabrice Leggeri.

As the most senior Deputy Executive Director of Frontex, Aija Kalnaja will deputise and assume the lead of the Agency with immediate effect. To ensure full continuity of the agency, the Commission will proceed quickly with recruitment and appointment of a new Executive Director.

It is a priority for the Commission to have in place a strong, effective, and well-functioning European Border and Coast Guard.

Frontex fulfils a critically important task to support Member States manage common European Union external borders, and to uphold fundamental rights in doing so. For that purpose, Frontex must be a robust and well-functioning agency. The Commission will continue to fully support Frontex in this mission.

Over the past year, the Commission has stepped up significantly its support and advice to Frontex to ensure the full implementation of its mandate. To this end, the Commission initiated several extraordinary Management Board meetings dedicated to governance issues and fundamental rights. The Commission is committed to the continuous improvement of the agency.

For more information

Frontex Management Board conclusions from the extraordinary Management Board meeting of 28-29 April 2022

2022-04-29

In view of the European Anti-Fraud Office’s (OLAF) investigations against three staff members of Frontex including the Agency’s Executive Director, the Frontex Management Board met on 28 and 29 April 2022 for an extraordinary meeting in order to decide on the next steps. At this meeting, the Executive Director was given the opportunity to comment on the findings contained in the OLAF report. On the first day of the meeting, he declared his resignation from all his functions with immediate effect and his intention to terminate his employment in the Agency. The Management Board took note of his intentions and concluded that the employment has therefore come to an end. In view of the Executive Director’s resignation, the Management Board decided that launching further proceedings against the Executive Director in connection with the OLAF report of 15 February 2022 is not necessary anymore, since the outcome of these proceedings will no longer affect the position of the Executive Director.

To maintain the Agency’s ability to act, the Management Board agreed that in line with the applicable rules of procedure, Ms Aija Kalnaja as the most senior Deputy Executive Director will deputise for the vacant Executive Director function and assume the lead of the Agency with immediate effect. The Management Board is of the opinion that the period of deputising should be limited and that an Executive Director ad interim should be appointed as soon as possible, and in any case at the latest at the Management Board meeting in June 2022.

To that end, the Management Board asked the European Commission to launch the necessary legal steps to allow for such an appointment. Furthermore, the Management Board asked the European Commission to prepare urgently the publication of the post of the Frontex Executive Director and launch the selection procedure and to continuously report on this to the Management Board.

The Management Board will also take the next steps provided by law with regard to the other two staff members referred to in the OLAF report.

The Management Board clearly states that effective border control and the protection of fundamental rights are fully compatible. The mandate of the Agency is clearly set out in the EBCG Regulation.

Via Frontex


Statement by Civil Liberties Committee Chair on Frontex

Civil Liberties Committee Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar’s statement following the news about Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri’s departure.

After the Frontex Management Board met on 28–29 April and Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri resigned, Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said:

“The Civil Liberties Committee and the European Parliament have consistently supported extending the mandate of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) at a time when integrated management of the EU’s external borders is increasingly relevant. In return, we have fulfilled our duty to scrutinise how Frontex functions to ensure it complies with EU Law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Mr Leggeri’s resignation as Frontex Executive Director following OLAF investigations sets a new reference point on accountability that will not only affect Frontex as the largest EU agency, but also all other EU agencies and specialised offices.

The Civil Liberties Committee and the European Parliament will continue to fulfil our duty to scrutinise the appointment of the new Executive Director and the proper functioning of the agency as an expression of our institutional commitment to EU values and legislation.”

Background

According to Article 107 of the Frontex Regulation, when the post of Frontex Eecutive Director becomes vacant, the Commission should propose at least three candidates. The Management Board then appoints an Executive Director based on merit and experience. Firstly, the candidates ‘shall be invited to make a statement before the competent committee or committees of the European Parliament and answer questions put by its or their members’. Then, the Parliament adopts an opinion, which may include its preference for a particular candidate. The Management Board has to take the Parliament’s opinion into account when making a decision: should it decide to not appoint the Parliament’s preferred candidate, it has to justify it in writing and inform the Parliament and the Council of its decision.


Statement by the Frontex Scrutiny Group Chair

Chair of the EP Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) reacts to the Frontex Management Board’s announcement regarding the departure of the Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

Following the today’s conclusions of the Frontex Managment Board, the Chair of the EP Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) Lena Düpont (EPP, DE) said:

“We take note of the Executive Director’s decision and call on all parties involved to now vouch for the swift and smooth functioning of the Agency. Given the fundamental role of Frontex in protecting our external borders and the European security architecture as a whole, this must be our only focus now. Today, more than ever, European border management faces enormous tasks; our border and coast guard must be strengthened and not left to politically motivated arbitrariness. Frontex is facing the greatest challenges due to the considerable expansion of its tasks and powers as well as the geopolitically strained situation at our external borders. These challenges must not be borne on the backs of the border guards who protect our external border and save human lives under the most difficult conditions. The extended mandate and tasks inevitably cause administrative difficulties. Much more and clearer guidance from the European Commission is needed here. We will continue to subject all aspects of internal administration and effective border management to thorough parliamentary scrutiny.”

Background

The Frontex Scrutiny Working Group was created following a decision by the Civil Liberties committee coordinators on 29 January 2021 and started its work in February. Its aim is to assess Frontex activities and organisation, including its reinforced role and resources for integrated border management and the correct application of the EU acquis.

In July 2021, the FSWG finished a 4 month fact-finding investigation about the alleged fundamental rights violations in the work of the border agency. The report  was presented in the Civil Liberties Committee.


Statement der EU-Abgeordneten Düpont (CDU) zum Rücktritt von Frontex-Chef Leggeri

Zum Rücktritt von Frontex-Chef Fabrice Leggeri erklärt Lena Düpont (CDU), Vorsitzende des Frontex-Kontrollgremiums im Europaparlament und migrationspolitische Sprecherin der CDU/CSU-Gruppe:

„Wir nehmen die Entscheidung des Exekutivdirektors zur Kenntnis und rufen alle beteiligten Parteien dazu auf, jetzt für die rasche und reibungslose Arbeitsfähigkeit der Agentur einzustehen. Angesichts der fundamentalen Rolle von Frontex für den Schutz unserer Außengrenzen und die europäische Sicherheitsarchitektur insgesamt darf dies im Augenblick unser einziges Augenmerk sein.

Der europäische Grenzschutz steht heute mehr denn je vor gewaltigen Aufgaben, unsere Grenz- und Küstenwache gilt es zu stärken und nicht einer politisch motivierten Beliebigkeit preiszugeben. Frontex ist aufgrund der erheblichen Erweiterung seiner Aufgaben und Befugnisse sowie der geopolitisch konfliktbeladenen Situation an unseren Außengrenzen vor größte Herausforderungen gestellt. Diese dürfen nicht auf dem Rücken der Grenzschützer ausgetragen werden, die unter schwierigsten Bedingungen unsere Außengrenze schützen und Menschenleben retten.

Mit dem erweiterten Mandat gehen unweigerlich administrative Schwierigkeiten einher. Hier bedarf es deutlich mehr und klarerer Orientierung durch die Europäische Kommission. Wir werden alle Aspekte der internen Verwaltung und des effektiven Grenzmanagements weiter einer gründlichen parlamentarischen Kontrolle unterziehen.“


S&Ds on Frontex resignation

Responding to the resignation of the Frontex Executive Director, the S&D spokesperson for home affairs, Birgit Sippel, said:

“The Socialists and Democrats were the first political group to call for the resignation of Frontex’s Executive Director, Fabrice Leggeri, well over a year ago, back in late 2020. This is a long overdue development, after years of constant allegations of pushbacks and violations of human rights, but it is welcome news that Leggeri is finally stepping down. For years, Leggeri has mismanaged the EU’s border and coast guard agency, significantly harming its reputation and misleading the Parliament along the way. The evidence of the need for fresh leadership has mounted since then, and we will scrutinise the succession closely. At the same time, we must not stop to fully examine all allegations into misconduct and fundamental rights violations so that we can quickly restore the integrity and credibility of Frontex. This has to include a detailed examination of the findings of the OLAF investigation of the agency. Finally, the Frontex Management Board needs to question its all too passive role in the process, without showing the necessary determination to draw the right consequences.”

Der Leiter der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, tritt zurück. Der 54-jährige Franzose hatte die Agentur seit 2015 geleitet. Die EU-Betrugsbekämpfungsbehörde OLAF steht kurz davor, Ergebnisse ihrer langjährigen Frontex-Untersuchung zu veröffentlichen.

Birgit Sippel, innenpolitische Sprecherin der S&D-Fraktion:

“Fabrice Leggeris Rücktritt ist eine längst überfällige und willkommene Entwicklung, nach Jahren der ständigen Kritik wegen Pushbacks und Menschenrechtsverletzungen durch Frontex unter seiner Leitung. Die S&D hatte bereits Ende 2020 als erste Fraktion auf EU-Ebene den Rücktritt des Exekutivdirektors gefordert. Jahrelang hat Leggeri die EU-Agentur für Grenz- und Küstenwache schlecht verwaltet, ihrem Ruf erheblich geschadet und das Europäische Parlament in die Irre geführt.

Die Nachweise für die Notwendigkeit einer neuen Führung haben sich seither verdichtet, und wir Sozialdemokrat*innen im EU-Parlament werden die Nachfolge genau prüfen. Zudem dürfen wir nicht aufhören, alle Vorwürfe über Fehlverhalten und Grundrechtsverletzungen umfassend zu untersuchen, damit wir die Integrität und Glaubwürdigkeit von Frontex schnell wiederherstellen können.

Dafür muss das Europäische Parlament die Ergebnisse der Frontex-Untersuchung durch die EU-Betrugsbekämpfungsagentur OLAF analysieren. Schließlich muss der Frontex-Verwaltungsrat, dem die nötige Entschlossenheit fehlte, um die richtigen Konsequenzen zu ziehen, seine allzu passive Rolle in dem Prozess hinterfragen. Auch hier sind Veränderungen bei der Zusammensetzung und der Transparenz erforderlich.“


The Left: Long-overdue Frontex Director’s resignation a chance to rethink agency’s role

April 29, 2022

Left seeks plenary point on Leggeri departure next week

In light of mounting evidence on the EU border agency’s involvement in hundreds of refugee pushbacks, the resignation of Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri was a must. The Left in the European Parliament has been demanding this for years and continues to call for a radical rethink of the EU’s migration policy.

The Left alongside investigative journalists, survivors of violence, lawyers and activists has played a key role in exposing Frontex’s complicity in fundamental rights violations and the role Leggeri had in covering them up.

During the work of Parliament’s Frontex Scrutiny Working Group, MEPs received mounting evidence of Frontex involvement in pushbacks at the EU’s external borders. This included video footage that showed pushbacks by Greek authorities, witnessed in real-time by Frontex officers who did nothing. In the Group’s final report in July 2021, Leggeri was criticised for his repeated failure to respond to fundamental rights violations and a refusal to “follow up on the many expressions of concerns, recommendations, opinions or observations submitted over the course of four years.”

With Frontex’s budget discharge on the agenda for next week’s European Parliament plenary, Leggeri’s resignation confirms the need for MEPs to have immediate access to a 200-page report by EU watchdog body OLAF into Frontex and for the discharge vote to be postponed. The Left is also requesting a debate to be added to the agenda on the issue of the resignation in light of OLAF’s inquiry.

Commenting on the resignation, Left MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) said: “Leggeri personally had an active role in Frontex’s complicity in fundamental rights violations and the cover-up of this complicity included lying to the Parliament more than once. We have been calling for his resignation for years. It was overdue. Leggeri’s actions reveal once again the serious structural problems with the EU border agency, which need to be tackled. Frontex involvement in human rights violations will not stop just because Leggeri is gone. Now is the time to go further. Frontex must immediately suspend its operations in Greece in accordance with Article 46 of the Frontex Regulation.”

Sira Rego (Izquierda Unida, Spain) welcomed today’s development: “Leggeri’s resignation is great news. All the reasons behind this decision must be clarified immediately. The Commission must assume its responsibility towards Leggeri and this agency. The problem with Frontex is not just Fabrice Leggeri, the problem with Frontex is a structural one. That is why this resignation is not enough and we need a complete change in the EU’s migration policy.”

Source – The Left

 

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