Olaf vs. Frontex

European Diary, 13.1.2021: The news has hit home. The EU’s anti-fraud agency (Olaf) is investigating the EU border agency Frontex.

For many months, Croatian border guards have been trampling EU law and forcibly driving refugees back to Bosnia at the EU’s external border. They do this with the applause of some governments in Europe. Hungary and Austria are at the forefront of covering up this open violation of the law, or approving it when covering it up no longer works in the face of so much evidence. Finally, Austrian border officials are not squeamish when it comes to covering their ears at the Slovenian border when refugees ask for asylum – and instead forcibly push them back into Slovenia, from where they are deported to the Croats, who then dump them at the Bosnian border. In return, the EU then pays Bosnia money to take care of these illegally deported refugees. In Bosnia, this money ends up in invisible channels – but obviously not in refugee care. For example, hundreds of refugees were allowed to spend the end of the year outside in the freezing cold because the improvised Lipa tent camp still had no electricity, no water and no heating and was therefore closed down by the International Organization for Migration. Since then, not much has happened. Except what is now called “on-site assistance”: a few new, unheated tents, with no water and no electricity. 2000 refugees are now squatting in the forest, mostly under plastic sheets. In sub-zero temperatures. Many of the cases are well documented.
To this day, the European Court of Human Rights does not dare to address this ongoing breach of law by EU member states and aspirants. But at least Frontex, the border protection agency run by the EU itself, is now under investigation. For a long time, countries like Hungary, Poland and Austria placed high hopes in Frontex. Then Orban and Kurz realized that Frontex, too, must abide by laws. And Frontex fell out of favor.
But Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri apparently wanted to save his reputation in Budapest, Warsaw and Vienna in 2020. So Frontex is now, as has been known for months, in the eastern Mediterranean involved in illegal refoulements off the Greek coast. And there are other things that seem to be going wrong at the agency, from intimidation of employees who have concerns to irregularities in tenders. Whether the ongoing investigations will have any consequences remains to be seen.




Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)