82. Strategic decisions on the work of Frontex
are taken by the Management Board set up under Article 20 of the
Regulation. The Board consists of one representative from each
of the Schengen States. For the reasons we explained in paragraphs
54-60 the United Kingdom only has observer status. The Board adopts
the work programme, decides on the organisational structure of
the agency, and prepares the preliminary budget. It advises on
issues directly related to the technical development of border
control. General Laitinen explained that whenever the Board meetson
average five times a yearhe gives it a full written and
oral report of the state of play of Frontex activities and plans.
He thought the sharing of responsibilities with the Management
Board was very clear (Q 228).
83. The Management Board is required by Article
20(2)(b) of the Regulation to adopt an annual report by the end
of March each year, to send it to the Council, the Commission
and the European Parliament, and to publish it. It follows that
the annual report for 2007 will be adopted at much the same time
as this report is published, but so far the only annual report
has been that for 2006.
84. Frontex has an internal auditor within the
agency reporting to the Executive Director and his Deputy. The
Internal Audit Service of the Commission has visited Frontex,
and the European Court of Auditors has the formal responsibility
of auditing its accounts.
In the course of our scrutiny of EU documents we have recently
looked at the Report of the Court of Auditors on the 2006 accounts.
The accounts were approved, and the only comments were such as
might be expected when an organisation is just beginning its initial
recruitment and expenditure.
85. Apart from formal control of the budget,
the Parliament also has less formal ways of supervising the work
of the agency, in particular by summoning the Executive Director
to report and answer questions. On 11 June 2007 the Deputy Director
attended a meeting of the LIBE Committee where he gave a presentation
of the Work Programme for 2007 and discussed the events which
had then recently taken place in the Mediterranean (to which we
referred in paragraph 40). The following month the LIBE Committee
organised a public hearing on "Tragedies of Migrants at Sea",
and the Chairman of the Committee requestedindeed insisted
onthe participation of a representative of Frontex. The
inability of any of the three senior officials of Frontex to attend
that hearing caused a degree of friction.
86. Mr Simon Busuttil's view was that there
was not sufficient accountability (Q 115). Dr Bernard
Ryan, giving evidence on behalf of the Immigration Law Practitioners'
Association (ILPA), thought that the Management Board was "very
close to Frontex in terms of personnel, and although there are
reports, beyond that there are not specific structures in place
through which Frontex is accountable to and can take guidance
from democratic bodies
it is accountability to the public
at large or to the political system at large ... that is lacking"
(QQ 428, 432). This is a view shared by the Standing Committee
of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal
law (the Meijers Committee): "An institutional mechanism
of prompt democratic oversight over operational activities of
Frontex is non-existent" (p 168). Ms Muggeridge, on
behalf of the Refugee Council, suggested the appointment of an
ombudsman or observer to produce independent reports on operations
87. We heard criticism that some information
about the activities of Frontex which was or should be in the
public domain was not easily accessible, in particular on the
While information about risk analysis, operational planning and
similar matters must remain confidential, we believe Frontex should
take steps to ensure that all information which should be in the
public domain is easily accessible.
88. Jonathan Faull thought that, broadly speaking,
the current legal framework of the agency ensured adequate transparency
and accountability. He added that issues of accountability and
monitoring would form part of the review of the existing legal
framework in the evaluation report which Article 33 of the Regulation
required the Management Board to commission. (Q 75).
89. We believe that the current arrangements
for financial accountability are adequate.
90. Frontex should raise its public profile
by ensuring that information which is or should be in the public
domain is easily accessible to the public, in particular on its
91. Frontex should be more formally accountable
to the European Parliament. The Chairman of the Management Board
and the Executive Director should, if so requested, appear before
the Parliament or its Committees to discuss the activities of