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Ombudsman asks Frontex to improve its accountability

The Ombudsman has asked Frontex to improve its accountability after conducting a strategic inquiry into how it complies with its fundamental rights obligations under its expanded mandate.

The inquiry examined the transparency of Frontex’s joint operations with national authorities at the EU’s borders, how it identifies fundamental rights concerns, and how it monitors the return of people seeking asylum.

The Ombudsman identified several areas where Frontex could improve its practices, including by publishing summaries of its operational plans, and further training its fundamental rights monitors.

The Ombudsman also asked Frontex to publish its reply to each negative opinion of the Fundamental Rights Officer about a planned activity, and to ensure cultural experts are present during screening interviews.

The strategic inquiry follows the recently-closed inquiry into Frontex’s complaints mechanism, where the Ombudsman suggested several ways to strengthen independence of the mechanism and encourage people to use it.

Frontex’s mandate was expanded in 2019 with the coming into force of a new regulation (2019/1896) which includes a provision establishing a standing corps, which can be deployed to the EU’s borders. The standing corps carries out tasks related to border management, migration management, rapid border interventions and return operations.