Military-style command centres, databases of millions of people, massive surveillance through remote-controlled drones, billion-Euro research and national procurement programmes. Far from the public eye, the governments of the European Union are pursuing a weighty long-term plan to use technology on a massive scale for the control of the European borders.
At their most recent summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, EU government leaders even chose border security as their most important topic of discussion. They deemed it important to “stop illegal migration” and “protect our people’s security”, as Chancellor Angela Merkel said. She saw it as a new “spirit of collaboration” in an otherwise rather divided Europe.
But will the desired surveillance system serve its purpose? Will it make Europe safer? We, Investigate Europe, a team of nine journalists from eight different countries, have tried to find answers to those questions. For two months, we have talked with over 200 border guards, investigators, military personnel, police, law experts, researchers, engineers, EU officials, doctors, municipal employees and politicians. The results are alarming:
- for Europe’s new border control project in the years leading up to 2020, six billion Euros will be needed from the EU budget and about the same amount from the national budgets, with no demonstrable benefits;
- the European Commission and the national governments want to abolish fundamental privacy laws and store citizens’ personal data on a massive scale without judicial control;
- the European Commission has directed its policy almost exclusively towards the interests of the security and arms industry, and allows their representatives to influence decisions and law-making processes despite massive conflicts of interest in advisory boards
We started publishing across Europe Saturday, 10th of December. Click on the links below to read more about our revelations in your national language.
Norway: (Aftenposten, Aftenbladet, Adresseavisen, Bergens Tidende, Faedrelandsvennen): Grenseløs kontroll by Ingeborg Eliassen.
Italy: Great webfeature by Maria Maggiore via Corriere della Sera. She describes the system and its cost: “Il grande afar della sicurezza europea – Ecco quanto si spendi per i controlli” She illustrates it with graphics and videos.
Spain: Paulo Pena via Spanish Info Libre. How the EU surrenders to security lobby’s plans – “La UE se entrega a los planes del lobby de las empresas de seguridad”
Portugal: Paulo Pena published his big piece in Público on how migrant fear puts the EU in the hands of the security lobby. It is a web feature with videos and graphics: “Europa, a ultima fronteira”.
Poland: Big spread in Newsweek Polska by Wojciech Ciesla: “Lobby zbrojeniowe decyduje, jak będą wyglądać granice UE.” – Industry lobby decides how the EU borders will look like. Free online version available.
Germany: Free online version of the Tagesspiegel dossier. Written by Harald Schumann and Elisa Simantke. “Sicherheitspolitik: Europa plant den Überwachungsstaat” – How Europe is building a surveillance state
Belgium (in english): EU Observer published an investigative piece by Crina Boros covering the EU Commission’s conflicts of Interest: “How the EU cosied up to the defense lobby”
Norway and Portugal: Ingeborg Eliassen reports about “Operation Sophia” a real Mission impossible in the Mediterranean. This report was also published by Portuguese Público with an additional part on the Portuguese situation by Paulo Pena. The English version is available on our website.
Greece: A 45 minutes documentary by Vice Greece and Antenna TV was aired at the 7th of january. So far its online version is restricted to viewers from greece, but unrestricted access via the Vice platform will be granted soon.
Norway: A huge spread in A-Magasinet by Ingeborg Eliassen on the conscientious local public officials and volunteers in Lesbos, Greece, who register and bury unknown refugees – and why the EU shows little interest in counting the dead. Aftenposten and Aftenbladet also published a second article about the role of the Norwegian Frontex ship ”Siem Pilot” in registering the dead and why the EU shows no interest in this kind of statistics.
Portugal: Collaborative work by Ingeborg Eliassen and Paulo Pena in Portuguese Público. Big web feature on how the dead refugees in the Mediterranean are (purposefully) not counted on a European level – and how some local civil servants and activists nevertheless try to humanize and oversee this tragedy.
USA: The in-depth research by Ingeborg Eliassen published by US-based News Deeply Refugees Deeply) – in English.