Wednesday, June 9, 2021

ECA: Frontex Not Sufficiently Helping EU Countries Manage Their Borders

The European Union’s border agency Frontex has not been effective enough in helping the Member States, and Schengen Zone countries manage the EU’s external frontiers, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has estimated in their recent report.

According to Leo Brincat, a Maltese member of the European Court of Auditors, the border agency’s support was not adequate in order to combat illegal immigration and cross-border crime, reports.

Brincat pretends that Frontex was not fit for its purpose while explaining that neither was its report, adding that the report should be scrapped.

“It should address its problems for its good,” he said.

Even though since 2004, when it was created, Frontex’s mission is to address the EU’s border concerns, such as trafficking, terrorism, and migrant smuggling, the agency has been accused many times of turning a blind eye to many violations identified at EU’s countries borders.

Since it started to operate, the border agency’s budget marked a gradual increase. In comparison to 2006 when its budget was €19 million, it rose to €460 million last year.

Brincat stressed that Frontex is becoming among the most significant EU agencies, with a workforce of about 750 in 2019. However, he said that the agency was “biting more than it can chew.”

“It went through too many changes too fast and increased its mandate without analyzing its operations and performance. The net losers were not the stakeholders but Frontex itself. The agency should ensure that all weaknesses are addressed as soon as possible,” Maltese European Court of Auditors member pointed out.

Frontex received a mandate in 2016 to help EU Member States fight illegal immigration and cross-border crime. Still, according to the European Court of Auditors (ECA), such a mandate had not been fully implemented.

In addition, ECA’s report said that there was doubt on its capacity to effectively apply the new operational role that had been assigned to in 2019.

“Frontex’s tasks at the EU’s external borders are essential for the fight against cross-border crime and illegal immigration. Nevertheless, Frontex is currently not discharging that duty effectively. This is especially worrying at a time when Frontex is being given added responsibilities,” Brincat said.

The EU’s border agency has also been criticized for rarely analyzing its performance or showing the actual costs of its operations. According to auditors, the last external evaluation of the agency was published in 2015.

Still, in order to make its work more effective, Frontex will have more than 10,000 operational staff at its disposal by 2027.

Earlier this year, Frontex was accused of violating EU laws on protecting migrants that were subject to human rights violations identified at Hungary’s Schengen borders.

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