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EU Border Agency Could Lose €90 Million From Next Year’s Budget Over Rights Abuses 

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MEPs are demanding at least €90 million of next year’s budget for the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, to be frozen over its failure to protect fundamental values at the EU’s borders. 

That is roughly about 12% of the budget of the crucial body that helps border countries like Malta in battling the migration crisis.  

In June 2021, a four-month-long investigation into Frontex, spearheaded by First Vice-President Roberta Metsola, found evidence supporting allegations of fundamental rights abuses in EU member states where the border agency was involved in joint operations.

The report found that there has been a failure in taking action to address reports of migrant pushbacks across the management of Frontex, yet particularly its executive director, Fabrice Leggeri.

Migrant pushbacks define the illegal practice of summarily forcing migrants to return across a border they have recently crossed or sought to cross. Pushbacks by national border guards have been seen in EU member states such as Greece and Hungary, where Frontex has had a major influence.

While no evidence of direct pushbacks by Frontex agents was found, the report did highlight that management had ignored reports, including video evidence, of human rights abuses violations in places where Frontex operates.

It also identified that Frontex’s executive director deliberately delayed the hiring of personnel whose jobs would be to monitor rights at Frontex operations.

MEPs have recognised  Frontex’s ongoing efforts to remedy these shortcomings. However, they are demanding that part of the budget be frozen and only be made available once the agency has fulfilled a number of specific conditions. 

These include recruiting 20 missing fundamental rights monitors and three deputy executive directors; setting up a mechanism for reporting serious incidents on the EU’s external borders and a functioning fundamental rights monitoring system. 

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Julian is the Editor at Lovin Malta with a particular interest in politics, the environment, social issues, and human interest stories.

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