The EU’s border agency cannot effectively fight illegal immigration and is struggling to cope with its duties, auditors have warned.
Frontex was handed a bolstered role in policing the bloc’s borders after the 2015 migration crisis but it has become overstretched, said a report by the European Court of Arbitration, the EU’s financial watchdog.
It has almost 10,000 officers and its budget will increase to £774m by 2027 up from just £16.3m in 2006. It had just 45 officers in 2005, the year after it was created.
In 2016, its mandate was expanded to include cracking down on illegal migration and cross-border crime. The Warsaw headquartered agency helps national border police in their duties and has recently taken on new roles including in deportations.
Frontex was “biting off more than it could chew,” the report’s lead author, Leo Brincat said.
Mr Brincat said, “This is especially worrying at a time when Frontex is being given added responsibilities.”
“We are not saying ‘scrap Frontex’ but definitely Frontex is often its own worst enemy,” the former Maltese minister added.
The report found gaps in information exchange between Frontex and national border agencies, which stopped it being able to properly monitor borders.
Auditors also accused Frontex of a lack of transparency in detailing the real cost of its joint operations.
The agency has faced separate allegations its guards were involved in illegal pushbacks of migrants on the Greek-Turkish border.
The European Ombudsman, which scrutinises maladministration, has opened an investigation into whether Frontex breached migrants’ human rights.
A Frontex spokesman said it had “undergone a massive transformation that would have challenged any organisation, especially in the times of the COVID pandemic."
He told Deutsche Welle that Frontex was aware improvements were needed. “Unfortunately, many of the raised issues are related to external factors outside of the agency’s control," he added.