The European border agency, Frontex, remains in the crosshairs of the EU’s anti-fraud office. For a few months, he has been accused of violating international and humanitarian law by allegedly returning migrants to Turkish soil who were trying to seek asylum in Greece. Euronews has interviewed Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs to get her opinion on this.
Darren McCaffrey, Euronews: When did you learn of the allegations?
Ylva Johansson: I found out through the media in November, if I remember correctly. And then I immediately called, of course, the CEO and asked him to clarify. But then there were more questions. So we ask for an extraordinary meeting and a board of directors.
Darren McCaffrey, Euronews: Do you think the organization is, in a sense, growing too fast? Do you think maybe you need to slow down your hiring speed, or even stop until the situation clears up?
Ylva Johansson: No, I don’t think it is a speed problem, I think they have had enough time to hire their workers and to get them running. I don’t think it’s fair to say that there wasn’t enough time to do it.
Darren McCaffrey, Euronews: So what is wrong?
Ylva Johansson: Well, I think that’s part of what the board of directors is discussing now. And I think it’s the right thing to do. From them I hope that a series of recommendations will be issued to the management of the agency and the executive director on how it should be solved.
Darren McCaffrey, Euronews: If the report is found to be damaging and these allegations are true, then your position would certainly be untenable.
Ylva Johansson: Well, hopefully it is not proven that you have participated in these returns, for example. I really hope so and I wish Frontex had nothing to do with it. But you have to clarify it and answer all the questions.
Darren McCaffrey, Euronews: Don’t you think that perhaps it is European migration policy that leads to problems like this?
Ylva Johansson: I don’t agree with you at all. What I have just said is that we need a strong Frontex to protect our borders and to protect our values. And there is no contradiction in this. What we protect when we protect our borders is actually the European Union and we are based on values and we have to fulfill our commitments based on them and on the protection of our borders. And this is really important. And that is one of the reasons why we really need an agency like Frontex.