Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Theoretical framework. – III. Frontex’s bumpy road towards fundamental rights protection. – IV. The Consultative Forum’s contribution to Frontex’s accountability. – IV.1. Political accountability. – IV.2. Legal accountability. – IV.3. Administrative accountability. – IV.4. Social accountability. – V. Conclusions. – Annex: List of interviews.
Abstract: Frontex has been heavily criticized for disregarding fundamental rights in its border management from the outset. To address this critique, the EU legislators established a Consultative Forum on fundamental rights to provide independent advice in fundamental rights matters. Despite the importance of this issue, little effort has been made to study the role and impact of the Consultative Forum. Addressing this research gap, this Article seeks to answer whether the Consultative Forum has improved Frontex’s fundamental rights accountability. Theoretically, we will combine the concept of accountability elaborated by Bovens and the notion of dialogues, allowing us to assess the interaction of the Consultative Forum with the various fora which are supposed to hold Frontex to account. As a special form of communication, dialogues focus on the giving and taking of various sorts including information, arguments and justifications. We argue that the status of the Forum and its possibility to engage with internal and external stakeholders on a regular basis provide an opportunity to strengthen dialogues with and between Frontex’s accountability fora. While the impact of these accountability dialogues has been modest so far, we nonetheless acknowledge their normative potential to enhance the accountability of Frontex.
Keywords: Frontex – Consultative Forum – accountability – EU Border Management – fundamental rights – EU agencies.