On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution wrapping up the fact-finding investigation by the Working Group on Frontex Scrutiny with 366 votes in favour, 154 against, and 15 abstaining.
Search and rescue at sea
Frontex could do more to increase the EU and member states’ capacity to carry out search and rescue operations at sea by investing in appropriate assets for such operations, MEPs underline. Regarding the shipwreck off the coast of Greece on 14 June 2023, MEPs expect Frontex’s full cooperation during the inquiry.
Ongoing concerns in Greece, Lithuania and Hungary
MEPs express “severe concerns regarding the serious and persistent allegations made against Greek authorities in relation to pushbacks and violence against migrants”. Frontex should scale down its operations to mere monitoring and presence on the ground in cases where a member state is unable to respect EU principles and values, say MEPs, who regret this has so far not happened in the case of Greece.
They welcome the reduction in Frontex’s activities in Lithuania following a Court of Justice judgment and recommend a more proactive approach to protecting EU principles and values. Support for return operations from Hungary should be immediately suspended, they say.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine
MEPs praise the positive role played by the agency in helping member states deal with large numbers crossing external borders into the EU following the Russian attack against Ukraine and the deployment of around 500 officers along the Eastern border from Finland to Romania as well as the deployment of over 50 officers to Moldova.
Management of the Agency
Frontex’s work culture regarding respect for EU principles and values, including fundamental rights, transparency and efficiency in internal procedures and accountability towards Parliament must change, MEPs say. They recognise the efforts made to implement 36 out of 42 recommendations made by the Frontex Scrutiny Group and propose specific further actions, including consulting the Fundamental Rights Officer earlier on when developing operational plans, as well as broader safeguards for whistleblowers.
The resolution stems from the fact-finding investigation carried out by the Civil Liberties Committee Working Group on Frontex Scrutiny (FSWG), chaired by Lena Düpont (EPP, DE), and set up in January 2021. The FSWG final report, steered by Tineke STRIK (Greens, NL) was presented in July 2021.
A delegation of the Civil Liberties Committee visited Frontex headquarters in Warsaw in June 2023.