The head of the EU border agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, has filed his resignation following excoriating criticism of its human rights record and an anti-fraud investigation.
Fabrice Leggeri, who was censured by the European parliament last year, announced his resignation in a letter to the agency’s management board. “I give my mandate back to the management board as it seems that the Frontex mandate on which I have been elected and renewed in June 2019 has silently but effectively been changed,” Leggeri wrote in a letter seen by the Guardian.
According to the letter, his resignation is yet to be accepted by the Frontex board, which was holding an emergency meeting to discuss his position on Friday.
The letter was dated the same day as an international consortium of journalists, including the Guardian, revealed that Frontex’s database showed it was involved in illegal pushbacks, forcing asylum seekers trying to enter Greece back to Turkey.
The resignation also follows a separate investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud agency, Olaf. A spokesperson for Olaf confirmed an investigation into Frontex was closed on 15 February, but declined to make any further comment, citing confidentiality rules to protect the people involved and “possible follow-up in administrative and judicial proceedings”.
It remains unclear whether the criticism from rights groups or the Olaf investigation played any role in his decision to quit.
Leggeri, a French national who held senior posts in his country’s interior and defence ministries, has led Frontex since 2015, a period when it was transformed from an obscure EU agency into a central plank of the EU border control policy. After the 2015 migration crisis, EU leaders agreed to give the Warsaw-based agency more powers, staff and money. By 2027, Frontex is due to have 10,000 border and coast guards and its budget has already increased more than 19-fold since its creation in 2006.
The German MEP Birgit Sippel, who speaks for the Socialist group on home affairs, said Leggeri’s resignation was long overdue, the Guardian reported.
Today, after more than 2 years of investigations by @LHReports, the head of the EU’s border agency Frontex resigned. Small teams working in Europe’s public interest can make a big difference. Explainer in short 🧵 pic.twitter.com/4mkMHfiwue
— Lighthouse Reports (@LHreports) April 29, 2022
PS Meanwhile Greeks diplomatically wonder….
Greece's migration minister recently gave a medal to Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri for his work.
Leggeri has now resigned amid reports of misconduct and turning a blind eye on wrongdoing in Greece.
Frontex should instead be a safeguard against rights violations by EU states.
— Manos Moschopoulos (@maledictus) April 29, 2022
Some others comments whether the Greek Migration Minister will now request the medal back. And the impact of Leggeri’s resignation on the Minister himself…