Exclusive: Former Frontex chief tells Remix News the inside story behind the EU commission’s push for mass immigration and open borders

On Feb. 17, Frenchman Fabrice Leggeri shocked the European elites by announcing he would run as an MEP for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in the upcoming EU parliament elections. In an exclusive interview with Remix News, the former director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) from 2015 to 2022, explains what led him to join Le Pen’s party.

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Olivier Bault
Fabrice Leggeri, the head of Europe's border control agency, Frontex, addresses the media on the current migratory situation and the new regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, at Frontex offices in Brussels, Belgium, Monday, July 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

What could make a former Frontex director decide to run in the European elections, and to do so with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally?

As you know, I was director of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, for over seven years. I was at the heart of the European machinery for managing external borders and immigration, and thus of the fight against illegal immigration.

As a result, I am a witness and a key player who has realized that urgent action is needed to counteract the European Commission’s negative action on migration. I came to realize that the European Commission didn’t see illegal immigration as a problem but as a project.

I became particularly aware of the seriousness of this fact with the arrival of the von der Leyen Commission at the end of 2019 and in particular, within this von der Leyen Commission, of European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

File – In this Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, file photo, Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex, attends a meeting of EU Interior ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

She’s a leftist who describes herself as a social democrat but she began her political life in Sweden with the Left Party – Communists (Vänsterpartiet Kommunisterna). Her vision of things is, in my opinion, much closer to the radical left, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s France Insoumise (France Unbowed) in France, than to the Social Democrats.

I saw the extremely negative side of this European Commission under the influence of immigrationist NGO lobbies, all of this against a backdrop of activism of a certain left, the far left, and the Greens within the European Parliament.

All this motivated me to act because I realized that when you’re a civil servant, even if you have high responsibilities, which was my case, there are limits to what you can do. So either you resign yourself and keep quiet, or you quit your job. The third solution, when you really have a sense of public service and general interest, is to enter politics.

What particularly shocked me about the way the European Commission, and Commissioner Johansson in particular, reacted was that they changed Frontex’s mission.

Johansson told me right away, at the end of October 2019, when I first saw her: “But with this European corps, why do you need weapons and uniforms? Migrants come out of love, and your job is to welcome them. Europe is an aging continent, and whether you like it or not, you have to welcome them.”

That’s when I said to myself that there’s been a complete change in our mandate since the mission for which I had been elected and re-elected for a second term was to build a European body that would be like a border police force assisting the EU member states.

And if I chose Marine Le Pen’s National Rally to enter politics, it is because I want to be in opposition to Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission, which was installed by President Macron. I am resolutely in the opposition to von der Leyen and to Macron.

Concerning this statement by Commissioner Johansson, just after you had already mentioned it in France’s Journal du Dimanche (JDD), the Commission denied it last week and said that your statements on this subject are false. So you do confirm that she said that. It is what you heard her say the first time you met her in October 2019, right?

I can confirm this, and what I find quite astonishing on the part of the European Commission and Commissioner Johansson is that a German journalist, from Die Welt, met me a few weeks ago while working on an article that was published on January 21, 2024, in Die Welt am Sonntag, and he quoted this same sentence attributing it to Mrs. Johansson, but before publishing, he questioned Mrs. Johansson’s cabinet and they refused to comment.

If she considered this sentence to be false, she should have already said so in mid-January to journalist Tim Röhn of Welt am Sonntag. How come she’s only saying this now, when it’s become a central phrase in the launch of the French election campaign?

You were a senior civil servant at the Ministry of the Interior in a Socialist government in France and then proposed by that Socialist government to head Frontex in 2014. Does that mean you used to have left-wing views, or were you simply an apolitical senior civil servant who could just as easily have performed the same duties for a right-wing government?

I wasn’t left-wing at all, and I wasn’t doing politics. I was a senior civil servant and respected the neutrality of my position. Personally, I’ve always tended towards the right, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing my job loyally, particularly vis-à-vis the Socialist government of Manuel Valls, where Bernard Cazeneuve was minister of the interior.

At the time, Bernard Cazeneuve proposed my candidacy because he wanted there to be a French candidate, and his vision was that Frontex should help to make the Schengen Area work better, i.e., to control and protect external borders.

This was in 2014 during the campaign to win the votes of the member states, and he told me that the Schengen Area would not survive if we did not manage to make border control credible. There was the Arab Spring in 2011, so Minister Cazeneuve told me at the time that we had to control our external borders because otherwise member states would lose confidence and the Schengen Area would collapse.

It was a mission that suited me well since it involved reinforcing the external borders and not bringing in migrants.

Bernard Cazeneuve didn’t ask me what my political opinions were. He simply considered that I had the competence and the will to go there to control the borders, and therefore felt he could support my candidacy.

Do you really think you can influence those EU policies from the benches of the European Parliament? Even if the National Rally and its allies further improve their results compared to the last elections, the eternal de facto grand coalition, stretching from the “center-right” European People’s Party (EPP) to the far left, will always have a majority anyway, won’t it?

The thing is, we need to act at both the national and EU level.

The European election serves the purpose of sending National Rally members to the European Parliament. If I’m elected, the mission I’d like to contribute to is, firstly, to build alliances with MEPs from different countries whose sensitivities are similar to ours, and who, we must say, have the wind in their sails, at least when it comes to immigration and borders.

The idea is that if we control up to a third of the European Parliament together, we’ll be able to have weight as a blocking minority that has to be taken into consideration.

The EPP will then be compelled to face up to its responsibilities. Will it govern from the left or the right? Will it still be the European right, or will it end up as some sort of motley crew featuring all types of views?

We’ll probably be able to influence at least the EPP’s right wing, which will feel closer to our eurosceptic third of the European Parliament than to the left and far left, not only where immigration and borders are concerned, but also the Green pact, for example. We’ve already seen moves in this direction in the current legislature, which is nearing its end.

The European Parliament will also be asked to vote on the composition of the next European Commission. If Ursula Von der Leyen is chosen again by the heads of states and governments to be the president of the European Commission, as an elected member of the National Rally I will be voting “no.”

Then there will be a vote on each European commissioner, and I would like to contribute my knowledge and experience of the EU to ask incisive questions and grill the candidates for the posts of European commissioners.

At the National Rally, we don’t want to have European commissioners like Ylva Johansson telling us that immigration is good, that we should let everyone in, and that we shouldn’t stop illegal immigrants from crossing borders.

We don’t want to have this lady knitting during meetings with member states’ interior ministers in the council, ostensibly to convey the message: “I don’t give a shit what you tell me.” Because that’s what she does every time ministers say things she doesn’t like.

This was often the case when Polish ministers or secretaries of state took the floor, but not only. Whenever a minister spoke of the need to control borders and spoke out against illegal immigration, and against the Migration Pact’s relocation scheme, Commissioner Johansson would ostensibly start knitting to tell them to go to hell.

We really don’t want to have people like that, and my role is also to contribute, along with the other elected representatives of France’s National Rally and other elected representatives of European political groups allied or at least close to our platform, to grilling the candidates and later to exercising vigilant control over what the European Commission does.

Is defending borders the main objective of your political involvement?

I do attach a great deal of importance to border surveillance, but I’m also very concerned about democratic processes in Europe.

Beyond the question of borders and immigration, there are some very important areas that are strategic for the future of Europeans, and which the European Commission has been taking over even though it is not entitled to.

Let me give you an example that struck me in recent months. We hear talk of economic security, and we have the European Commission, with Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, riding this horse. This was strongly suggested to him by French President Emmanuel Macron.

However, in “Economic security,” there is the word “security,” and the European Commission has no competence in the field of security.

I am concerned to see the European Commission, and therefore European commissioners with the whole European Commission bureaucracy behind them, whose sociology I’m familiar with, trying to deal with extremely strategic and sensitive security issues when the commission doesn’t have the institutional competence to do so. Moreover, it has a biased mentality on certain subjects.

That’s why, if I’m elected, I want to be able to exercise democratic vigilance on behalf of the French people who will have elected me. But beyond the French people, all the other European peoples that are part of the European Union may also have concerns about all this, and my voice may also join the concerns expressed by other MEPs from other countries.

On the question of borders, do you really think Marine Le Pen will do better than Giorgia Meloni? Giorgia Meloni had also promised to put an end to illegal immigration by taking strong measures. She had even talked about a naval blockade, and for over a year now that she has been in power at the head of a right-wing coalition, we can see that she is doing no better than her predecessors and even worse than the first Conte government when Salvini was interior minister.

I’m convinced that the National Rally is making the right diagnosis, in a lucid way, on immigration and on the fact that there is urgency for France. And we must act in two stages. There are the European elections and then, three years later for France, there are the presidential and legislative elections.

The more weight parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Rally will have at the EU level, the more we can bring the European Commission under control.

I remember that about 48 hours before the Italian elections, European Commission President Von der Leyen threatened the Italians with financial sanctions if they didn’t vote correctly, i.e., if they elected a coalition that would make Giorgia Meloni prime minister. So it is clear that there is this kind of intimidation and blackmail against certain member states.

So you think that the astonishingly lax immigration policies of Giorgia Meloni and her government are partly the result of blackmail from Brussels, right?

Yes, I think Italy has been the victim of blackmail with EU funds, and this was already quite clear in von der Leyen’s statements two days before the Italian elections.

Your successor as director of Frontex, Dutchman Hans Leijtens, recently said that he thought it was impossible to stop illegal immigration completely, and that illegal immigration had to be “managed.” And at the start of his mandate as the head of Frontex, in May 2022, he said he wanted to cleanse Frontex of its “toxic” atmosphere, and he promised to emphasize respect for human rights and not to turn a blind eye to the pushbacks at the external borders. How would you describe this new approach to Frontex’s mission?

I won’t comment personally on my successor, but I will make a political comment. I think that the statement made by the new director of Frontex illustrates and confirms that today it is the European Commission that has taken power in the European border surveillance agency.

As proof of this, I’d like to mention something that surprised me before Hans Leijtens officially took up his post, when he gave a press briefing with Commissioner Johansson in the Berlaymont building, where the commission’s headquarters are located. It is something neither I nor my predecessors had done, and no commissioner had asked me to do it. When I found myself doing press briefings with the European commissioner, it was in the context of field visits, when we were visiting the European border guard corps.

In fact, these statements by Frontex’s new director confirm that the political control of Frontex has been taken over by the European Commission and the immigrationist lobbies that have infiltrated the commission.

Fabrice Leggeri is currently number three on the list of National Rally’s elections for the European Parliament.

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