EU border agency chief resigns following criticism
The resignation comes following alleged misconduct within Frontex in connection with human rights violations at the EU's external borders.
Fabrice Leggeri, the Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has resigned following criticism of the agency's actions.
"As announced during my hearing today, I would like to confirm here in writing my position … I give my mandate back to the Management Board as it seems that Frontex mandate on which I have been elected and renewed in June 2019 has silently but effectively been changed," Leggeri said in a statement seen by Sputnik.
On February 28, Ville Itala, the director-general of the European Anti-Fraud Office, delivered the agency's findings on alleged misbehavior inside Frontex, namely in connection with human rights abuses at the EU's external borders.
According to the investigation, Frontex's management was aware of the problem but purposefully avoided reporting it.
Due to many flaws in Frontex's operations, the European Parliament's Budget Committee recommended freezing a portion of its funds in September.
Parliamentarians, in particular, raised concerns about the agency's finances, recruitment, and procurement procedures, as well as difficulties in combating illegal migration and cross-border crime.
His resignation comes a day after a report by a consortium of European media organizations, including France's Le Monde, Germany's Der Spiegel, Switzerland's SRF et Republik, and the investigative journalism NGO Lighthouse Reports, revealed that Frontex recorded at least 22 "prevention of departure" pushbacks.
These involved about 950 migrants and were carried out in the Aegean Sea by Frontex and Greek authorities between March 2020 and September 2021.
Marked by repeated political scares over migrant arrivals in Europe, Leggeri's seven years as Frontex chief have coincided with a major increase in resources for the agency.
It is set to grow to 10,000 staff watching the EU's external borders by 2027.
But the agency also reported last week that irregular crossings into the EU were the highest in six years in January-March this year, with 40,300 entries.
The biggest numbers of irregular crossings were detected coming from the Western Balkans, mostly entering the EU via Greece and Bulgaria.
They accounted for around half of all irregular entries, with the main migrant nationalities being Syrian and Afghan.