OLAF’s 129-page report is top secret, but the German weekly of the mirror and the French daily The world managed to obtain a copy and quoted the damning conclusions extensively. The report “reveals the full extent of the Frontex scandal”, wrote of the mirror Friday.
We have known for some time that this is a scandal. Pushbacks in the Aegean have been taking place since 2015 and it has already been shown that Frontex sometimes looks the other way when Greek border guards bring a dinghy full of refugees back to sea. At the end of April, Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri had to pack his bags when the OLAF report in question cast its shadow.
Leggeri has always dismissed claims of involvement in pushback practices, but in April it became clear there would be nothing to deny after the report from the fraud department. He had no choice but to resign, along with two other administrators.
The messages, emails and interviews available to the researchers and which the report cites give the impression that Leggeri no longer trusted the EU and the European Commission, as he felt they relied too much on NGOs . In 2018, the idea was born at the top of Frontex that the service was becoming too useful a “taxi” service for immigrants.
The surveillance plane is fired
of the mirror cites an example of the method at Frontex: on August 5, 2020, the Greek border guard tows a canoe with thirty refugees into the sea. A Frontex Surveillance Aircraft (an ‘FSA’) follows the vessel so that any pushback can be viewed live at Frontex Headquarters. This makes people uncomfortable, but instead of intervening, they decide to send the plane to a new location; Mediterranean Sea.
Management is aware of the pushbacks and we know why the plane will be patrolling elsewhere. of the mirror quotes a handwritten note dated November 16, 2020: “We withdrew our FSA some time ago to avoid testifying…” HQ warns that refugees (in violation of EU directives) are at grave risk, and this is becoming increasingly difficult for Frontex to deal with. We already fear an “enormous risk for the reputation of Frontex”.
The evidence is hidden and hidden from the Frontex board and European Parliament investigators. He lies to the European Parliament, hiding that the service uses EU money to fund certain pushbacks.
Many of the issues raised in the report are already known, particularly through research conducted by of the mirror, but because OLAF is an official EU organization that researched everything meticulously and backed it up with evidence, the report is likely to carry more weight.
In any case, he urges the new (interim) management of Frontex and the European Commission to act quickly. The Commission must find an answer to the question of how millions of euros go to Greece every year: money with which Greece must help migrants in accordance with European directives, and not leave them at sea on life rafts without engine. And how it is possible that Greece still feels that it is not breaking any laws.
Leggeri’s career is now over, of the mirror predicts that this report will cost people even more.
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