Home » Politics » Get your house in order! EU Brexit lecturing backfires – bloc can’t even police OWN border
Get your house in order! EU Brexit lecturing backfires – bloc can’t even police OWN border
June 18, 2021
Frontex wants more power to deal with migrant crisis
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EU expert Pieter Cleppe has said the coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation still further, with a steady stream of counterfeit cigarettes and drugs flooding into the bloc as a result of lax controls highlighted earlier last week by the European Court of Auditors. Specifically, the ECA’s report was deeply critical of Frontex, the EU’s border force, suggesting it was not currently fit for purpose.
Mr Cleppe, a research fellow with the think tank Property Rights Alliance, highlighted his concerns in a report published on the Brussels Report website.
In it, he highlights the decision to arm border guards after the EU issued them with 2,500 semi-automatic pistols and three million full metal jacket rounds of ammunition, at a cost of £4.3million.
Furthermore, he pointed to moves within the European Parliament to scrap Frontex entirely, while Abolish Frontex, a coalition of left-wing organisations, is calling for the same thing.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Cleppe highlighted the bloc’s threat of legal action in respect of the NI Protocol, the controversial mechanism for preventing a hard border of the island of Ireland which has instead resulted in a border down the Irish Sea, according to Unionist critics.
He contrasted their approach with the more lax standards else, saying: “While the EU refuses to be flexible on the issue of goods checks in the Irish Sea, supposedly to avoid a backdoor into its own single market, the EU’s auditing body declares that the EU is failing to properly guard its external border itself.
“The pandemic has worsened this problem, as it sparked more illicit trade in products like cigarettes and narcotics.
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“This caused more smokers to switch to illegally produced cigarettes, something which presents a health hazard.
“When illicit products become easier to import, because of lax border checks, crime groups manage to grab even more market share from legitimate businesses.
“Higher tobacco taxes in some countries only strengthen this dynamic.
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“According to one estimate, average illegal trade grows by seven percent when cigarettes become 10 percent more expensive relative to incomes.”
Speaking at a news conference last week, Leo Brincat, the ECA report’s author and a former minister in the Maltese government, said Frontex was failing discharging its essential duties of fighting cross-border crime and illegal immigration effectively.
He added: “This is even more worrying at a time when Frontex is being given added responsibilities.
“I think the main issue was that Frontex was biting off more than it could chew in a sense.
“They went through many changes too fast and now they are paying the price for this.”
Mr Brincat added: “We are not saying ‘scrap Frontex’ but definitely Frontex is often its own worst enemy.
“It should address its problems for its own good.”
Frontex, which only started with 45 officers in 2006 was expanded enormously after the 2015 migration crisis.
As a result, it now has nearly 10,000 officers, with its budget is set to increase to just over £770million by 2027, up from just £16.3 million at its inception.
Meanwhile Northern Irish politics was plunged into chaos today after Edwin Boots confirmed he was quitting as the DUP’s leader after just three weeks.
Mr Poots’ resignation comes after the vast majority of DUP MLAs and MPs earlier voted against Mr Poots’ decision to proceed with reconstituting the Stormont Executive, amid party anger at a UK Government pledge to grant Sinn Fein a key concession on Irish language laws.
Meanwhile wrangling over the NI Protocol continues to drag on, with Brexit Minister Lord David Frost yesterday warning “something has got to give”.