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The European Union Securitization Policy Towards Migration 2014-2022

ABSTRACT

The European Union and the Nation-States in the EU experienced a turning point in migration management after 2014 when a series of terrorist attacks undermined the stability and sovereignty of the European States. This research aims at proving that the governments and institutions within the EU have shifted the focus from reception and rescue to border security and that the operationalisation of the migration discourse has led to increased use of violence against asylum seekers, including the involvement of military organizations such as NATO. In addition to States and international organizations, security and defence companies as well have strategic plans that favour the transformation of borders into areas of tension. The realist theory is used to assess that the European actors pursue their interests for their own benefit.

Keywords: European Union, securitization, border management, migration, the armaments industry

 

INTRODUCTION

From 2014 onwards receiving Western European countries changed attitudes toward migration, they acted selective and distrustful, seizing the lack of international regulations that would protect displaced people. Political asylum should be granted according to humanitarian and non-discriminatory criteria, however, European countries adopted a strategy of containment. In doing so, they narrowed the legal requirements down to obtain the status of refugee, thereby they left thousands of people out of their borders. A strict, literal interpretation of international law allowed Western countries to deny hospitality to people escaping indirect consequences of war such as famines, or poverty, and to grant entry only to a small circle of people directly affected by a conflict. The typical instruments to minimize arrivals, besides the law-based just mentioned, are the closing of borders, the expulsions of refugees, and the isolation in refugee camps[1]. In the last years, new ways have been added to such mechanisms, indeed the European border management employed military-based operations in order to avoid migration. If previously the strategic plan used to consist in the prevention at the source, or the forced repatriation such as the refoulement of illegal immigrants, lately the logic has shifted towards increasing use of violence, the asset of more sophisticated arms and technologies, and the preparation of contingency plans.

On the one hand, the European Union and its Members aim at standing as civilian, gentle actors in the international arena, in other words, to promote peace and democracy through the so-called soft power. Nevertheless, as provided the realist approach they seem to have put aside the liberal values and engaged in the promotion of their geopolitical and economic interests. The European foreign policy, rather than pursuing a normative and just vision, is determined by the political context and risks of time[2].

For instance, in 2014-2015 the European States was recovering from the financial crisis and their economic status did not enable them to welcome major flows of asylum seekers looking for a fresh start and stability. The aftermath of 9/11 was still widely felt among the public opinion, whose depiction of migrants led to their stigmatization: in Western countries, there was the concern that hijackers could benefit from the globalization and enter their country via migration channels or that refugee camps could host the radicalization and the recruitment of new members by terroristic organizations. Right-wing conservative and populist parties were riding the wave of the anti-migration slogans to gain popularity, claiming that refugees were an economic and social burden. As Bigo stated in his paper Security and Immigration: Toward a Critique of the Governmentality of Unease: “[T]he securitization of immigration […] emerges from the correlation between some successful speech acts of political leaders, the mobilization they create for and against some groups of people […]”[3]. Indeed, the strategy of division between an “us” and a “them” worked for populist and right-wing parties to capture new electors, hence building a sense of community by exploiting the pressure of an external threat. However, politicians are just one of the categories that benefit from the intensification of border surveillance, the exclusion of certain groups from the society and their consequent dehumanization[4]. Weaponized border management is beneficial to other interests inside the European Union, which are correlated with technologies of surveillance and control going beyond national borders[5].

The aim of this paper is first to show the process of militarization in the migration topic in the last years. Since words express the intentions of an actor and are the best way to explain its actions, this part of the research will be based on official declarations of the European authorities, namely the European Agenda on Migration 2015-2020 and its successor the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The first paragraph will be followed by another one showing the operationalization of the aforementioned plans. Therefore, the second section will focus on the support by military corps at the European external borders and their military actions, such as the EUNAVFOR Med mission carried out by Frontex in the Mediterranean Sea, the migration crisis at the Belarusian-Polish borderline, and the NATO’s intervention in the Aegean Sea. The goal of the third part will be to understand who is gaining from the closure of borders and how much the armaments market is involved. The European Defense Fund and the European Defense and Industry Fund will illustrate the security companies involved. Once defined the actors, it will be possible to link them to the missions in which they have been involved and to assess how much money has been received from the European funds. This line of argument will lead to a wider understanding of the degree of influence that private security companies exert on the political agenda. Literature on the securitization of foreign policy at borders is still little developed and does not include recent case studies like the Belarusian “hybrid attack” on the European Union. For this reason, the research covers the lack of studies about the recent evolution of security practices in migration management with the help of the realist theory.

 

1. The Migration Discourse in the European Agenda

The analysis of documents released by the European institutions shows the tendency toward militarization in borders management. The communication of programmed actions, their purpose, and the mandate to achieve them is essential to understanding the strategic vision of an international actor. The first subsection examines the words of the European Agenda on Migration 2015-2020, the second one looks over the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. Through the agenda, the European Union promotes a stable, norm-based and market-oriented policy, in which external actions are realigned with internal security[6].

 

1.1. The European Agenda on Migration 2015-2020

The tone of the European Agenda on Migration reflected the distrustful feeling widespread on the European soil following the events that occurred in January at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office in Paris. At that time the European reaction to the terroristic events had led to an obsessive manhunt in gateway countries and refugee camps. The European Commission, indeed, identified among the first, immediate actions to be taken the targeting of criminal smuggling and human traffic networks. The Common Security and Defense Policy framework together with Europol authorities were mentioned several times in the document and were identified to carry on security performances with the aim to monitor illegal maritime and promotional internet activities, destroy vessels, and finally capture smugglers. The institution envisaged increasing the budget dedicated to the military operations Poseidon and Triton by Frontex, in doing so the geographical area under the European surveillance was broadened and accommodated the Member States in the management of external pressure. Albeit the European Union was committed to the international protection of displaced people, as a matter of fact, the plan covered only 20.000 resettlements on the whole continent, whereas it mostly favoured interventions in the countries of origin. In particular, the EU undertook the Regional Development and Protection Programs, which were intended to promote stabilization and growth, and foresaw the deployment of multi-purpose centres in native or transit lands to collect information about incomers and support the voluntary return, according to the international law’s principle of non-refoulement[7]. Therefore, it can be affirmed that the European attitude was operating in the preventive and defensive light.

Besides, the Agenda reflected the top priority status of defence with the announcement that it would have created new hubs of experts hosted by Europol, such as the European Counter Terrorism Centre, or the European Migrant Smuggling Centre. Both projects were launched later in 2016 and covered many tasks to dismantle the work of criminal organizations, whose trade accounted for 90% of migratory arrivals in Europe, support the EU Regional Task Force, and respond to the threat of extremism. Only in 2019, did the EMSC achieve 474 arrests and 75 priority criminal cases. Moreover, the external borders were said to be reinforced with the intervention of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which was requested to provide each Member State with a vulnerability assessment regards equipment, infrastructures, budget, and financial resources. The activity of the Agency was further developed at the end of 2019 with the setting up of an executive staff composed of 10.000 operational corps[8].

 

1.2. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum 2021-2025

The new Pact continues to be a control geared Agenda, similarly to the previous one and does not give the impression of revising it[9]. Already in the first pages, it makes evidence of carrying on with a sharp attitude with references to security checks, forced return procedures and voluntary departures. In particular, the 2021-2025 Action Plan provides for the fight against smuggling through the support of law enforcement, operational capacity, and information exchange in collaboration with partner countries. The dismantling of the illegal human-traffic system should make the identification and registration of refugees in the screening database Eurodac easier, as smugglers often provide false documentation to immigrants and thus clear the way to unauthorised movements within the European territories[10]. To sanction criminals, the Member States are expected to join forces with the European Agencies, such as EASO, Frontex, Europol and Eurojust. Moreover, even though the European Union encourages voluntary returns and offers educational training in order to incentivize economic opportunities at home, as a matter of fact, the funds dedicated to the development and assistance to Sub Saharan Africa are lower than the investments in border management. The Multiannual Financial Network envisages, in fact, 30 billion euros for the latter in the 2021-2027 period, whereas 26 billion euros are granted for assistance to the native lands[11]. Finally, in the Conclusions on the Civilian CSDP Compact, the European Council stresses that the Strategic Compass, which outlines the European vision for a common military strategy in the future, will guide and set the level of ambition for the civilian CSDP[12]. All in all, the scheme follows the preventive, strongly security-oriented approach. Indeed, it supports countries of origin in the local economic development, but the main focus is still on the gatekeeping function of borders [13].

 

2. The Operationalization of the European Migration Agenda

The intentions expressed by the just analyzed statements were put into action by a multiplicity of actors: the European Institutions, the European agencies conjointly with the Member States, the Member States themselves, and some external partners[14]. The operations carried out, although, in theory, intended to manage the flows of legal migration and guarantee a well-functioning of borders, are securitizing practices since their employment seems to encourage a biased vision of migration, that would represent a security threat to be addressed[15]. In fact, the border management is focused on border control and the disruption of migrant smuggling, instead of humanitarian assistance and rescue activities. The Member States and the European institutions are part of a complex intersected system of responsibilities; hence the securitization of frontiers needs to be addressed both at the European level and at the foreign policy level of each European country. The EUNAVFOR Med mission will firstly illustrate the operationalization conducted by Frontex on behalf of the European Commission. Afterwards, the transformation of migration into a dangerous phenomenon by the Polish government will show the increase in violence at its border with Belarus. Finally, NATO’s deployment in the Aegean Sea will demonstrate that migration is no longer understood as a need for assistance, but rather as a need for security and defence against intruders and criminals.

 

2.1. Operation EUNAVFOR Med in 2014

The European Union Naval Force in the South-Central Mediterranean or Operation Sophia, launched on June 22nd 2015 by the European Council, is one out of many examples of arms employment in civil missions. It will be mentioned in this regard, but it would be fair to say that a similar reference could be made for additional joint missions in the Southern region of Europe, such as Triton, Poseidon, or Irini. The EUNAVFOR Med’s executive mandate aimed to dismantle the business of human traffickers on the basis of the following three phases[16]:

  1. The surveillance and gathering of information about existing smuggling networks and their criminal modus operandi in order to assess a risk analysis and a course of action. The mission was completed after less than four months on October 7th
  2. The tackle of migrant smuggling in international waters, on high seas or in Libyan internal waters by means of boarding, search, seizure, and diversion of suspected vessels, according to the UN Security Council resolution 2292 (2016) under the Chapter VII.
  3. The application of harder actions, namely this last phase pushed border forces to “take all necessary measures against a vessel or related assets, including through disposing of them or rendering them inoperable”[17].

The EUNAVFOR mission was extended firstly by 2017, then by 2018 and once again by 2019. Over time its role was strengthened with further initiatives in support of the local coastguard and navy, such as their training and their equipment with arms. Nevertheless, its mandate was restricted by the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2292 (2016), which covered action only on high seas off Libyan coasts. Moreover, the Libyan government itself did not authorize the use of external coercive power in its area of sovereignty, so the European deployment of violence was possible only on stateless ships on international waters, and flagged vessels on high seas off Libyan coasts.

As a consequence of the Sophia military intervention, the Mediterranean migration route resulted in a fatal, deadly border situation. Whereas human traffickers were confined within the national seas of Libya, where authorities were not capable to tackle the illegal departures and smugglers were secured by international law from outside warnings, common people were left just outside the coastal national territory on a boat with little odds of survival[18]. But at this point the European vessels were compelled to render assistance, considering that the commitment is mandatory by international law. However, the military nature of the European project has caused several serious incidents while on rescue missions, which have been officially reported by Frontex. For example, documents notify that not infrequently Member States’ coast guards tow immigrants’ boats outside their sovereignty or inform other countries with the excuse that their control measures were unsuccessful due to immigrants’ non-cooperation, leaving people to spend hours on someone else’s arrival; or further guard boats cause the crash of rubber boats while approaching them[19].

 

2.2. Border Fencing in Poland in 2020

Continental routes are easier than maritime ones to manage from an operational point of view. Host countries can control the flow of people through predetermined access points such as airports, where migrants are requested to provide personal information and documents at border checks.  However, following the wave of intolerance and migration containment, overland access as well as experienced a trend towards harder security. The situation at the Polish border with Belarus represents an ideal model to research how migrants are subject to violent pushbacks and European borders are becoming increasingly dangerous. Moreover, the Polish case is the perfect example to show that the refugee experience has been politicized by institutions to pursue their own internal and external interests. Migrants are no longer considered human beings fleeing from war, on the contrary in the act of dehumanization they become weapons serving a country’s foreign policy.

In 2021, after several reports of increased migration by East-European countries[20], the European Union accused Belarus to use migrants as a weapon to destabilize and put pressure on its area of sovereignty in reaction to the imposition of sanctions on the Belarusian government. The mass migration was framed as a “hybrid war” by the European authorities, hence charging Belarus to strive for its strategic objectives by means of military, paramilitary, and civilian operations. Nevertheless, the situation at the Polish frontier cannot be qualified as an act of open aggression, according to international law, but rather as a hybrid threat. The intention behind the two terms is the same, however, the second one is used by revisionist actors when they want to subvert the status quo without employing violent measures[21].

Consequently, to the increased pressure at its borders, the Polish government declared a state of emergency at the beginning of September. Among other measures, it appeared a proposal to build a barbed-wire fence and ban civilian movements in a border strip of 3 kilometres. Poland’s proposition was not the first of its kind in the Schengen area, in fact, already Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Slovenia, and Spain had fortified their borders with physical excluding barriers[22]. Moreover, the limitation to access in the area was not intended only for citizens, but it was expanded to journalists, human rights organizations, and other NGOs[23]. The situation resulted in the complete isolation of migrants, who were left alone without media coverage to give them a voice or humanitarian aid to take care of their traumatic experience[24].

The Polish decision was shared and reinforced at the European level by a letter signed conjointly with the Interior Ministers of eleven other Member States directed to the European Commission. The letter commented on the security of external borders and supported the idea to erect “physical barriers as a measure of protection of the EU external borders”[25]. The request suggests that European officials may have taken inspiration from the famous wall conceived by the former American President Donald Trump on the border with Mexico and they may have been carried away by the idea of gaining charisma through the populist shutout against migrants. On the one hand, the European Council President expressed his support for the initiative of border fencing; on the other hand, the final decision was called upon by the European Commission since devoting a budget to the issue falls within its competencies. Although President Von der Leyen agreed with the rhetoric of the instrumentalization of migrants by the Belarusian authorities, in the end, she expressed disagreement on taking such hard measures[26].

Being recalled from the international community for its actions of dubious legal foundation, the Polish government justified its position during a press conference on September 27th by presenting migrants as terrorists. The vision set forth by the Director of the Department of National Security at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister included pictures of people crossing borders, which were said to be allegedly found on phones or on a mysterious memory card. The materials depicted Middle Eastern people in uniform, a man about to have a sexual act with an animal, and naked children with the intention to dehumanize asylum seekers. The presentation as monsters should have pushed the Polish population to experience a sense of fear and unsafety, a sort of rally around the flag effect. Moreover, the rhetoric served the scope to rationalize the presence of 2000 soldiers at borders with the excuse that many travellers arrive without proper documents, thus they could have been criminals or terrorists who needed to be identified beforehand before accessing the Schengen area[27].

The number of military staff was soon increased from 2000 units in September to 6000 units in October, without counting in the police contingents. The sudden rise of military presence was envisaged to strengthen the border security, in particular, to support the Border Guard in the screening, the assessment of people entitled to refugee status, the prevention of illegal cross boardings and in some cases the detention of criminals. The European Union offered to deploy the Frontex guards in an attempt to both come in and help Poland and supervise the situation after five people had died under unclear circumstances[28].  It was not the first time violence was used on asylum seekers, as reported by several NGOs such as Border violence Monitoring Network or Amnesty International. They collected verified testimonies of human rights violence and claimed the use of force at European borders. In general, testimonies and monthly reports show that police and guard officers abuse their position to employ violence against immigrants, torture and physically harm them. Sometimes masked rescue agents “confiscate” personal belongings and threaten migrants with arms, reaching the peak with some cases of the open fire on refugees[29]. The list could continue, but the evidence shows that Polish and European intervention does not always mean rescue and solidarity. For instance, the Polish Border Guard, Michał Tokarczyk declared: “Belarusian services are moving large groups of migrants towards the Polish border. We are waiting for their further move, and we are prepared for any scenario”, emphasizing that Poland was presumably ready to respond to an attack with 4500 border guards and 9500 army soldiers[30].

The gradual increase of tensions, power abuse and spoiling of refugees’ image led to the legitimation of violence and belligerent behaviour from the top down[31]. As a result, migrants are pushed back and forth from one border to another without a solution to their sufferings or even finding death while Polish and Belarusian soldiers bother each other and make the upper floors nervous. Nevertheless, the European Union and its Members are not keen to fall short of chess and give up with an iron fist. On the one hand, there is an overall willingness to prove that democratic values orient the European vision as long as being a civilian power does not prevent from using strong-arm tactics if needed. By the way, there is still a lack of a common defence policy, thus Europeans rely primarily on the interventions of single Member States or on the alliance with the USA. On the other hand, the European defence “has increasingly invested in sophisticated technological devices in order to strengthen border security”[32].

 

2.3. NATO’s SNMG2 in the Aegean Sea in 2016

Given the rampant concern about migration on the old continent, the European countries introduced the issue to NATO’s headquarters in an effort to achieve American involvement. Here a discussion about the possible threats linked with refugee flows was opened in 2016, which included the preoccupation with border security, counterterrorism, and armed conflicts. At the end of the meeting on February 11th, the Defense Ministers sitting at the security table agreed on the organization of interventions in support of the Greek and Turkish action in the Aegean Sea[33]. The mission was to be coordinated along with the European border supervisor Frontex, resulting in a fruitful partnership with NATO’s assets and expertise in the military field, whereas Frontex contributed with its many years of experience as migration and border manager. Moreover, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization came help to the many countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea touched by smuggling and between them and the European agencies as well. NATO’s framework strengthened the strategic cooperation and represented a link for the sharing of defence-relevant information. In particular, it expanded coordination on cyber security and defence, developed interoperable and coherent capabilities, and broadened operational knowledge for all actors involved[34].

Concretely, NATO’s deployment in the Aegean Sea consisted of the presence of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 – SNMG2 – in the territorial waters of Greece and Turkey and in international waters to assist the allies in their duties[35]. The warships provided real-time information to partners, they studied smugglers’ illicit activity, their arms trade, and patterns, and were indirectly involved in the push-back activities[36].

Later in July the alliance assistance was expanded to the Mediterranean Sea with Operation Sea Guardian, which was previously Operation Active-Endeavour, turning its task from a fight against counterterrorism to maritime security[37].

The involvement of NATO and the European Common Security and Defense Policy to tackle the migration flows shows that there is a growing appeal to security actors in migration management[38]. Moreover, the partnership symbolizes the recall to multilateralism and the expansion of the discussion to find a common solution to the issue. Recourse to military and defensive tools signal the European political intention, but behind capabilities, there is also a flourishing industry.

 

3. The Defense Migration Industry

Other than political authorities there are economical actors involved and earning from stronger border management. These important interests need to be accounted for in the research for two main reasons: their incomes related to border security are huge; there is a great military-industrial complex. In fact, the arms industry produces for European governments radars, surveillance systems, and biometric data and provides aircraft, maritime and land vehicles, and fences[39]. The budget of the External Borders Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the Borders and Schengen Facility for the 2004-2020 period amounted to 4.5 billion euros [40]. The figure has been used in various ways, from policy research programs in order to frame irregular migration, to dual-use technologies trade – which is both employed for combat and civilian contexts in response to the ever-growing defence budget constraints -, or monitoring and surveillance services[41].

Gammeltoft-Hansen and Nyberg Sørensen define the migration industry as “encompassing not only the service providers facilitating migration, but equally control providers such as private contractors performing immigration checks, operating detention centres and/or carrying out forced returns”[42]. Migration routes have attracted national and transnational companies, legal border access agencies, former migrants’ networks, and NGOs. However, the research will provide a look only into the first aforementioned actors’ business. It will be first defined who they are, then attention will be put on their revenues and finally, the focus will shift to their power in the lobby.

 

3.1. Security Companies Involved in the Migration Management

Security companies are nationally based and provide military capabilities to the European Member States. The European agencies do not hold expertise, technologies, and equipment on their own, hence they rely on the support of participating countries[43]. The top three airspace security companies within the EU are Airbus, Leonardo, and Thales. Airbus is the forefront pan European aeronautics and space company, it offers aircraft and aerospace innovations; Leonardo is the Italian technological partner of governments, defence authorities, institutions, and enterprises; Thales is another French firm that deals with cybersecurity, digital identity, and aerospace. Security companies such as the just mentioned benefit from border militarization as they supply air proficiency, mostly aeroplanes, helicopters, or drones. Regards maritime vehicles, shipyards are bought from the Italian Fincantieri, the Spanish Navantia, the French DCNS and the Dutch Damen.

Moreover, construction companies provide materials for fence wires, land, and virtual walls. In this context, the most famous company furnishing razor wire is the Spanish European Security Fencing, which offers a wide range of razor wire, electrified walls, and anti-climb elements. The ESF technology was at first deployed in Ceuta and Melilla to stop migrants coming from Morocco, seen the success of the design, the Concertina wire was then installed in Morocco, on the border between Hungary and Serbia, on the border between Bulgaria and Turkey, at Calais, between Austria and Slovenia[44]. The so-called virtual walls are handled by Sopra Steria and GMV. Those companies help governments with their software in mobility management thanks to geolocation and mobile analysis tools. Other companies provide detention services, for example, the Group 4 security company operates in immigration internment centres.

 

3.2. Economic Indexes in Armaments Regarding Securitisation of Migration

Private companies capitalize on the request of democracies facing security threats to protect their citizens and territories. Those companies enter into important contracts with Member States and the EU by supplying the equipment needed to complete missions. For instance, the European Commission in 2017 with the aim to finance research and military innovative assets provided by profit-making companies created the European Defense Fund. The fund envisaged a total of €590 million for the 2017-2020 period and it is supposed to grow up to €13 billion in the following six years. Additionally, the Member States are requested to contribute with at least €2 billion every year, reaching the maximum ceiling of €35,6 billion in 2027.[45]

 

Table 1: Revenues of European security enterprises for communitarian missions

Company Employed for Revenues
Sopra Seria VIS, SIS II, EURODAC €150 million[46]
GMV EUROSUR €12 million[47]
Leonardo Falco military drones trial flights €1.7 million[48]
Leonardo Ocean2020 €35 million[49]
Thales Alenia Space EROSS+ (Horizon2020) €3 million[50]
Airbus X6 helicopters €377 million[51]
Damen Vessels for the Turkish Coast Guard €20 million[52]

 

Table 1 shows how much European security companies are rewarded for their commitment in some of the European missions related to border management, thus demonstrating that there are high interests at stake in the migration industry. Indeed, all cited projects are involved in the securitization of external borders and frontiers: they set off capabilities for tracking and controlling migration flows. Moreover, the spread of the neoliberal paradigm among the European elites allows governments to support actively the migration industry financially[53]. The business of these firms is largely co-financed by European governments, approximately a share of 30% of Leonardo, one of the top three airspace security companies, is owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance[54].

In particular, five companies dominate the defence sector – Airbus, Leonardo, Thales, Dassault Aviation, Indra Sistemas – and secured 75% of total European Defense Industrial Development Program funds, which is worth €363 million out of €480 million. The investigation conducted by Investigate Europe claims that from the participation in EDIDP projects Airbus received €222 million, Thales obtained €230 million, and Leonardo was rewarded €301 million[55].

Regards the Polish wire fence, sources are inconsistent about the amount paid by the government for its construction. The figure is estimated between 350€ million and 400€ million, nevertheless, it proves that behind migration there are important capitalizations, and the defence industry plays a significant role[56].

 

3.3. Arm Sales Revenues as Lobbying Power behind Border Securitization

The security industry is committed to the lobbying activity as well, in fact, defence enterprises try to build alliances and push their interests forward in the political arena with the aim to give emphasis to their issues and influence policymakers. Companies take part in two major lobby groups, the Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe and the European Organization for Security. Their power to act lies in their financial weight, given that their total annual revenues exceed billions of euros as shown in Table 2.

 

Table 2: Revenues of the top three European security companies.

Company Arm sales 2020
Airbus $11990 million
Leonardo $11160 million
Thales $9050 million

Source: SIPRI Arms Industry Database[57]

 

The lobbying activity enhances a border-industrial complex, where European agencies such as Frontex entail strong relationships with security companies, who on the one hand, are invited to take part in public events and debates on migration and, on the other hand, are asked to provide the necessary equipment to put the decisions into practice. In the 138 meetings held by Frontex between 2017 and 2019, both Airbus and Leonardo took part in five, which is the highest frequency among other representatives of business interests[58]. Thereby, a win-win situation is established because border guards are provided with efficient surveillance instruments and the industry has access to a market where substantial profits are possible and funds for research are available.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Border management has experienced a turn in the direction of securitization. After 2015 the whole European Union perceived itself as under attack from external threats, namely the tragic events that occurred in France unleashed fear among the population. Politicians took advantage of the social anxiety to direct aggressiveness toward the “foreign enemies”. Apart from electoral gain, States are interested in strengthening the frontiers because they support the flourishing of the defence industry. In fact, the research affirms that governments and ministries are important investors in security companies. At the same time, the business of security companies is secured thanks to their influential power over politics. To answer the questions asked in the introduction, the European Union as an international actor is striving for its security objectives, which have been stated both inside the European Agenda on Migration 2015-2020 and in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. In doing so, the EU refers to migrants in terms of smuggling networks and illegal migration flows. Moreover, the European Agendas envisaged more capabilities and funds for the defence sector rather than for the development of native countries. Afterwards, it was provided that civilian rescue and assistance operations have been transformed into paramilitary or military missions. The EUNAVFOR Med mission in the Mediterranean Sea included the possibility to take hard measures against migrants and NGOs’ reports demonstrated that maritime guards have not refrained from employing it. Similarly, at the Polish border with Belarus, the migration flow was instrumentalised by both Belarusian and European sides in the defence of their strategic goals. Migrants are no longer considered humans, instead, they are weapons to deploy in foreign policy. Other than parties, governments, and single politicians it was stated that national-owned companies are behind the securitization of borders. The profit of these economic actors is actually twofold, as they not only receive European funding but also capitalize on their knowledge and make products available to States. Curiously, arms are also sold to non-European countries, where instability and disorder are thus increased and as a consequence, there is an increment in people fleeing and seeking redress in Europe[59]. The high revenues of the arms market allow Airbus, Leonardo, Thales, and other defence companies to have a say on the European agenda. However, the real victims of this system are migrants on whose skin great gains are made in terms of money and popularity. Set out to find peace, in reality, they are the weapons themselves in the international arena.

 

Margherita Ceserani


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FOOTNOTES

[1] Belloni, Roberto, Manuela Moschella, and Daniela Sicurelli. Le Organizzazioni Internazionali: Struttura, Funzioni, Impatto. Bologna: Il mulino, 2013.

[2] Hans J. Morgenthau “A Realism Theory of International Politics.” Google Libri. Google, 1985.  https://books.google.it/books?hl=it&lr=&id=IfYABAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA53&dq=realism%2Binterest%2Bmorgenthau%2Bsix%2Bprinciples&ots=MvTxW8Tl9I&sig=qyWUTNzDmJK1eixQdhp6xeE5els&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=realism%20interest%20morgenthau%20six%20principles&f=false

[3] Bigo, Didier. “Security and Immigration: Toward a Critique of the Governmentality of Unease.” – Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 27, no. 1_suppl (2002): 63–92. https://doi.org/10.1177/03043754020270s105.

[4] Nagy and Siegel, “The Migration Crisis?: Criminalization, Security and Survival by Dina Siegel” (Goodreads, April 25, 2018), https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40816334-the-migration-crisis

[5] Bigo, Didier. “Security and Immigration: Toward a Critique of the Governmentality of Unease.” – Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 27, no. 1_suppl (2002): 63–92. https://doi.org/10.1177/03043754020270s105

[6] Pietz, Tobias. “The Civilian CSDP Compact: Strengthening or Repurposing EU Civilian Crisis Management?” IAI, 2018. ISSN 2532-6570

[7] “Communication from The Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and The Committee of the Regions. A European Agenda on migration.” EUR-Lex. European Commission, May 13, 2015. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52015DC0240.

[8] “Progress Report on the Implementation of the European Agenda on Migration” (European Commission, 2019).

[9] Michela Ceccorulli and Enrico Fassi, “The EU’s External Governance of Migration: Perspectives of Justice,” Routledge & CRC Press, 2022, https://www.routledge.com/The-EUs-External-Governance-of-Migration-Perspectives-of-Justice/Ceccorulli-Fassi/p/book/9780367893323.

[10]“EU Fight against Migrant Smuggling and Exploitation.” European Commission, September 29, 2021. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/api/files/attachment/870130/EU%20fight%20against%20migrant%20smuggling%20and%20exploitation.pdf.

[11] Pietz, Tobias. “The Civilian CSDP Compact: Strengthening or Repurposing EU Civilian Crisis Management?” IAI, 2018. ISSN 2532-6570

[12] General Secretariat of the Council, “AK/ILS 2 Annex Relex.1 – Data.consilium.europa.eu” (Council of the European Union, December 13, 2021), https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14740-2021-INIT/en/pdf.

[13] “New Pact on Migration and Asylum Package” (European Commission, September 2020), https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/new-pact-on-migration-and-asylum-package_1.pdf.

[14] Michela Ceccorulli and Enrico Fassi, “The EU’s External Governance of Migration: Perspectives of Justice,” Routledge & CRC Press, 2022, https://www.routledge.com/The-EUs-External-Governance-of-Migration-Perspectives-of-Justice/Ceccorulli-Fassi/p/book/9780367893323.

[15] Sarah Léonard and Christian Kaunert, “The Securitisation of Migration in the European Union: Frontex and Its Evolving Security Practices,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2020, pp. 1-13, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183x.2020.1851469.

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[21] Piotr Łubiński, “Hybrid Warfare or Hybrid Threat – The Weaponization of Migration as an Example of the Use of Lawfare – Case Study of Poland,” 2021, https://czasopisma.marszalek.com.pl/images/pliki/ppsy/51/ppsy202209.pdf.

[22] Person and Janis Laizans, “Lithuania Starts Building First European Wall to Ward off Migrants from Belarus,” Reuters (Thomson Reuters, November 8, 2021), https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/lithuania-starts-building-first-european-wall-ward-off-migrants-belarus-2021-11-04/; Reuters, “Norway Will Build a Fence at Its Arctic Border with Russia (Published 2016),” The New York Times (The New York Times, August 24, 2016), https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/world/europe/russia-norway-border-fence-refugees.html; Rawan Radwan, “Border Walls Symbolize a Europe Where Refugees Are Increasingly Unwelcome,” Arab News, January 14, 2022, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2004706/world.

[23] Sergio Carrera, “Walling off Responsibility? The Pushbacks at the EU’s External Borders with Belarus” (CEPS, November 2021), https://www.ceps.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PI2021-18_EUs-External-Borders-with-Belarus.pdf.

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