Frontex And Spain Face Action Against Illegal Immigrants
2021-02-01 | by CusiGO
Relations between Spain and the European border and the coast guard are more tense than ever. According to three sources familiar with the incident, Frontex was forced to stop its activities in the Strait and the Canary Islands, as well as the devices deployed in each Strait operation, due to the struggle to deploy material resources and control operations. The decision was made through the office last Wednesday and even communicated with the IAEA agents deployed in the islands, which could turn into a political crisis. On Friday, Frontex issued a statement at its Warsaw headquarters to crack down on rumors and announced that it would stay in Spain for another year.
Tensions come from distant places and reflect disputes between national security agencies and forces and a European border agency with an extended mandate. In its 2021 business plan, which was closed earlier this year, Frontex called on Spain to strengthen control over intelligence and access to personal data on its border, Responsible for cross-border investigations (e.g. international drug trafficking syndicates) or the deployment of new European police forces, who are suspected professionals by the Spanish police. The negotiators didn’t like the proposal. A national security forces command believes that accepting Warsaw’s proposal means “abandoning sovereignty” and that conflicts “will erupt in the event of misfortune”.
The negotiations on these issues mark another major battle for Spain: the agency’s role in the Canary Islands, from which Frontex hopes to gain influence in Africa. Currently, the agency is working with a team of 26 Spanish and foreign police officers who support the national police in identifying and interviewing migrants with a view to disrupting the networks that facilitate their travel. However, the coverage of this deployment is limited. In the past 13 months, the number of people arriving in the islands has increased sharply, reaching nearly 25000. This has prompted Warsaw and Madrid to further negotiate and launch joint operations with the civil defense forces of Senegal.
The initial goal was to re-establish operation Hera II, which Frontex and the Civil Guard deployed in several countries of origin between 2006 and 2019, with the aim of closing the immigration corridor opened during the so-called kayukos crisis. But their differences have hindered the initiative.
On the one hand, according to Spanish sources familiar with the negotiations, Frontex passed a new regulation in 2019 giving it greater autonomy, claiming the need to sign its own bilateral agreement with Dakar to patrol its coast. The guard, on the other hand, demanded that the agency should not cooperate with more media in the country of origin and always do so under its coordination.
More than a decade ago, the guard, which had deployed agreements and personnel in Mauritania, Gambia and Senegal, had been concentrating on operations, investigations and relations with local authorities and did not intend to abandon that. “We are working in all of these areas, although Frontex’s popularity has declined in the past few years because it thinks the route is closed,” said a Spanish source. In short, the EU’s most budget body wants more power than Spanish officials are prepared to give it.
Spain’s attempt to stand in negotiations with Frontex’s business plan: without the aid of European institutions, the joint deployment in Senegal and the request to extend Frontex’s mission on national territory will not be accepted, another person familiar with the matter said. But in the end, Warsaw’s request has been accepted under pressure to possibly cancel the operation. “It’s a struggle between reality and the top people who sign the regulations in the office,” the source said.
Frontex, with a budget of 5.6 billion euros over the next seven years, compared with 19.2 million euros in 2006, will include 10000 of its own border and coast police. In the context of this growth, the agency began to demand more control and influence over the business, rather than just providing ships and aircraft. Spanish agents, on the other hand, want the support of the IAEA in their country of origin, but always under their command. They don’t want to give up space and capabilities in an area where they have been investing their resources and experience for many years.
European sources acknowledged that the inclusion of Frontex guards in Spanish operations “complicates negotiations on a new year’s work programme”. The plan had to come into effect on 1 February, as in every financial year, but friction delayed the negotiations: according to sources familiar with the negotiations, Spain requested significant changes to the business plan; the agency put forward counter proposals, which the Spanish authorities did not accept. The agreement was not reached until January 29, when the work plan had not yet been approved, and Frontex’s two business people in Spain would have no legal basis to continue. At Frontex, they say these operations have never been threatened and the agency has been committed to maintaining its presence in Spain.
In an interview with the European Commission Vice President Margaret hinas on January 27, she talked about the differences between Madrid and Warsaw.
Why do you think Spain is not optimistic about Frontex?
That’s what I want to know, why Frontex has a serious problem when it’s not in the Canary Islands, it’s a large number in the Aegean Sea, with hundreds of agents
Spain has supported the establishment and implementation of Frontex since the beginning of 2005, but over time it has been reluctant to involve officials of the agency in its terms of reference. Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, a member of the socialist party, explained: “Spain is characterized by its massive public resources invested in maritime rescue operations and control of its external borders.”. “This explains why, unlike other countries that are more dependent on the IAEA, such as Croatia, Greece and even Italy, it has retained a considerable role in border issues.”
The agency is now under unprecedented pressure as it is about to become the first uniformed and armed institution in the history of the European Union. The investigation is close to its director, Fabrice legri, who has been severely criticized for his mismanagement, deteriorating relations within the agency and, in particular, for his alleged connivance in the massive return of immigrants from the Greek Turkish border.