Scandal-Hit Former Frontex Director Runs for EU Parliament with Far-Right Party

In the forthcoming European Parliament elections, Fabrice Leggeri, the former director of the EU border agency Frontex, who was embroiled in a major scandal, is now seeking a parliamentary seat.

Fabrice Leggeri

Leggeri is representing the French far-right party Rassemblement National, formerly known as Front National.

The party, rebranded in 2018 under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, has traditionally held strong anti-immigration stances and has recently been striving to position itself as a formidable contender against President Macron’s centrist La République En Marche!

OLAF investigation on Frontex

The controversy surrounding Leggeri stems from his tenure at Frontex, where he resigned in 2022 following a damning investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud agency, OLAF.

The investigation revealed serious misconduct, including illegal pushbacks of migrants at EU borders, particularly along the Aegean Sea at Greece’s frontier with Turkey. According to reports from Utopia 56, a migrants’ defense association, Frontex was implicated in nearly 222 incidents involving 8,355 people between March 2020 and September 2021.

The agency was accused of either failing to intervene against the violations, concealing evidence of these crimes, or sometimes even providing logistical and financial support to carry them out.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that at least 30,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean since 2014, with 16,272 of those deaths occurring between 2015 and 2022.

Such figures highlight the severe consequences of denying migrants the opportunity to apply for protection, a process that is protected under international and EU law but was obstructed by actions attributed to Frontex under Leggeri’s administration.

Fabrice Leggeri quit Frontex in 2022 after an investigation found gross misconduct at the border agency. He will be third on the party’s list for the European election in June.

One of the candidates from the RN

Leggeri’s candidacy raises significant concerns about the potential influence and direction of the Rassemblement National should they achieve notable success in the elections. The party is predicted to secure its highest-ever result, with forecasts suggesting they could receive up to 33% of the vote.

Far-right parties have engaged in efforts to moderate their image and broaden their appeal. This includes a quite different approach distancing themselves from extremist rhetoric and embracing younger, more polished leaders who can present a more palatable face for their movement.

This surge in support for far-right parties across Europe reflects a broader shift in the political landscape, where populist groups are gaining traction by capitalizing on public discontent and skepticism towards traditional EU policies.

The increasing popularity of these parties poses a fundamental challenge to the principles of tolerance, multiculturalism, and cooperation that are foundational to the European Union.

Their nationalistic and often xenophobic ideologies threaten to undermine the unity and solidarity essential for the EU’s stability. As these groups gain more power, they could potentially reshape the EU from within, prioritizing national interests over collective European goals and altering the course of EU policy, particularly concerning immigration and security.

The candidacy of Fabrice Leggeri in the European Parliament elections as part of the Rassemblement National is a critical development that could influence the future political landscape of the EU. His controversial past and the broader rise of far-right populism demand scrutiny from both voters and fellow policymakers. The outcomes of these elections will likely have profound implications for the direction and unity of the European Union.

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