EU lawmakers on Wednesday withheld approval on the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency's (Frontex) budget over “illegal pushbacks of migrants” as they signed off the bloc’s budget for 2020.
With 492 votes in favor, 145 against, and eight abstentions, the EU lawmakers adopted a resolution explaining their decision.
In a statement, they named the EU anti-fraud watchdog OLAF’s ongoing investigation into “fundamental rights incidents, including migrant pushbacks,” as well as Frontex’s “failure to fulfill the conditions” set by the European Parliament last year.
“Frontex operates in challenging circumstances and with its enhanced role comes the need for effective management and greater accountability,” said Czech EU lawmaker Tomas Zdechovsky.
He added that the European Parliament decided to postpone the discharge of the Frontex budget until autumn because they did not have enough information on the results of OLAF’s investigation.
Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri resigned last week.
The decision came after a joint investigation by prestigious European media outlets revealed that despite public denial, Frontex was involved in illegal pushbacks of asylum-seekers in the Aegean Sea.
OLAF is also expected soon to publish its report on the misgivings around the management of Frontex, while it has already drafted another report on the EU agency’s involvement in illegal pushbacks.
Since 2015, human rights organizations and leading media outlets have frequently reported illegal pushbacks and other human rights breaches by Greek authorities, as well as Frontex's complicity in these acts violating the EU and international laws./aa