Wednesday

28th Sep 2022

Frontex takes transparency activists to EU court

  • An EU Triton vessel clearly identified in a photo first published by Frontex themselves - despite the agency's refusal now to release such details (Photo: Frontex)

The EU's border agency Frontex has launched renewed legal proceedings against a pair of pro-transparency campaigners.

The Warsaw-based agency is trying to recuperate almost €24,000 in legal fees after winning an EU general court case against Luisa Izuzquiza and Arne Semsrott.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"They will be seeking the amount of legal fees corresponding to our case against us plus the new costs associated to this new case," Izuzquiza told EUobserver on Tuesday (1 December).

The pair had initially sought access to the name, flag and type of each vessel deployed by Frontex in the central Mediterranean under its Joint Operation Triton.

They pointed out Frontex had already disclosed such information about some of its operations, often through Twitter.

The agency had for instance once posted an image of a Triton ship on its website, which it then later retracted - and is illustrating this article.

But Frontex refused the pair's requests, citing security issues and was then taken to the EU general court - which sided with the agency in a November 2019 ruling.

Now Frontex has lodged an application with the same court, last month, to initiate proceedings against the pair for not having paid up.

"What they are tying to say is that if you ever dare take us to court again be prepared to be slapped with a five-figure legal bill," said Izuzquiza.

The campaigners had earlier this year launched a petition to get Frontex to retract the legal bill.

Some 87,000 people have signed it, including dozens of NGOs.

It was also through freedom of information requests filed by Izuzquiza and Semsrott to Frontex on EUobserver's behalf that this website was able to break a story about Greek push backs.

For its part, Frontex says the court had ordered Izuzquiza and Semsrott to pay its legal fees.

Frontex argues receiving the money ensures sound financial management and protects the financial interests of the EU.

"As a public institution relying on the funds that ultimately come from European taxpayers, we cannot refuse a court ruling that asks the parties that sued us to pay the legal costs," said a Frontex spokesperson, in an email.

The agency's annual budget for 2020 was €460m.

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill

Two pro-transparency campaigners received a €23,700 bill from the EU's border agency Frontex after having lost a court case. Frontex's budget for 2020 is €460m. The campaigners refuse to pay, saying the agency doesn't need the money.

Exclusive

Frontex chief took €8,500 private flight to Brussels meeting

Frontex spent €8,500 to send its executive director Fabrice Leggeri on a private jet to attend an evening meeting in Brussels. The Warsaw-based agency said there were scheduling conflicts preventing him taking a commercial flight.

Frontex embroiled in new transparency case

Last October, Der Spiegel published an investigation into illegal pushbacks off the Greek islands, implicating the EU's border agency Frontex. Journalists asked Frontex to release location data of its vessels, so has an MEP - without success.

Exclusive

Frontex spent €94,000 on a dinner in Warsaw

The European Border and Coast Guard Day is held every May. The event includes movies, football and volleyball matches between Frontex and national border guards, shooting competitions and exercises to detect smugglers.

Frontex redacts its hospitality spending figures

The EU's border agency Frontex has blacked-out entire documents on how it spends EU taxpayer money on itself, including gala dinners and hotels. The agency, whose annual budget has soared to €544m, claims there is "no overriding public" interest.

Opinion

Could blockchain help EU process asylum claims?

Asylum proceedings are one of the biggest issues with the EU's migration policy, and digital identification through blockchain to register and track refugees would be an instrumental step towards the level of necessary reform.

News in Brief

  1. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  2. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  3. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  4. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap
  5. EU: Nord Stream explosions 'result of a deliberate act'
  6. EU okays €21bn Covid-recovery funding for Italy amid concern
  7. Greece pitches new EU fund to tackle energy prices
  8. Hungary says sanctions 'harming Europe more than Russia'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Latest News

  1. Can King Charles III reset the broken Brexit relationship?
  2. Meloni's navy-blockade plan to stop Libya migrants 'unlikely'
  3. Underwater explosions were detected near Nord Stream leaks
  4. EU countries stall new pesticide rules, blame Ukraine war
  5. The UN's Uyghur report must push EU into China sanctions
  6. Russian diamonds ban 'would cost 10,000 jobs', Antwerp claims
  7. EU should admonish less, and listen more, to the Global South
  8. Foul play suspicions in Nord Stream leaks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us