12 November 2021 – At the end of October Frontex awarded contracts for the provision of firearms and ammunition its new Standing Border Guard Corps. Austrian arms producer Glock will €3.76 million to supply 2,500 9×19 mm semi-automatic pistols (including accessories and training)over the course of four years. Over 3.6 million rounds of ammunition will be provided by Polish companies Mildat and Parasnake Arkadiusz Szewczyk, which will earn €1.24 million in total.
With these contracts Frontex another step in building up its own border police force, the first armed EU police force. While the process of recruiting and training officers for the corpsis ongoing, the first batches of officers have already been deployed to support border security and control operations in Italy, Greece, Spain, the Western Balkans, Lithuania and Latvia. The buildup of the border police force is part of the overall expansion of Frontex into an uncontrollable monster. As such it plays a leading part in the militarisation of Europe’s borders. The agency routinely participates in pushbacks, violence and other human rights violations at the EU’s external borders.
The legal basis for arming the corps is still very shaky. Last year, as Statewatch wrote, legal analysis by “external experts and a regulatory law firm” concluded that the 2019 Frontex Regulation does not provide a legal basis for acquiring, registering, storing or transporting weapons in Poland. Frontex has managed to reach an agreement with Poland, where the arms will be delivered to its headquarters in Warsaw. The actual use of the pistols, clearly foreseen with the amount of ammunition purchased, is legal per the Frontex Regulation 2019, according to European Commissioner Johanssonanswers to parliamentary questions. In January the Frontex Management Board, comprised of representatives of Member States’ border authorities, adopted ‘Specific rules to facilitate the storage of weapons’. Next to possible storage in EU member states the rules also open up the possibility of storage in non-EU-countries, in line with the start of Frontex operations in third countries. Meanwhileresponsibilities and accountability for the use of firearms remain vague, with Frontex pushing for as much immunities as possible for its officers.
The selection of Glock to provide pistols is not surprising. In preparation of the tender process, the company was one of the six invited to the Frontex ‘Industry Dialogue – Procurement of handguns, ammunition and holsters’ in December 2019.
Glock firearms are used by militaries and security and police forces all over the world. This includes highly controversial users such as border forces in the United States, Finland, Australia, Poland and Latvia, police forces in Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, the armies of Israel, Myanmar and Yemen and special forces in India, Pakistan and Turkey.