Spain competes for more power in Frontex

by Lorraine Williamson
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MADRID – The Spanish Ministry of the Interior has nominated its own police officer for one of the top positions within the coastal and border agency Frontex. Spain hopes to gain more influence in EU decision-making on illegal migration. 

The candidate for the vacant position would become the future director of Frontex, according to sources surrounding the negotiations. In a letter newspaper El País had access to, Minister Fernado Grande-Marlaska informed the current Frontex director “to continue to negotiate to participate more strongly in the decision-making and action plans of the agency in the future”. 

The minister assured Frontex that Spain will contribute great added value in solving the common migration problems. 

Several Spanish government departments have increased pressure on members of Frontex’s Board of Directors. In addition to two representatives from the European Commission, the Board consists of top officials from security services of the 27 European Member States. This includes an official from the Spanish police and one from the Guardia Civil. 

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Less and less influence while migrant pressure increases 

Despite mounting migrant pressure on Spain, the country is losing influence in Europe’s main body for migration affairs. Spain’s Gil Arias stepped down from his post as Frontex’s deputy director in 2015. Since then, no significant position of power has been held by a Spanish candidate. Now the aim is to occupy a crucial directorate that will provide operational leadership over the 10,000 armed agents Frontex plans to deploy until 2027. 

The candidate nominated by Spain is Police Chief Ramón Navarro Franch, an expert in international police cooperation. Franch has gained experience in Niger, Libya and Senegal. These are crucial countries located on the migration routes towards Europe and mainly towards the Canary Islands. More than 30,000 African migrants arrived there in 2019. 

However, Spain is not the only country competing for the top position within Frontex. Northern and Eastern European countries have also nominated a candidate. According to a spokesman for Frontex, the selection procedure will not take place until September this year. 

Violation of human rights 

The Border and Coast Agency is currently going through a difficult time over suspected human rights violations in the Aegean Sea. The European Parliament has now launched an investigation into this. And as such, should the current director Fabrice Leggeri manage to prevent new scandals for the agency, he will mostly likely remain in his current position until 2025. 

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