European Union (EU)

The Business of Militarized Borders in the European Union

Theodore Baird1

A number of scholars, journalists, and activists have argued that we may be witnessing the development of a ‘security-industrial complex’ in Europe which resembles the earlier ‘military-industrial complex’ of the Cold War. The border security-industrial complex refers to the relations between military, security, and private industry within a global market for the design and implementation of border security technologies. The main actors are governments, suppliers of security technologies, and security forces demanding use of new technologies for controlling and managing state borders.

Europe is at war against an imaginary enemy

Stephanie Demblon

“Europe is at war against an imaginary enemy” - this is Frontexit’s campaign slogan regarding the respect of migrants’ human rights at the borders of the European Union. Usually addressed from a humanitarian angle (guilty of negligence to basic migrant rights) or a political one (the question of migratory flux management and distribution), the subject is rarely connected to the European arms market. And yet…

Arming the European Union?

By Wendela de Vries

“Secure societies – Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.”

Last year, the powerful DG Trade and Enterprise of the European Commission published a study on the European arms industry. The 'strategy for a stronger and more competitive European defence industry' stresses the need for a strong European arms industry, not only to provide security but first and foremost because the Commission considers the arms industry a great technological innovator and employment generator. According to the Commission, military research should be stimulated with EU money, and export regulation (“unnecessary red tape”) should be kept to a minimum. There was even the proposal to use the Commission as 'launching costumer' for new military products. When reading this Communication one can only conclude that the lobby of the European defence industry – by organisations like AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe - has been very effective.

WRI signs ENAAT statement: European Union must end its military support for Israel

As the conflict in the Gaza Strip continues to escalate, and the body count continues to increase, the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) has called for an immediate end to all European military support for Israel and for the EU to declare a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties in conflict. Pending such an embargo, all EU states must immediately suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and ammunitions to the parties in conflict.

EU, Business as usual?

On 19th and 20th December, European leaders met in Brussels. During the summit, the fortification of the European arms industry was explicitly on the agenda. While it preaches austerity across the board, the EU is poised to increase military expenditure. The goal: to safeguard the 'global competitiveness' of the European arms industry.

Campaign of the Month: Ctrl+Alt+EU

European president Herman Van Rompuy has put military Europe high on the political agenda. Only three months after receiving the Nobel peace prize, he concluded a speech at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency (EDA) as follows: “Europe was born out of the ashes of a war. And built, at first, by pooling (and sharing!) the instruments of war: coal and steel […]. The European Union stands by those in pursuit of peace and human dignity. To fulfil such responsibilities, we should make sure we have the means at our disposal.”

Peace activists take action against the militarisation of Europe

On October 7th, activists from Vredesactie and Agir pour la Paix were taking action against the European Commission. Posing as arms dealers they hosted a Thank You EU reception in a pool of blood. “The arms dealers thank the EU for its generous support”, was the message. With the action Vredesactie and Agir pour la Paix draw attention to the growing militarisation of the European Union. They also denounce the grip of the arm industry on EU policy.

Freedom Flotilla - solidarity from words to action

Jørgen Johansen

The illegal blockade of Gaza has been condemned by most major international actors. The horrible consequences of this brutal violation of humanitarian law are unacceptable from every point of view. One and a half million people interned on the small strip (45 square km) between Israel, the Mediterranean, and Egypt. The blockade has reduced the transport of goods to and from Gaza by 80%.

Europe's oldest embargo - arms sales to superpower China

Frank Slijper

After the bloody suppression of protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, the European Union (and the US) ordered an arms embargo that applies until today. From a human rights perspective this is fully justified: the situation remains appalling and attempts at democratic reforms are nipped in the bud. At the same time the embargo is also clearly politically motivated, to keep China as small as possible in military terms. While the economic relationship with China has grown, military co-operation rightly remains a thorny issue. Despite cracks in the embargo it won't be off the table any time soon. Yet it is a question how long the blockade will be maintained with China strengthening its power base.

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