Gil Arias Fernández, former deputy director at Frontex, said he was deeply worried about the agency’s decision to arm officers.
“Weapons are not needed for Frontex operations,” he said. “They are more of a problem than a help...Operations have always been conducted unarmed and there have never been any problems. In operations where Libyan tribal clans smuggling migrants shot in the air to frighten the patrols, even there it was not considered appropriate to carry weapons.
He said decisions made by one of the EU’s most powerful agencies had led to complicity in human rights violations.
“I do not believe that the agency has proactively violated the rights of migrants, but there are reasons to believe that it has turned a blind eye.”
Arias Fernández pointed to the dearth of human rights training for Frontex officers.
He said that immigration was vitally important for the survival of all European states. Arias Fernández said the lack of migrants being allowed into Europe would have a severe economic impact amid an ageing workforce: “Who will pay the pensions of the growing number of pensioners?”
“I come to this conclusion because there are studies that show that if we do not resort to immigration and other incentives, the EU will have serious problems and the welfare state will be a chimera. We should learn these lessons. In the first half of the pandemic, migrants saved our bacon. “In Europe, movements that use populism are growing at an alarming rate, and the fight against immigrants is one of those arguments. States are excessively prudent in not touching this issue. The commission presented the new pact on migration and asylum, which contains no proposals for channelling migration through legal channels. They tried to satisfy all the blocs, Visegrád [Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia], southern states, northern states, and I fear that in the end it satisfies no one.”
He explained that “There is no filter in the recruitment system. You cannot prevent people with extremist ideas from entering, unless they clearly express their position in favour of hate crimes, xenophobia and racism.”