The European Parliament voted 22-3 to postpone signing the border agency’s budget until concerns are resolved.
European Union lawmakers on Tuesday refused to approve the budget for the EU’s border and coast guard agency over concerns over allegations of rights violations, recruitment failures and harassment from senior Frontex officials.
The European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee voted by 22 votes to 3, with five abstentions, to postpone its approval of the 2019 Frontex budget “until further clarifications are made on a series of issues”.
Frontex, which oversees the EU27’s external borders, is under pressure following a series of allegations that it was involved in illegal refoulements of migrants, notably in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey.
An official investigation erased her from the refoulement demands, but criticized the reporting and surveillance failures. Some European legislators are calling for the resignation of the head of Frontex. The European Parliament has also set up its own “monitoring group”, which is expected to publish its findings on the agency over the summer.
Frontex was supposed to have hired 40 fundamental rights officers by December to help monitor possible abuses, but has so far employed none. A number of managerial positions at the agency also remain vacant.
With Tuesday’s vote, lawmakers “expressed serious concerns about delays in the process of recruiting the head of fundamental rights and supervisors” and “the significant gender imbalance, especially at the board level.”
They have also raised reports of cases of harassment and possible meetings between Frontex staff and company lobbyists, and they want the assembly monitoring group to be more deeply involved in the investigation. repressions.
The decision to delay budget approval will likely be backed by the full parliament in a vote next month. If Frontex fails to clarify the issues as requested in the third quarter of 2021, the assembly could categorically refuse to approve its 2019 budget, but such a decision would be unprecedented.