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    5. Former EU border chief joins Marine Le Pen's far-right party

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    Former EU border chief joins Marine Le Pen's far-right party

    Fabrice Leggeri, former director of Frontex, said: “I prefer to put my experience and knowledge at the service of the French.” NICOLAS TOUCAT/AFP/Getty Images

    The former EU border chief has joined Marine Le Pen's Eurosceptic party and accused Brussels of not wanting to stop migration.

    Fabrice Leggeri, a Frenchman, was director of Frontex from 2015 to 2022 , and then resigned following an investigation by the block's anti-fraud organization.

    Mr Leggeri has said he will stand for Ms Le Pen's anti-migrant National Rally in June European Parliament elections.

    “I prefer to put my experience and knowledge at the service of the French people,” said the 55-year-old former civil servant.

    “Our goal is clear: to regain control of the borders of the European Union and France.”

    He added: “We are determined to fight the migration plunge that the European Commission and Eurocrats are considered not a problem, but rather a project.”

    Mr Leggeri worked for the French state for about 30 years and led Frontex for almost seven. He said his experience working in security and immigration influenced his decision to join the National Rally.

    He was reported to be third on the party list, so it is almost certain that he will become an MEP in the next European Parliament .

    Jordan Bardella, president of the National Rally, praised Fabrice Leggeri's experience in “fighting the flood.” Photo: NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images

    On Monday, Jordan Bardella, 28, who heads the National Rally's European campaign, said Mr Leggeri's experience in “fighting the flood” was valuable.

    He said: “As the former head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri fought against the migration ideology of the European Commission.”

    Standing next to Mr Bardella, Mr Leggeri said: “Frontex has been misled by the European Commission and it needs to re-establish its role as border guard.”

    Mr Leggeri has often been accused of tolerating to illegal “pushbacks” of migrants when he headed Frontex.

    He was director of the agency at a time when its resources were stretched sharply by the 2015 migration crisis and when EU members demanded tighter borders.

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    He quit after Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud watchdog, found that Frontex officials knew about the illegal displacement of migrants in the Mediterranean but did not report them.

    In Olaf's confidential report to Mr Leggeri said he “did not follow procedures, was dishonest with the EU and mismanaged staff”, according to French magazine Le Point.

    In his resignation letter to Olaf, Mr Leggeri said: “It appears that the Frontex mandate under which I was elected and renewed in June 2019 has been quietly but effectively changed.”

    It faced criticism from the European Parliament's Select Committee, which accused Frontext of failing to protect the rights of asylum seekers.

    The National Rally is predicted to become France's most successful party in the European elections and will show its strongest results in the voting of the entire bloc.

    According to some polls, she won up to 33 percent of the vote, while Emmanuel Macron's party is projected to get about half that.

    Conservative republicans were reported to have tried but failed to persuade Mr Leggeri to join their party.

    Europe's far-right anti-immigrant parties are expected to do well in the June elections.

    As are in France, they are predicted to win the elections. the highest number of votes in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia.

    They are expected to finish second or third in the vote in Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden, according to a report by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

    The latest data published by Frontex showed that the number of illegal border crossings with the EU fell in January.

    In January the number fell to almost 14,000, about a third less than in December.

    The monthly drop was 71 percent in the Mediterranean and 30 percent on the land route to the EU through the Western Balkans.

    The number of arrivals on the West African route has increased by almost 50 percent. More than 6,600 migrants, 10 times more than last year, arrived during the usually quiet January period, Frontex said last week.

    People smuggling gangs in Mauritania are cramming migrants into small wooden fishing boats and take them away. them to the Canary Islands, which, like Spain, are part of the EU.

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