The EU’s current border regime is a profitable business for the European companies cashing in on the militarisation of EU migration policy, according to a study commissioned by The Left in the European Parliament.
The study is by Jacqueline Andres, of the “Information Centre on Militarization” and MEPs Özlem Demirel and Clare Daly. Major defence companies such as Airbus, Thales, Leonardo and Indra are highlighted in the study as central actors in border militarisation. These companies have strategically lobbied for the expansion of the defence industry and have been among the main beneficiaries of numerous EU research projects involving large-scale surveillance through sensor networks and satellite-based communication infrastructure.
Large consulting firms, such as Deloitte, act as the driving forces behind the digitalisation of borders with the scale of IT companies involvement in militarisation also immense. For instance, Atos has benefited extensively from EU research programmes aimed at large-scale surveillance and automated big data analysis. Atos offers packages for the monitoring of land, air and sea borders and states its involvement in the monitoring of over 2,000 kilometres of
Unmanned aerial vehicles manufacturers are also key players in European border protection, according to the research. In addition to major defence companies, recent years have seen the emergence of new players which have, at the very least, benefitted from the recent enhancement of border control, , if not owing their very existence to it. One example is TEKEVER, a Portuguese company which takes part in several EU research projects (including ROBORDER) and is a contractor of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which cooperates closely with Frontex.
“Since 1993, more than 40,000 people have died trying to cross the EU border regime in the hope of finding a better future in Europe. While there are already some studies and publications on the tragic and deadly consequences of the ‘Fortress Europe’, less is known about its profiteers,” says Left MEP Özlem Demirel. “Sensors, thermal imaging cameras, drones, satellites, border fences – an entire industry has grown up around this project. Armament companies such as Rheinmetall and Airbus are using it to open up new business markets, lobbyists in Warsaw and Brussels are praising their latest inventions for a ‘more efficient defence against refugees’. This study shows which industries benefit from the suffering of refugees. It is time to delegitimise the security industry as a solution provider for problems defined and created by it, and to instead implement solutions to the health, climate and hunger crises which endanger the lives of millions of people.”
Left MEP Clare Daly added: “This study is a timely and important confirmation of the role played by the security and defence industry in the militarisation and securitisation of EU borders. What we have is not just a problem of political inaction or indifference on the part of the EU and the Member States. Fortress Europe is a profitable enterprise, and its cost in human lives will continue to rise until this circuit is broken.”