Defund Frontex, Build a European Search and Rescue Programme

Over the past 15 years, border police force Frontex has grown to become the EU’s most powerful agency. With a budget of € 5.6 billion and an army of 10,000 border guards due by 2027, Frontex is the key actor in implementing – as well as advancing – Fortress Europe’s deadly policies.
During this 15-year period, in which the EU decided to devote unlimited resources into the creation and expansion of its border giant, the Mediterranean Sea became, and currently remains, the world’s deadliest migration route.
These are two events – the growth of Frontex and an ever-mounting number of deaths at sea – that must be read as one: a political choice being made and carefully planned by the EU and its Member States, to protect borders over lives.

Continue reading “Defund Frontex, Build a European Search and Rescue Programme”

Frontex awards €84.5 million in aerial surveillance contracts

At the beginning of August the EU published two new contract award notices for aerial surveillance services for Frontex, worth €84.5 million. Some of the companies that were contracted have already been performing surveillance flights in the Mediterranean and elsewhere for Frontex for years now. With this they contribute to the system of increasingly militarised borders, which results in pushbacks and violence against people on the move.

A €53.6 million contract for ‘Mid-Range Maritime Surveillance Missions’ was awarded to DEA Aviation (UK), EASP Air (Netherlands), 2. Scotty Group Austria and 2Excel Aviation (UK). The same companies, with the addition of ISR Support Europe (Netherlands), also got a €30.9 million contract for ‘Long-Range Maritime Surveillance Missions’. Continue reading “Frontex awards €84.5 million in aerial surveillance contracts”

Frontex Scrutiny Working Group leaves Frontex off the hook

The ‘Report on the fact-finding investigation on Frontex concerning alleged fundamental rights violations‘ presented by the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) in the European Parliament yesterday is a disappointing document: It mostly lets Frontex off the hook, ignores the core problems of Frontex’s mandate and the EU’s militarised border policies it is part of, and merely proposes non-solutions in the form of some cosmetic changes.

Continue reading “Frontex Scrutiny Working Group leaves Frontex off the hook”

European Parliament votes on Integrated Border Management Fund

On Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 July the European Parliament will debate and vote on the Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF), a new instrument to strengthen member states’ border security capacities and visa policies. The €6.24 billion available for 2021-2027 will be spend on “the strengthening of European integrated border management, the purchase of border management equipment to be used by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the common visa policy and relevant IT systems.” Continue reading “European Parliament votes on Integrated Border Management Fund”

Next day of action: World Refugee Day – 20 June

Twitter_Frontex logo
After the campaign launch with actions in 8 countries on 9 June, there has been a callout to bring the campaign to the streets again on Sunday 20 June, World Refugee Day. Join actions on this day to to bring attention to the EU’s border regime and Frontex’ key role in it.
The ‘Frontex Scrutiny Working Group’ in the European Parliament, which has been investigating the involvement of the agency in pushbacks and violence at the borders, is rounding up its work by then. We know that at best this will lead to some cosmetic changes as long as the militarisation of borders and the turning away of people on the move remain core elements of the EU’s racist migration policies. No extra fundamental rights officers or more monitoring or false pledges to uphold human rights will end Frontex deadly operations. Frontex is building its own police force and is in the process of spending about €5 million on firearms for this ‘Standing Border Guard Corps’. Another profitable opportunity for arms companies who have been so influential in shaping Europe’s border policies.
On 20 June we will make it clear that Frontex and the EU border regime can’t be reformed, they need to be abolished. We are targeting the policies and system that keep Frontex in place. We are working towards the dismantling of the border-industrial complex, and the building of a society where people are free to move and live.
Some simple actions groups have done which you could do in your own city/town, include:         
  • Print and put up posters with our demands to Abolish Frontex and to dismantle Fortress Europe;   
  • Hand out flyers in public spaces and inform people about Frontex’ practices and EU’s militarised border regime;       
  • Do a public reading of the the names on the ‘UNITED list of refugee deathsto commemorate the over 40,000 people on the move who have died since 1993 because of Europe’s deadly border and migration policies.
Let us know what you do so we can help share and amplify local actions.
Any questions or suggestions? Contact us!

Abolish Frontex, end the EU border regime

Read this letter in:
Arabic    French    German    Greek    Italiano    Polish    Portuguese    Spanish    Turkish

To: EU member states governments, the European Commission, European Council, Council of the EU, European Parliament and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex)

Over 740 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, looking for a place of safety. The EU’s border regime forced them to take dangerous migration routes, often on unseaworthy vessels; it enlisted neighbouring countries to stop them on their way; met them with violence and pushbacks; or refused to rescue them – abandoning them to drown at sea.

These are lives lost because of the European Union’s obsession with reinforcing borders instead of protecting people. At what cost? The policies of Fortress Europe have killed over 40,555 people since 1993. Left to die in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the desert, shot at borders, died by suicide at detention centres, tortured and killed after being deported — The EU has blood on its hands.

At the centre of this violence lies the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex – the EU’s border police force. For its 15 years of existence, Frontex has been both avid promoter and key enforcer of Europe’s violent policies against people on the move. Often hiding away from public scrutiny, over the past months a series of investigations by journalists and human rights groups have put Frontex in the spotlight. Extensive evidence has exposed how the EU’s border force is repeatedly involved in illegal pushbacks and human rights violations.

These revelations are not unfortunate coincidences, misunderstandings or isolated incidents. They are the tip of the iceberg, and the inherent result of the EU’s militarised border regime. Every death at the border and instance of violence is a policy of the EU’s own making – by choice and by design.

Frontex has now secured a €5.6 billion budget until 2027 and, by then, will have its own army of 10,000 armed border guards; it will also have more powers than ever in coordinating EU-wide deportations. Meanwhile, Europe has now built over 1,000 kilometres of border walls and fences. The EU’s militarised borders are sustained by intense and invasive surveillance and connected by databases full of personal – biometric – information. To stop people from even reaching European soil, third countries are put under heavy pressure to act as outpost border guards.

These policies are built on a narrative that frames migration as a security problem, depicting desperate people on the move as a threat. They’ve been designed in close collaboration with the military and security industry, who is making billions of euros in profits as a result.

These policies don’t protect lives. They put them in danger. They fuel the rise of the far right across Europe, they reinforce racism, and build on centuries of colonialism, oppression and exploitation.

At the same time, the European Union keeps contributing to the root causes of migration —  from arms exports to the extraction of resources and its responsibility for the climate crisis.

Fortress Europe fills us with shame, suppresses rights and prevents justice. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Today, activists and organizations from in- and outside the EU are coming together with a single demand: Abolish Frontex and the system it spearheads.

We don’t want to see more lives lost at sea or in the desert; lives wasted in detention or in inhumane refugee camps. We oppose a world increasingly divided by fortified borders to protect the wealth of the rich from the desperation and righteous anger of the poor and oppressed.

We believe in freedom of movement for all; in providing support and shelter for people on the move, and in working towards a world where people are no longer forced to flee their homes and can live where they choose to.

In this context, Frontex cannot be reformed. It must be abolished. As the signatories of this letter, we pledge our commitment to this goal. There are no excuses, investigations or halfhearted reform procedures that should ever justify Frontex’ existence.

We demand that the structures and policies that cause violence and death be dismantled. Instead, we must build a system that guarantees justice and safety for all. We demand that you abolish Frontex and end the EU border regime it represents.

 

 

 

Firearms for Frontex

Frontex is building its own Standing Border Guard Corps to work on border security, border control and deportations. This should be 10,000 persons strong by 2027, though recruitment and training is lagging behind. Frontex wants this corps to be armed, and is in the process of purchasing firearms, but the legal grounds for this are still unclear.

Mid-May Frontex started a tender procedure for the purchase of 2,500 9 x 19 mm semi-automatic pistols and over 3,6 million rounds of ammunition for its border guard corps. It expects to spend €5 million on this in the next two years, with the possibility to prolong the contract for two more years. Other items on the shopping list are bulletproof vests, rubber and telescopic battons and cans of lachrymatory agents. Continue reading “Firearms for Frontex”

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