First Update: 22 March 2021
In response to the allegations on the role of Frontex regarding pushbacks by Member States, the European Parliament has decided to establish a permanent Scrutiny Group for Frontex. While this Scrutiny Group will cover all aspects of Frontex and its functioning, the Working Group is explicitly tasked with an inquiry on the current allegations. I have been appointed rapporteur to this inquiry.
Written Question submitted by MEP Tineke Strik questioning whether the Commission will react after new evidence of pushbacks at the Croatian border were found.
On 15 January 2021, the Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Legal Operational Aspects of Operations (the “Working Group”) established by the Management Board of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (“Frontex”) put forward a number of questions to the Commission.
Here the reply by the legal service of the Commission.
In October 2020, a group of media outlets published evidence about Frontex vessels involved in human rights violations in the Aegean Sea. This raised serious questions about the EU agency’s denial of knowledge of or active contribution to pushbacks. The evidence shows how Frontex witnessed the Hellenic Coast Guard conducting pushbacks but also how the EU agency’s was actively involved in these activities. The situation at the Croatian-Bosnian border, where pushbacks and violence by the Croatian authorities are reported constantly, also raises questions on the involvement of Frontex in these breaches of human rights. In theory, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/1896) foresees Frontex’s obligation to terminate activities in case of violations of fundamental rights, as well as several mechanisms to prevent such breaches.
The panelists were:Prof. Nora Markard, Professor for International Public Law and International Human Rights, University of Münster Matthias Oel, Director - Borders, Interoperability and Innovation, Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission Andreas I. Pottakis, Greek Ombudsman Tineke Strik, Member of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA, rapporteur of the new European Parliament Frontex Scrutiny Working Group
Moderation: Neda Noraie-Kia, Head of Migration Policy Europe, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Thessaloniki Office
Front-LEX and the Legal Centre Lesvos submitted this request for action on the part of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX or the Agency), pursuant to Article 265 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Front-LEX and the Legal Centre Lesvos invite the Agency to consider its position vis-à-vis its activities in the host Member State Greece and to immediately suspend or terminate all its activities in the Aegean Sea Region, in compliance with The Agency’s obligations under Article 46 (4) of European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) Regulation.
In this letter forty MEPs request full information on the status and interim results of the preparation of the legal basis for the arming of Frontex.
In this letter, eight MEPs urge the European Commission to address the issue of pushbacks in the European Union as a matter of priority and to do everything possible to prevent these incidents and take appropriate action.
Written Question submitted by MEP Tineke Strik regarding Fundamental rights compliance by Frontex staff and the current absence of the Fundamental Rights Officer.
Pushback policies and practice are an increasing phenomenon at Europe’s borders, in clear violation of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, including the right to seek asylum and the protection against refoulement, which are at the core of international refugee and human rights law. There are persistent reports and evidence of inhuman and degrading treatment by member States and their agencies in the framework of those pushbacks, through intimidation, taking or destroying migrants’ belongings, and even through the use of violence and depriving migrants of food and basic services.
This report, requested by Tineke Strik, looks at fundamental rights compliance at the European Union (EU)’s external land borders, including rivers and lakes. On 30 January 2020, the European Parliament requested the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to prepare a report on these borders. It noted that the report should focus on the correct application of the safeguards in the European asylum acquis and the provisions of the Schengen Borders Code (Regulation (EU) 2016/399).