The border-industrial complex: lobbying for and profiting from increased border security and control

[Presentation at the Security Flows workshop 'Datafication technologies, counter-power and resistance at the EU Borders' - panel 'Making datafied borders: private technologies, public money', 6 July 2021] Today and tomorrow, the European Parliament wil debate and vote on the Integrated Border Management Fund. It is already almost a given that this new instrument to strengthen EU member states' border security will be adopted. Last December the Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement, clearing the way for spending €6.24 billion over the next seven years on infastructure and equipment for border security and control, training, information exchange with Frontex and between member states, studies, development of new technologies, identification and fingerprinting equipment, IT systems and communication campaigns to sell EU's deadly border policies to the public. The new fund will result in further militarisation of the EU's external borders, which will lead to more violence and pushbacks against people on the move and in pushing them to more dangerous migration routes. It is however, music to the ears of the military and security industry. They will rake in a large part of the billions available, like they did with the funding under the predecessors of the Integrated Border Management Fund: the External Borders Fund (2007-2013) and the Internal Security Fund – Borders (2014-2020), which had about €4.5 billion to spend in total. One big winner was Italian shipbuilding company Fincantiere, which earned over €120 million providing patrol vessels to Greece, Italy and Malta. The new fund, with its huge budget increase compared to earlier funds, is just one part of the EU's expanding portfolio and budget for its 'war on migration'. We have to go back to the early 1990s to trace the roots of the current policies, when the establishment of the Schengen Area coupled the opening up of internal borders with increasing security and control at the external borders. Since then we have witnessed a gradual boosting and militarisation of the whole EU border system, with the so-called 'refugee crisis' of 2015 as the trigger for the obsession to stop migration the EU has displayed during the last years. This is not a coincidence, one of the drivers of these policies is the effective and extensive lobby from the European military and security industry. This industry is constantly presenting new equipment, technologies and services as 'necessary' novelties in the fields of border security and control, often warmly embraced by EU and member states' authorities. Company lobbyists and representatives of lobby organisations like the European Organisation for Security (EOS) regularly meet with EU institutions, including the European Commission, are part of official advisory committees, publish influential proposals, organise meetings between industry, policy-makers and executives and also meet at the plethora of military and security fairs, conferences and seminars With all this their influence goes deeper than just reaping the benefits of existing policies: military and security companies and their representatives have positioned themselves as the experts on migration and as such have continuously pushed a narrative in which migration is framed as primarily a security problem and people on the move as threats to Europe and the 'European way of life'. The success of their lobby is mirrored in the current EU border and migration policies, which are largely based on exactly this narrative. And when something is seen as a security problem, the use of military and security means to deal with it is a logical next step. So, we have seen the deployment of armed forces to borders, the increasing use of military and security equipment at borders, including the rise of autonomous systems such as drones, the expansion of Frontex, including getting its own budget to buy equipment and build a 10,000 person strong armed border force, and the often forced enlistment of non-EU-countries to act as outpost border guards to stop migrants earlier on their journey, the so-called 'border externalisation'. All of these developments present new profit opportunities for the military and security industry. And so does another important development that is connected to these steps: the introduction and expansion of large scale data systems for border control, with all kinds of identification technologies and databases containing fingerprints and all kinds of personal information, and the ongoing process to make them interoperable. This goes accompanied with large contracts issued by Frontex and eu-LISA, the Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems. Together with the rise of new surveillance technologies at the borders, which come together in the EUROSUR system connecting live surveillance pictures of all EU member states and some Northern African countries, and the general concept of 'smart borders' we have dubbed this the 'virtual walls' of Fortress Europe in a series of research reports by Stop Wapenhandel, the Transnational Institute and Centre Delàs. They exist next to to psychical walls at land borders and the 'maritime walls' with Frontex's and other operations in for example the Mediterranean. In this field another lobby organisation is exemplary for the close relation between authorities and industry. The European Association for Biometrics (EAB) brings together members from industry, governments and academia, including government, police and identification services from Denmark, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands and Norway, as well as companies such as Idemia, Sopra Steria and Thales. Some employees from eu-LISA are also members of the EAB. The Head of the Frontex Research and Development Unit, Edgar Beugels and Krum Garkov, executive director of eu-LISA, are members of its Advisory Council. And until 2019 a Senior Research Officer and manager of the Future of Border Checks project at Frontex was on the EAB board. Every year EAB organises a joint research conference with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. Both also are co-organisers of the annual International Conference of the Biometrics Special Interest Group. Looking at the large contracts for EU databases and surveillance systems, it is striking that the same companies repeatedly get follow-up contracts for certain systems. They build on their own technology, work and knowledge and are already experienced in developing, working with and maintaining these systems. This also creates a risk of dependency, however, where these companies acquire a monopoly-like status, and the EU is almost forced to keep working with them even if they overcharge, miss deadlines or fail to observe data-protection regulations. One company that has won almost one billion euros worth of contracts since 2000 for the development and maintenance of EU's biometric databases – EURODAC, SIS II, VIS – and providing digital infrastructure to Frontex and eu-LISA is French IT company Sopra Steria. For many of these contracts Sopra Steria teamed up in consortia with for example HP Belgium, Bull and 3M Belgium. Together with French company Idemia, another large player in the field of biometric identification technologies, in 2020 it got a contract with a value of €302 million for the implementation and maintenance of the Biometrics Part of the Entry Exit System and the Future Shared Biometrics Matching System. Sopra Steria's deep involvement in these systems also has a spin-off effect in securing national contracts. At the launch of SIS II, the company reported that Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Romania, Slovenia and the UK had contracted it to provide an ‘off-the-shelf solution’ to connect their national system with the central system. There are many other large contracts. A contract for implementation and maintenance of the Entry Exit System, worth €142 million, was awarded to a consortium of IBM Belgium, Atos Belgium and Leonardo in 2019. A year later, IBM and Leonardo, together with Unisys, Accenture and Wavestone got another €181 million contract from eu-LISA and Frontex for the design and support of core business systems and interoperability components. Other companies that pop up a lot are Spanish consultancy company Everis and French ID company Gemalto, now a part of arms company Thales. And next to contracts the EU disperses a lot of funding for research and innovation in the field of border security and control, with a focus on development and use of new technologies, under its Framework Programmes, including the current Horizon Europe. Let me finish with short remarks on two important developments: as part of its border externalisation efforts the EU funds many biometric identification projects outside the EU. Remarkable examples are two projects to set up fingerprint databases of the whole population of Mali and Senegal by French company Civipol, a joint venture between the state and several French arms companies. These projects, financed with €25 and €28 million from the EUTF, seek to identify irregular migrants from both countries in Europe to deport them. And second, the Covid-19-pandemic led to a shift in the focus of the biometrics market, mainly from fingerprinting to contactless systems as face recognition technologies. Many of the companies winning contracts for surveilling, monitoring and tracking migrants have also pitched their same technologies for health and policing related to Covid-19. In this sense borders are also an ideal testing ground for new technologies. According to human rights lawyer Petra Molnar and Diego Naranjo (European Digital Rights), refugees and migrants “often become guinea pigs on which to test new surveillance tools before bringing them to the wider population”. In turn, refugees are then bound to be primary targets for their expanded use. In short: the rise of new surveillance and data-collection technologies is an important part of Europe's overall process of border militarisation and externalisation. A process driven by the lobby of the military and security industry, resulting in billions of profits. Meanwhile, the EU's violent and racist border and migration policies violate human rights of people and the move and result in more deaths and inhumane unsafe futures for many. An untenable course, which is bound to implode some time in the future.     lees meer »

Brexit leidt tot militarisering Calais en Kanaal tegen migratie

27 januari 2021 - Het afgelopen jaar, in de aanloop naar de Brexit, heeft het Verenigd Koninkrijk grensbewaking op het Kanaal verder gemilitariseerd, zo blijkt uit het nieuwe rapport 'Rejection and Risk: The Effects of Brexit on Refugees in Calais' van Care4Calais en Stop Wapenhandel. Er worden militaire vliegtuigen en drones ingezet voor surveillance om vluchtelingenbootjes vanuit Calais te stoppen, de hulp van de Royal Navy werd ingeroepen om anti-migratie-operaties te plannen en een voormalig marinier werd benoemd tot 'Clandestine Channel Threat Commander'. lees meer »

Securitisation of migration, militarisation of borders and industry influence

[Introduction during online workshop 'Security and the Left in Europe' of the Rosa Luxemburg Stifting Brussels, 21 November 2020]   During the last decades we’ve seen an increase in border security and control measures in the EU, including the gradual militarisation of borders: the use of military personnel and equipment to stop migration. This goes back a long time, but the introduction of the Schengen Agreement and the Schengen Area in the second half of the eighties and early nineties of last century was a defining point. This coupled the opening up of the internal EU borders with robust control at the external borders. Subsequent events, such as the war in former Yugoslavia, but especially the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 and ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015, have fueled politicized fears of waves of refugees coming to Europe and, in turn, have accelarated the process of border militarisation. EU border and migration policies are aimed primarily at keeping or getting migrants out of the territory.   Underpinning these policies is a narrative framing migration as a security problem, refugees and migrants as threats to Europe. Migrants are commonly painted in terms of crime, terrorism, stealing jobs and houses, perceived unwanted religious and cultural practices and ideas and other xenophobic and racist caricatures, making them the scapegoats to blame for and deflect from the disastrous effects of capitalism within Europe. This framing does not come out of the blue, it is fueled by rightwing politicians and organisations, and by the military and security industry, as I will come back to later.   In general, securitisation can be described as framing societal problems, for example with a political or humanitarian origin, in terms of threats, dangers and risks. Migration is one example of this, but it has also been applied to a range of other issues, including climate change and pandemics. In response to these perceived threats, governments look to military and security equipment, personnel and services to deal with them. Of course, this is sold as working for the safety of Europe as a whole, but it comes down to securing the interests of the rich against and at the expense of the rest of the world.   What has become clear, especially during the last five years, is that Europe is firmly entrenched in this security narrative and the militarisation of borders as a result of it. This is backed up by alarmist language and military style rhetoric. In policy documents you can read about the ‘fighting’ or ‘combating’ irregular migration’ and about displaced people as a ‘threat to peace and security’. And their is an absolute tunnel vision going on: the only ‘solution’ for migration that is presented again and again is more border security, more border control, more walls and fences, more cooperation with third countries to stop migration, more deportations and so on.   There has been talk about addressing the root causes of migration, for example through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, but most of the money spend under that instrument also is aimed at stopping migration, with some halfhearted attempts at humanitarian support and job creation in countries of origin on the side. What is never spoken about though, are the real reasons people are forced to flee, let alone the role the EU and other western countries play in fueling those reasons. So, no words or actions to address unfair trade relations, about arms exports, military interventions and support to authoritarian regimes, about western responsibility for climate change or about land grabbing.   No, some of these reasons people are forced to flee are actually reinforced by EU border politics. Through a process of so-called border externalisation the EU has exported its policies, and the underlying security narrative, to neighbouring countries. They are blackmailed and bribed, by promising for example better trade agreements or threatening to withold development cooperation money, into acting as outpost border guards for the EU, trying to stop refugees from even reaching the European borders, so that the EU doesn’t have to deal with asylum applications and so on. Part of this externalisation consists of strengthening security infrastructures in third countries, of which many are ruled by authoritarian regimes with a large role for police and security and armed forces in repression and human rights violations. Countries like Turkey, Egypt, Libya and Morocco, but also further south for example Mali, Sudan and Niger, and to the east Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaidzjan have received European money, training, arms, biometric identification tools and security equipment to increase border security. But these same donations can be, and are, also used for internal repression. Moreover, externalisation efforts put third countries under pressure to spend their own money on border security, taking away from much needed social and sustainability spending, and have ruined migration based economies, such as in the Agadez region in Niger, already one of the poorest countries in the world.   These externalisation efforts come in many shapes and forms, to many to sum up now. But did you know, for example, that the EU paid French company Civipol over €50 million to set up fingerprint databases of the complete populations of Senegal and Mali, mainly to be able to identify and immediately deport refugees from those countries at the EU borders? Civipol is owned jointly by large French arms companies and the French government.   Going back to the EU itself and its own external borders, there has been an enormous increase in border security measures and spending. To name a few things: the construction over 1000 kilometres of walls and fences at EU borders, deploying armed forces at borders, the introduction of and connecting of biometric databases, the increasing use of drones and other autonomous systems at borders, the plans to externalize asylum applications, the launch of EUROSUR, a system which connects surveillance systems of all member states to present a continuous live picture of the situation at the borders and so on. The result of all this, as has been predicted over and over again by experts from NGOs, humanitarian organisations and academic researchers, has not been and end to migration, because desperate people keep on looking for safer and better futures, but foremost refugees being left in dire circumstances in transit countries or at the borders of Europe, such as in the camps on the Greek islands, or being pushed to more dangerous migration routes and into the arms of criminal smuggling networks. In turn, this has resulted in more deaths in the Sahara and a higher mortality rate among migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean.   There is also the expansion of Frontex into a European Border and Coast Guard, with more powers, including giving binding advice on strengthening border security to EU member states and the possibility of interventions in member states, even without their consent, as well as the possibility of operating in third countries, for which agreements have been or are about to be concluded with Albania, Montenegro and Serbia. Frontex will also play a stronger coordinating role in deportations and gets money to buy or lease its own equipment. For this some €2 billion has been earmarked under the new Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU budget for the next seven years. Just yesterday Frontex announced it will pay Airbus, Israeli Aerospace Industries and Elbit a total of €100 million for supplying drones surveillance services in the Mediterannean.   In total Frontex gets over €5 billion funding for these years, about double the amount it got in the last seven. Similarly, the Integrated Border Management Fund, which distributes money to member states for strengthening border security, with over €5.5 billion also has about double the amount its predecessor, the Internal Security Fund-Borders, had at its disposal. On top of this comes funding for third countries, for candidate and new member states, for detention and deportation measures, for research and development of new technologies and more, to a total of some €22.6 billion euros for the period 2021-2027.   These policies, measures and fundings don’t come out of the blue. One of the main drivers has been extensibe lobbying by the military and security industry. The big players in these efforts are large arms and security companies, such as Airbus, Indra, Leonardo and Thales, as well as lobby organisations such as the European Organisation for Security, the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe and the European Association for Biometrics. They have their own lobbyists in Brussels, have regular meetings with the European Commission, are presented in official advisory groups and bodies, meet policy makers and the military at arms and security fairs and conferences, organise roundtables with Commissioners, present their equipment and services at Frontex meetings and so on. Within this cycle of contacts they have been able to present themselves as the experts on issues like migration and border politics, pushing the security narrative as discussed and promote their own goods and services as the solution to deal with the perceived threat of migration.   It’s always difficult to get a good view of often quite secretive lobby efforts, but it is clear that industry proposals have been influential, to the extent of the European Commission sometimes almost literally copying them. We saw this for example with the expansion of Frontex into a European Border Guard, which has long been suggested by industry, and opening the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, which was originally meant for conflict prevention and peace-building efforts, to fund the supply of non-lethal security equipment to non-EU-countries. This instrument was already used to pay for new vessels to strengthen the border patrol capacities of the Turkish Coast Guard.   In their lobbying such companies and lobby organisations aren’t afraid of using racist stereotypes to feed their security narrative. In a 2003 Civipol bluntly stated in an advisory report that “the minority of genuine refugees conceals “mass of economic migrants’ and that ‘clandestinely working […] [u] ndocumented people create a state in which employment law does not apply […], threatening industrial peace.” And earlier this year, the European Organisation for Security wrote in a briefing regarding COVID-19 that “[t]he EU will need to manage its external borders to prevent the uncontrolled entry of people infected by transmissible pathogens”. By the way, in the first weeks of April European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, immediately had two online meetings with large arms companies to discuss the consequences of the pandemic for them and possible ways to support them. Before becoming Commissioner, Breton was CEO of Atos, a large consultancy and IT company, which has many clients from the military and security industry.   There is a lot more to say about all this, but I’ll leave it at this now. Many more information, analysis and backgrounds can be found in the series of ‘Border Wars’-reports that the Transnational Institute published together with us at Stop Wapenhandel and others. lees meer »

Border security, military industry and EU militarisation

[Presentation at the seminar on Euromilitarism, Oorlog is geen Oplossing / VD AMOK / Network No to War - No to NATO, Amsterdam, 14 April 2019]   Last Wednesday the action group 'Stop the War on Migrants' held an unnannounced noise demonstration at the headquarters of European arms giant Airbus in the Dutch city of Leiden. The action, at the day of the annual shareholders meeting of Airbus here in Amsterdam, was in protest of both the arms exports of Airbus to countries in conflict and dictatorships, such as Saudi-Arabia and Egypt, and the role of the company in the militarisation and externalisation of the European borders.   The largest profiteers of EU border security spending have been large European military, security and technology companies: next to Airbus these are foremost Italian Leonardo, French Thales and Spanish Indra. Leonardo, Thales and Airbus are also three of the top four European arms traders, all selling to countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Apart from profiting from both sides of the refugee tragedy, by fueling the reasons people are forced to flee through arms exports and by then providing the equipment to stop them from crossing borders, Airbus and other large European military and security companies have been very influential in shaping EU border policies.   The most important result of this is at the core of the policies: by framing migration as a security threat, it has set the course for introducing the use of military means and personnel as the way forward to deal with it. This securitarization of migration forms the base of current EU migration policies, which rest on four pillars: - boosting and militarising border security; - the development of 'smart borders', with the use of biometrics; - detention and deportation; - externalisation; Another important aspect, accompanying these pillars is the increasing criminalisation of refugee support work and the obstruction of NGO search and rescue activities, particularly in the Mediterranean. In this talk I will focus on militarisation and externalisation.   The foundations of these policies were laid with the signing of the Schengen Agreement in 1985, whuch coupled the opening of internal borders within the EU with robust controls at the external borders. Since then European border security has been gradually expanded, escalating into what I would call a 'war on immigration', since 2011, when the Arab Spring gave rise to fears of increased migration to Europe, and especially since the start of the so-called 'refugee crisis' in 2015. While border security in principle is still a responsibility of the member states, the role of the EU and its institutions has been growing. The EU border security agency Frontex, established in 2004, is the prime actor in this. Frontex' main task is the coordination of border security efforts of the EU member states. However, it also runs its own joint operations, most of them in the Mediterranean, to stop migration. For this it depends completely on equipment and personnel made availabe by member states, which notoriously didn't live up to their promises. In recent years Frontex has been expanded into a European Border and Coast Guard, with new tasks and competences: - Frontex will get a standing corps of 10,000 border guards, ready to be employed in 'crisis' situations; - Frontex will be able to equipment on its own or in co-ownership with a member state. For this €2.2 billion is reserved in its budget for 2021-2027. - The new Frontex has a stronger supervisory role in assessing the border security capacities of member states, including giving binding advice to take measures to strengthen these and the possibility of direct interventions in a member state, even without its consent, by decision of the Council of the EU. - And Frontex will be able to cooperate with third countries, including the possibility of armed Frontex operations on the territory of these countries. The first agreements about this have been or are about te be concluded with Serbia and Macedonia. This all goes together with a sharp budget increase. In 2027 Frontex is expected to have an annual budget of €1.87 billion euros, over 300 times as much as the 6 million it started with in 2005.   Frontex is also the coordinator of EUROSUR, the darling child of the EU border authorities. It can best be described as “a system of systems”. It connects surveillance data from all EU member states, and beyond the external borders, to paint a real-time picture of the situation at the borders. Launched in December 2013, the European Commission has stated that Eurosur is “a process which will never stop”. It will keep on being expanded, thereby giving the industry a promise of ever ongoing demand for new 'improved' equipment. Eurosur also shows that the militarisation of border security is not only about the use of traditional military means, such as helicopters and ships, but also, equally as important, about data gathering and exchange.   The rapid expansion of Frontex isn't the only sign of the militarisation of European borders and beyond. Another notable part of this is Operation Sophia, the EU's first outright military operation to stop migration. It consists of navy and air presence before the coast of Libya, due to be reduced to only air presence in the near future after recent disagreements between Italy and others about where refugees picked up by ships in the operation should be taken. Another aspect is the cooperation with and training of the Libyan Coast Guard. An interesting aspect of Operation Sophia is the involvement of NATO. Its Operation Sea Guardian assisted Sophia with logistical support and the deployment of ships and aircraft. Earlier NATO also assisted the Frontex' Operation Poseidon in the Aegaen Sea. To get a sense of how NATO sees refugees: Philip Breedlove, then supreme commander of the NATO forces in Europe, said around that time that “[t]ogether Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponising migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve. In general this increasing role of NATO, a military alliance with no humanitarian mandate, is exemplary for the militarization of European border security. It also raises questions about accountability, since NATO falls outside EU parliamentary control and complaint mechanisms.   As said, many border security measures are still taken by EU countries themselves. This includes things as sending the military to borders, the construction of border walls and fences and the increasing use of autonomous systems like drones. The EU heavily funds the build up of border security by member states. This has largely gone through three funding mechanism: the Schengen Facility, the External Borders Fund and the Internal Security Fund – Borders. The Schengen Facility was a temporary instrument to fund border security measures in new EU member states, to make them comply with Schengen requirements. The External Borders Fund ran from 2007 to 2013 and was aimed at working towards a common integrated border management system. A lot of it was used for national components of the EUROSUR system. And now most funding is done via the Internal Security Fund – Borders, with an emphasis on achieving a uniform control of the external EU borders and information sharing between member states and Frontex. Through these three funding mechanisms some €4.5 billion have been and will be dispersed to EU member states, from 2004 up to next year. Funding has gone to a wide array of activities and purchases, including vessels, vehicles, helicopters, IT systems and surveillance equipment. In the next EU budget cycle, which runs from 2021 to 2027, the new Integrated Border Management Fund will take over from the Internal Security Fund. Recently the European Parliament approved the establishment of this fund, with a budget of €7.1 billion euros. Talking about money, it is hard to put figures to total EU spending on border security and border control. The British thinktank Overseas Development Institute (ODI) made a “conservative estimate […] that at the very least, €1.7 billion was committed to measures inside Europe from 2014 to 2016 in an effort to reduce [migration] flows”, adding that this “presents only a partial picture of the true cost.” Furthermore “in an attempt to deter refugees from setting off on their journeys”, “since December 2014 €15.3 billion has been spent” in third countries. Again, “a very conservative estimate.”   It may seem remarkable that more money goes to third countries, but this will only escalate in the future. While disagreements about migration policies within the EU are getting stronger, for example about the 'distribution' of refugees between member states, and consensus about strengthening the security at the external borders is sometimes undermined by member states' reluctance to provide money, personnel and equipment to put this into practice, there is a strong agreement about cooperation with non-EU-countries to stop refugees earlier on their way towards Europe. This so-called border externalisation. If these refugees don't reach European territory the EU or individual member states don't have to deal with them, they don't have to respect their rights, for example the right to ask for asylum, the don't have to worry about non-refoulement principles and so on. For this the EU forces third countries, notably in Africa, to act as outpost border guards through a carrot and stick-approach. If they cooperate, they can get trade benefits for example; if they don't cooperate, for example development aid is cut back. Though not new, there has been a growth in border externalisation measures and agreements since 2005 and a massive acceleration since the November 2015 Valletta Europe – Africa Summit. Using a plethora of new instruments, in particular the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the Migration Partnership Framework and the Refugee Facility for Turkey, the European Union and individual member states are now providing millions of euros for an array of projects. This includes collaboration with third countries in terms of accepting deported persons, training of their police and border officials, the development of extensive biometric systems, and donations of equipment including helicopters, patrol ships and vehicles, surveillance and monitoring equipment. While many projects are done through the European Commission, a number of individual member states, such as Spain, Italy and Germany also take a lead in funding and supporting border externalisation efforts through bilateral agreements with non-EU-countries. What makes this collaboration particularly problematic is that many of the governments receiving the support are deeply authoritarian, and the support they are receiving often goes to precisely the state security organs most responsible for repression and abuses of human rights. There seems to be no limits to the EU’s willingness to embrace dictatorial regimes as long as they commit to preventing ‘irregular migration’ reaching Europe’s shores. As a result there have been EU agreements with and funding provided to regimes as infamous as Chad, Niger, Belarus, Libya and Sudan. Part of this externalisation, that is not that widely recognized, is the increasing military presence of EU and member states in third countries, such as Niger, Libya, Tunisia and Mali. For the EU missions in Niger and Mali, stopping migration has been added as a goal. In Niger, for example, next to this EUCAP Sahel mission there are Italian, French and German troops present to assist in border security, while Germany has donated vehicles and communications equipment and Germany and the Netherlands funded the establishment of a new special border force to stop migration. Regarding the EU and member states' military presence in those countries I think you can ask yourself if border security is the only and real reason. Aren't other goals playing a role as well, both stated, such as combatting terrorism, and unstated, such as access to commodities, like uranium in Niger?   The complete policy set of militarisation and externalisation of the European borders has devastating consequences. Foremost for refugees, who are forced to look for other, often more dangerous, migration routes, are confronted with ever more violence and/or get stuck in dire circumstances, whether in refugee camps in- our outside Europe or living in illegality. But especially the consequences of externalisation reach much further, from strengthening dictatorships and repression to undermining political and economic stability in the countries concerned as well as diverting and abusing development cooperation money. I think you can really say that this is a case of unashamed neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism which will highly probably end up in more refugees in the future, thereby even harming the stated interests of the EU itself.   As said, the European military and security industry is reaping the profits from all of this. Moreover, this industry helps shape European border security policy through lobbying, through its regular interactions with the European Commission and EU’s border institutions and through its shaping of research policy. The European Organisation for Security (EOS), which includes Thales, Leonardo and Airbus has been most active in lobbying for increased border security. Many of its proposals, such as its push to set up a cross European border security agency have eventually ended up as policy, see the expansion of Frontex.   This is exemplary for the influence of the military and security industry in formulating the foreign and security policy agenda of the EU in general. They shape the direction of policy, by regular meetings with EU and member states' officials and politicians, by writing papers with recommendations, by consequently presenting their equipment and technology as the answer to problems, be they real existing ones or not, by establishing themselves as experts that governments should listen to. Representatives of large arms and security companies commonly participate in official advisory groups for EU policy. And the EU recognizes them as important players in the shaping of policies. Even more, it embraces them, by listening to them, by giving thim influential positions, by having high cadre representatives take part in their meetings and so on. Apart from border security some clear examples of this influential lobby include: Funding for first security and now also outright military research; The military and security industry was very influential in shaping EU R&T policies for security and military research. Representatives of large military and security companies have been a large part of all official advisory bodies on R&T funding. The establishment of the European Defence Fund. This is not completely finalized, next Thursday there will be a crucial vote in EP, but it will be in a short term. Through the fund the EU provides 13 billion euros from 2021-2027 for the development of new arms. A pilot programme, with a budget of 590 million euros, is already up and running. The regulation for this fund states that “[t]he general objective [...] is to foster the competitiveness, efficiency and innovation capacity of the European defence industry”. In other words: more arms exports to countries outside the EU. Opening up funding instruments for foreign and development policy to military use. This includes the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, which was originally meant for conflict prevention and peace building, and the new European Peace Facility, an off-budget fund to finance EU military missions and the build-up of military and security infrastructure in development countries.   There is much more to say about all this, on the websites of Stop Wapenhandel and the Transnational Institute you can find a series of reports and articles on European border militarisation and externalisation, the role of the military and security industry, involvement of NATO, and the connection with other issues, such as climate change. To conclude: European border security policies have devastating consequences for refugees and for the world outside Europe, they are untenable and only fuel bigger problems in the future. Yet, for the military and security industry they represent a growing market and for the EU they act as a catalyst for militarisation and increasing military presence outside Europe.       lees meer »

Climate change, energy security, conflict and migration: who profits?

[Talk in workshop at Code Rood action camp in Leermens, Saturday 25 August 2016]   In his recent book 'Storming the wall' American journalist Todd Miller paints a grim picture of the future, writing: “We could predict not only […] a world of Category 6 winds, ravaging fires, devouring seas, and parched landscapes, but also a world of surveillance drones, crowd-control, and walls.” lees meer »

Militaire industrie profiteert van vluchtelingentragedie

    [Click for English version]   Bedrijven uit de militaire en security industrie profiteren fors van toenemende militarisering van grensbewaking, zo blijkt uit onderzoek van Stop Wapenhandel, in samenwerking met het Transnational Institute (TNI).   Dezelfde industrie voedt bovendien de oorzaken die mensen dwingen te vluchten, door het blijven leveren van wapens aan de door geweld en chaos getekende regio's Midden-Oosten en (Noord-)Afrika. Landen in oorlog, met gewapende interne conflicten, mensenrechtenschenders en autoritaire en repressieve regimes staan allemaal op de lijst afnemers van Europese wapens.   Onderzoek toont ook aan hoe de lobby van de militaire en security-industrie helpt het Europees grensbeveiligingsbeleid vorm te geven, door innige samenwerking met EU-instituties en het uitoefenen van invloed op het onderzoeksbeleid. Dit draagt bij aan een beleid waarin migratie vooral als een veiligheidsprobleem wordt gezien, dat bestreden dient te worden met toenemende inzet van militairen en militaire middelen.   In een reeks rapporten, blogs en artikelen zet Stop Wapenhandel het EU-beleid en de gevolgen ervan op een rijtje. Ook wordt de rol van de militaire en security industrie gedocumenteerd, en worden de belangrijkste bedrijven geïdentificeerd.   Stop Wapenhandel heeft zich aangesloten bij de internationale campagnes 'Abolish Frontex' en 'World Without Walls - Europe'.     Overzicht van publicaties:   Rapporten Oursourcing Oppression: How Europe externalises migrant detention beyond its shores - april 2021 Nieuwsbericht: Outsourcing Oppression: hoe Europa vluchtelingendetentie externaliseert Rapport in Spaans: Externalizar la opresión:  Cómo Europa externaliza la detención de migrantes fuera de sus fronteras   Financing Border Wars: The border industry, its financiers and human rights - april 2021 Nieuwsbericht: Grenzenindustrie, financiers en mensenrechten   Het uitbesteden van dodelijk grensbeleid: Hoe Nederland grensbewaking in landen rondom Europa opvoert - maart 2021 Persbericht: Nederland besteedt grensbewaking uit aan landen rondom Europa   Rejection and Risk: The Effect of Brexit on Refugees in Calais - januari 2021 Nieuwsbericht: Brexit leidt tot militarisering Calais en Kanaal tegen migratie Persbericht Care4Calais: Rejection and Risk   A Walled World, towards a Global Apartheid - november 2020 Samenvatting: Nederlands - Engels - Spaans Persbericht: 60% wereldbevolking leeft in land met grensmuren, militaire industrie profiteert   COVID-19 and Border Politics - juli 2020 Briefing in Spaans: COVID-19 y políticas fronterizas   Hunted. Detained. Deported: UK-French co-operation and the effects of border securitisation on refugees in Calais - februari 2020 Persbericht: UK-French border cooperation at Calais increases violence against and risks for refugees   The Business of Building Walls - november 2019 Persbericht: 30 jaar na de val van de Muur: Europa investeert miljarden in nieuwe muren Samenvatting: Engels - Spaans - Frans   Expanding the Fortress: The policies, the profiteers and the people shaped by EU’s  border externalisation programme - mei 2018 Persbericht: Militaire en veiligheidsindustrie profiteert van anti-migratiedeals met autoritaire regimes    NATO and EU border security in the Mediterranean - mei 2017 Border Wars II: an update on the arms industry profiting from Europe's refugee tragedy - december 2016 Persbericht: Meer militarisering EU-grenzen in 2016, wapenindustrie profiteert van vluchtelingentragedie Oorlog aan de Grenzen: hoe wapenhandelaren profiteren van de Europese vluchtelingentragedie - september 2016 (Nederlandse versie 'Border Wars', met aanvullend onderzoek naar Nederlands beleid en Nederlandse bedrijven) Persbericht: Militaire industrie profiteert van vluchtelingentragedie Border Wars: the arms dealers profiting from Europe's refugee tragedy - juli 2016 - Persbericht Samenvatting: Nederlands - Duits - Frans - Italiaans - Spaans Rapport in Spaans: Guerras de Frontera    In co-publicatie met Centre Delàs en Transnational Institute (TNI):   Guarding the Fortress: The role of Frontex in the militarisation and securitisation of migratory flows in the European Union - november 2019 Persbericht - Executive Summary   Building Walls: Fear and securitization in the European Union - november 2018 Persbericht - Samenvatting Blogs   Frontex awards €84.5 million in aerial surveillance contracts - augustus 2021   Frontex Scrutiny Working Group leaves Frontex off the hook - juli 2021   European Parliament votes on Integrated Border Management Fund - juli 2021   Frontex awards €50 million in border surveillance drone contracts to Airbus, IAI and Elbit - oktober 2020 Des drones israéliens pour surveiller les frontières européennes - Charleroi pour la Palestine - november 2020 Frontex hires notorious Israeli drones for border security trials - maart 2018 Frontex loue les fameux drones israéliens pour des essais de sécurité aux frontières​ - Pour la Palestine - maart 2018 EU and military and security industry meet on future of EUROSUR - februari 2018 Arms industry fuels and profits from refugee tragedy - september 2015 Horizon 2020: more money for building Fortress Europe - januari 2014 Algeria, Morocco naval built-up supports EU anti-immigration policies (and the Dutch arms industry) - november 2013 Selling border militarization as a humanitarian effort - oktober 2013 Military industry profits from governments' violations of rights of refugees - juli 2013 Frontex eyes drones to further war on immigration - maart 2012 Frontex – new customer for the arms industry - september 2011 Speeches en presentaties   The border-industrial complex: lobbying for and profiting from increased border security and control - juli 2021   European arms exports, militarisation and borders - april 2021   Securitisation of migration, militarisation of borders and industry influence - oktober 2020   Militarisering van grenzen: kassa voor de wapenindustrie - juli 2019   Border security, military industry and EU militarisation - april 2019   Climate change, conflict and migration - september 2018   Climate change, energy security, conflict and migration: who profits? - augustus 2018 Podcast of the complete panel discussion at Code Rood action camp   Vluchtelingen verdrinken, wapenindustrie profiteert - juli 2018 EU en Libië: wapenhandel en externalisering grensbewaking - december 2017 How halting African refugees before they reach the EU benefits European military industries - december 2017 EU border security, cooperation with Asia, and military industry profiting - april 2017 Wapenhandel, EU-grensbewaking en Soedan - April 2017 Artikelen   Europees Parlement faalt in onderzoek naar mensenrechtenschendingen Frontex - Joop - juli 2021   It is time to end pushbacks and to abolish Frontex - ROAR Magazine - juni 2021   How the arms industry drives Fortress Europe's expansion - Crisis Magazine - juni 2020 La industria armamentística fomenta que Europa se consolide como fortaleza - Rebelión - juli 2020 ​​Borders and the arms trade - CAAT News - februari 2020 The deadly profits from EU border walls - Debating Development Research - november 2019   Europese grensmuren zijn goudmijn voor militaire en security-industrie - Sargasso - november 2019 Europese grensmuren zijn een goudmijn voor de militaire- en security-industrie - Vrede.be - januari 2020   Europe's multi-billion border budget is a bonanza for the security industry - openDemocracy - november 2019 Europa's grensbudget is een bonanza voor de veiligheidsindustrie - Vrede.be - november 2019   Rode Kruis, beëindig samenwerking met wapengigant Airbus - ism Stop the War on Migrants - Joop.nl - juni 2019   Terugblik op 5 jaar Europees beleid: Grens- en migratiepolitiek - ism Vredesactie - mei 2019   De doden aan de grenzen van Europa zijn geen ongeluk - Mo* Mondiaal Nieuws - april 2019   Will Europe use Israeli drones against refugees? - Electronic Intifada - oktober 2018 L’Europe utilisera-t-elle les drones israéliens contre les réfugiés? - Agence Media Palestine - oktober 2018   The rise of border imperialism - ROAR Magazine - september 2018 L’aumento dell’imperialismo dei confini - Z Net Italy - september 2018 África: el ascenso del imperialismo de las fronteras - El Salto - november 2018   Migratiesamenwerking met autoritaire regimes is onhoudbaar - Joop.nl - september 2018   How the security industry reaps the rewards of E.U. migration control - RefugeesDeeply - juni 2018   Military and security companies profit from European policies exporting border control overseas - openDemocracy - mei 2018   Europe's solution to migration is to outsource it to Africa - EUobserver - mei 2018 Europa besteedt zijn migratieprobleem uit aan Afrika - Ander Europa / Global Info - mei 2018 Soluţia Europei pentru migraţie este delocalizarea în Africa - NotaBN - mei 2018   Regeerakkoord: militaire investeringen en migratiebestrijding - Vredesspiraal - december 2017   Wapenindustrie verdient dubbel aan vluchtelingentragedie - Vredesmagazine - voorjaar 2017 De dodelijke gevolgen van de militarisering van de Europese grenzen - Joop.nl -december 2016 The deadly consequences of Europe’s border militarization - openDemocracy - december 2016 Migration - follow the money - openDemocracy - juli 2016 NAVO helpt Fort Europa - Vredesmagazine - juni 2016 Vluchtelingen als doelwit - Vredesspiraal - december 2015 Europese wapens voeden oorlog en vluchtelingentragedie - Procesnieuws - november 2015 Waarom het EU-plan tegen mensensmokkel niet werkt - Vredesmagazine - juni 2015 Drones aan de grenzen - Vredesmagazine - april 2014 Militarisering van grensbewaking is geen humanitaire hulp - Vredesmagazine - januari 2014 Kriget mot invandringen (Militarising border security) - Etc - april 2012 Frontex: Nederlandse militaire bijdrage aan humanitaire tragedie - Vredesmagazine - september 2008  ​Podcast Wapens en Veiligheid, Podcast 1 - Dubbel verdienen: wapenexport en grensbewaking. Een gesprek met Linda Polman, auteur van “Niemand wil ze hebben” over vluchtelingenbeleid sinds 1938. Bijdragen aan boeken Security and the Left in Europe: Towards a New Left Concept of Security - juni 2021 The Military and Security Industy: Promoting Europe's Refugee Regime - november 2020 Militarisation of the European Union: fresh money for the military industry (met Laetitia Sedou en Bram Vranken) - november 2020 The policies and industry behind the European walls - november 2019 Militarization of European Border Security - november 2017             lees meer »

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