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January 30, 2014
January 30, 2014

European migration control in the hands of lobbies

Source: Antigonia  Category: Borders
This article is also available in: elesfrpt-pt
European migration control in the hands of lobbies

Antonio Tajani: European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship | Cecilia Malmström: European Commissioner for Home Affairs | Lorenzo Mariani: Managing Director of Selex | Luigi Rebuffi: Director of the EOS

The European Agency for the Management of the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (EU), known as Frontex, became operational on May 1, 2005. The formation of the Agency was proposed a year earlier by the European Council with the main purpose of improving the management of the external borders of the EU member states and promoting operational coordination between them. Frontex assists states in training their border guards, follows the developments in research relevant to the control and surveillance of external borders and coordinates joint deportation flights.

In recent years. the agency has gained greater autonomy and has expanded its decision-making capacity with regards to border control operations. The initial budget of the agency was 6,000,000 €, while in 2013 it received over 90,000,000 € to finance its activities. Its autonomy allows decision-making capacity regarding the development of research, projects and operations. These operations are funded directly by public funds from the EU and it is the agency who chooses suppliers and recommends to the E C and the member states the appropriate companies for the development of control strategies. Thus, Frontex functions as a link between member states and private security companies.

The Executive Director of Frontex, Ilkka Laitinen, a former Finnish border guard, is also a member of the advisory board of the Security Defense Agenda (SDA), a powerful lobby providing security services such as Eads, Thales or the Spanish Indra. At the same time, these same companies are part of the European Organisation for Security (EOS), a lobby consisting of more than 30 companies, whose presidency was recently taken over by Santiago Roura, CEO of Indra.

The SDA and EOS organised a meeting in Brussels in 2011. Members of the European Commission, Frontex and the corporate security sector attended the meeting as speakers. During the forum the following question arose: can a renewed public–private partnership help to improve the security of the European Union?

HIGH SECURITY

The EOS lobby in Brussels in 2012 organised a round table on high security. The main objective of the meeting was to discuss how a European industrial security policy could support, with guaranteed success, the implementation of the Internal Security Strategy for the EU and increase the competitiveness of the European security industry. According to EOS the success of the event not only “demonstrates the willingness of the European Commission and the European Parliament to collaborate with the private sector for the implementation of the EU policy towards a safer society, but also to support the development of a stronger European industry based on technology leadership and job creation to drive economic growth.”

Among the featured guests were the European Commissioner for Industry, the Italian Antonio Tajani and the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, the Swede Cecilia Malmström, as head of the migration policies of the EU. Malmström criticised the effectiveness of the sharp barbed wire on the Melilla border fence in 2013, but said it “fully respects European law.”

The event was attended by the current Frontex Director of Capacity Building, Erik Berglund, author of the report “Identified Needs” by Frontex. The report, published in 2008 on the website of the European Commission, argues that the borders must remain open for trade and the movement of people and closed to criminal activities, including the so-called “illegal immigration.” The report also briefly explains the Eurosur program.

PROGRAMS OF FRONTEX

During the meeting in 2012 the Eurosur programme was extensively discussed, having been presented by the EU on October 22, 2013 as a public response to the massive wreck occurred in Lampedusa 19 days earlier. The announcement of this new program produced headlines like “Eurosur is effective to prevent tragedies like Lampedusa” or “Eurosur: new tools to save the lives of migrants.” The Eurosur programme is the new comprehensive European External Borders Surveillance System. It consists of a monitoring and information exchange system designed to allow network members (Frontex and member states) the sharing in real-time of border-related data through their national coordination centres. One of the fundamental objectives of Eurosur is to prevent the entry of migrants and refugees to the EU through a process of externalisation of borders. This process funds collaborative projects such as the Spanish Africa Plan through which the EU has set up surveillance systems on the coasts of Mauritania and Senegal and has established a network of Centres for Foreigners (CIE) in North African countries.

The roundtable on high security also included the participation of Antonio González Gorostiza, member of EOS and director of protection of critical infrastructure of the company Indra. González Gorostiza was the coordinator of the Perseus project, formed by Frontex and multinationals companies such as Indra and Eads. The Perseus programme, currently in its demonstration phase, is a surveillance system and pre-frontier intervention of the Mediterranean area through a network of high-tech systems. Between 2007 and 2013 the Perseus program had a budget of 43,000,000 € for the development phase. This funding came from FP7: Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development of the EU. The FP7 is an R&D initiative that is advertised as an investment in human development. Grants are awarded following a “call for proposals and expert assessment” and the budget allocated by the European Commission comes from public funds. Through FP7, the EU finances research projects that end up becoming control systems and favours large companies which are responsible for further R&D.

The FP7 has funded, among others, the integrated monitoring and border interoperability project Seabilla developed by Selex, Eads, Thales TTI Norte and Indra, with a budget of 15,000,000 €; Talos, developed by TTI North and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), with a budget of 3,900,000 € and Operamar developed by Thales. Indra and Selex, with a budget of 669,000 €. Some of these projects are included, as a point of reference, in the working document of the European Commission, published in January 2011, determining the technical and operational structure of the Eurosur project and the adoption of measures so as to make it work. This document references to Perseus, Talos and Operamar affirming that “these projects have begun to give results which will be considered during the development of Eurosur. Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz showed the arrest of a boat as part of the first test results of the Perseus project during a public presentation in Madrid on September 24, 2013.

During the forum organised by EOS, González Gorostiza publicly acknowledged the intention of the European Commission to complete the research phase of Perseus, Talos and Operamar and to move on to the implementation phase. In late 2013, Thales, Amper, Eads and the Spanish companies Indra and GMW signed contracts with various ministries of EU countries for the development of the Eurosur programme. The programme will have a budget of 244,000,000 € for the period 2014-2020.

THE PRESIDENT OF CEOE GROWS RICH WITH THE MELILLA FENCE

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Advisory Board Miura Private Equity, Joan Rosell in the center of the image

The president of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE), Joan Rosell, told the radio network Cope in July 2012: “we opened the doors to the outside and for a number of years around half a million non-natives entered in Spain on an annual basis. This was a problem and today, seen in perspective, it is clear”. These statements produced headlines like “Opening the country to migrants when unemployment was 8% was a problem” or “Immigration aggravated the problem of unemployment.”

Joan Rosell himself chairs the venture capital firm Miura Private Equity since 2008. Under his leadership the company acquired in mid-2009 60% of Proytecsa, a security company responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of the three-dimensional fence in Melilla. The remodelling of the fence conducted in 2006 by the companies Indra and Sallén involved an investment of 20,000,000 € .

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FRONTEX AGENCY COORDINATES MASS DEPORTATIONS

The EU uses a bureaucratic technicality to circumvent the European Convention on Human Rights concerning deportations.

Barajas Airport. Deportation attempt on a commercial flight Madrid – Quito

According to information published on the website of Frontex, on October 8, 2013 a plane took off from Spain heading to Ecuador and Colombia with stops in Italy and Bulgaria. The cost of the operation was 310,000 €. On the flight travelled people without an EU residence permit. What Frontex calls joint return operations is a process of mass deportation. When an EU member decides to organise a deportation flight, it informs Frontex which coordinates the flight along with the other participating countries. The aircraft departs from the organising country and stops at the participating countries before landing in the country where deportation occurs.

In relation to cases of removal, expulsion or extradition, article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU explicitly states: “Collective expulsions are prohibited”. The European Convention on Human Rights at its Protocol No. 4 states: “Collective expulsions of foreigners are prohibited”. However, the document establishing the European Return Fund for the period 2008-2013 justifies the mass deportation by declaring: “Bearing in mind that collective expulsion is prohibited under Protocol 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights, only people who are subject to individual removal orders may be returned through joint return operations eligible for funding under this decision”. Thus a bureaucratic technicality allows the practice of mass deportation in Europe.

These “joint return” flights are financed by Frontex, as published on the website of the agency. At the end of the explanatory text for this type of operation it is explained: “The expenditure covered by Frontex may vary since other sources of funding can also be used for return flights, for example, the European Return Fund”.

frontex_image_2_ENTHE EUROPEAN RETURN FUND

The European Return Fund finances the Voluntary Return Plan, promoted by the Spanish state as a plan for economic assistance to migrants who wish to return to their country of origin voluntarily.
In May 2012 the International Organisation for Migration and the Red Cross, organisations responsible for developing part of the Voluntary Return Plan, announced the suspension of the program due to lack of resources and the existence of a constant waiting list of around 700 people.

According to financial reviews of the return programmes published by the Spanish Ministry of Interior, the total expenditure for 2012 exceeded 26,000,000 €. During that year, the Spanish government spent over 3,000,000 € of this budget on living expenses of persons detained in Detention Centres (CIEs), 1,000,000 € on healthcare costs of people detained in CIEs, whose return is pending, 2,000,000 € on living expense for officials tasked with accompanying the forced deportation missions and 11,000,000 € on travelling expenses of deported people and on the management of deportation flights. That same year, the Ministry awarded a contract of 11,000,000 € to Air Europa and Swift Air for an “air transport passenger service for the transfer of foreign citizens and public officials from different parts of the country and from there to other countries.”

Under Article 6 of Community actions, the document establishing the European Return Fund one of the destinations of the budget is indicated as “the support, development and regular updating, in cooperation with the Agency (Frontex), of a manual of best practices regarding return, also in relation to the escorts”.

In December 2013, the Frontex Agency published on its website the Code of Conduct for joint return operations. Article 6 concerning coercive measures, prohibits the use of sedatives to facilitate the expulsion except in cases of emergency to ensure flight safety. Joint return operations managed by Frontex are part of a strategy to reduce the costs of deportation proceedings and to eliminate the possibility of resistance of the people deported by the use of sedatives and the exclusive presence on board of crew, medical staff, Frontex agents, police and deported persons.

Published on the Setmanari Directa nº344

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