European border protection agency Frontex has got a new head after serious allegations of disapproval of migrants in the Mediterranean. The authority’s board of directors announced on Friday that former CEO Fabrice Leggeri has resigned with immediate effect. The Frenchman has been driving Frontex since 2015.
Investigations into the illegal rejection of migrants in the Mediterranean serve as a background to Leggeris’ decision. According to them, executives of the Warsaw-based Frontex agency were said to have deliberately covered up the fact that Greek border guards were returning refugees to the open Mediterranean. Refusal of people seeking protection at external borders – so-called backlashes – is illegal under international law.
Frontex was founded by the European Union in 2004 and expanded to become the European Border and Coast Guard Agency after the refugee crisis that began in 2015. Actual border protection remains the responsibility of member states, but the agency must ensure joint management of external borders and effectively support national border protection units if necessary. .
In lieu of the notable progress, there have been criticisms recently of the work of the Frontex units. This includes in particular cases of possible unlawful rejection of persons seeking protection at the external borders of the European Union. According to media reports, Greek border guards have illegally driven boats carrying migrants to Turkey several times. It is said that Frontex officials were nearby and did not prevent it. Several EU bodies have recently dealt with the allegations.
New interim boss
According to Frontex, Aiga Kalnaja will assume the official duties of Legiri on a temporary basis. Prior to joining Frontex, she was the Deputy Chief of Police in Latvia.
Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) previously urged that the issue of open driving at Frontex be clarified as quickly as possible. “Today, a strong border protection agency is more necessary than ever. All EU countries agree that strong external border protection is required,” Karner said. If the external borders are not protected, it could put the European Union at risk in the long run, according to the interior minister. “Many member states, including Austria, are greatly affected by illegal immigration, even though they do not have an external border with the European Union.” Karner said the goal should be to “fight” people smugglers at the EU’s borders. All persons there must be consistently registered.
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