The European Commission has voiced its support for the chief of EU border agency Frontex after he said that it would be impossible to stop migration. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


EC backs Frontex chief who says ‘nothing can stop migration’ into EU


The European Commission has voiced its support for the chief of European Union border force Frontex after he said it was impossible to stop migration.

Speaking to the German media, the agency’s Executive Director Hans Leijtens said: “Nothing” can stop mass migration into Europe, “no wall, no fence, no sea, no river”.

That provoked outrage among some EU politicians, with the European People’s Party MEP Milan Zver writing to the EC to ask whether it still believed Leijtens was suitable for the job.

“The Director’s statements may well reflect his values and beliefs, but they stand in stark contrast to his basic task of protecting Europe’s borders against illegal crossings and crime,” Zver said.

“Years ago, when we set up Frontex … we did not imagine that it could be led by someone who is convinced that there is no tool to deter migrants from crossing the borders illegally.”

Responding to the query, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson insisted that Leijtens was appointed to his position on “merit and documented high-level administrative and management skills”, with his selection having been approved by the European Parliament.

Writing on behalf of the EC, she added that the Frontex chief had every right to publicly express his views on migration.

“The Executive Director of Frontex has the right to form and voice his opinion, as provided for in the Staff Regulations,” she said in a statement on April 9.

Johansson’s vote of confidence in Leijtens came shortly before the Parliament was set to vote on the controversial EU Migration Pact on April 10.

While the legislation was expected to pass, there has appeared to be growing discontent regarding the bill, both from politicians and members of the general public.

Speaking at a press event on April 9, even MEPs who planned to vote in favour of the bill seemed hesitant to fully endorse it. Many on the Left fear the rules could be used to violate the rights of asylum seekers, while those on the Right are concerned it could enable further mass immigration.

Others outside Brussels are now looking to undermine the bill. There are growing calls in Ireland for its politicians to invoke the country’s special right to opt out of the deal.

While the Irish Government had already committed itself to sign up, those in opposition have ridiculed the decision, with some suggesting a countrywide referendum on the legislation is in order.