(presentation at the No Border Camp in Groningen (The Netherlands), 24 August 2023 – workshop with TNI)
Today, wel will talk about the cynical cycle in which the military and security industry profits from the misery of people on the move, with a focus on European policy and companies. It will show that this industry both fuels the reasons forcing people to flee their homes and then profits again, sometimes the same companies, from trying to stop them on their journeys, not seldom with the use of violence and human rights violations.
For this, let’s first have a look at the first step in this cycle: arms exports to countries outside the EU. Figures about this are always running a few years behind, so the most recent decade we know about is from 2011 to 2020. In these ten years EU countries have approved €283 billion worth in arms exports, both within and to outside the EU. The volume of exports has grown considerably since 2015, with a drop during the Covid-19 years. The largest EU arms exporters are Germany, France, Spain and Italy, and before Brexit also the United Kingdom.
There is a legal framework to regulate arms export from the EU, the so-called Common Position. It lists eight criteria, with several sub-criteria, member states should check against when deciding on whether to issue export permits or not. These criteria stipulate for example that arms should not go to countries at war or with internal armed conflicts or be delivered when there’s a clear risk of use for repression or human rights violations. The risk of diverting the arms to unwanted destinations, the regional security situation and the amount of military spending versus social spending in the country of destination are other issues that should be taken in consideration.
Apart from the fact that this regulation still leaves a lot of possibilities for controversial arms exports – if not all arms exports are controversial – in itself, there are hugh differences in the way EU member states implement them, as they are free to give their own twist to them. While some countries are reactively strict in their interpretation of the rules – with the annotation that they are still responsible for many dubious exports some examples are Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden –, others, such as Bulgaria, France and Poland (and in the past the UK), are notorious for allowing almost all exports. The economic interests of the national arms industry are often an important factor in decisions about arms exports, overriding peace and human rights considerations.
Consequently, the list of main destinations of EU arms exports includes many authoritarian regimes, states at war or with internal conflicts and poor countries. The main client since 2011 is Saudi Arabia, despite its internal repression and its leading role in the war in Yemen, where it was responsible for war crimes. And the list of similar problematic destinations is long: Egypt, Algeria, the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand… But also the United States, Brazil, Israel…
While the EU has long presented itself as ‘peace project’ and ‘soft power’ in the world, its arms have always been fueling war and repression around the world.
There are thousands and thousands of larger and smaller European companies active on the military and security market. Many combine military and civil work, some focus on specific components or technologies, others have broader portfolios. The large EU arms companies are members of the main lobby organisation of the European arms industry, the Aerospace, Security and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD). All of these are responsible for significant arms exports to non-EU-countries.
The largest four – Airbus (Transeuropean), BAE Systems (UK), Leonardo (Italy) and Thales (France) – dominate the landscape and also belong to the largest arms companies in the world. They are active in almost all sectors of the military and security market and consist of large conglomerates with many production locations, subsidiaries and joint ventures spread out over countries in- and outside Europe. Other companies focus more on one or a few sorts of arms and technologies. Rheinmetall is for example a leading producer of ammunition, which saw its order books expand enormously since the start of the war in Ukraine.
The arms industry has a very active and successful lobby to further its interests, which is warmly welcomed by the EU and national governments. Arms companies and lobby organisation ASD have many meetings with the European Commission and members of the European Parliament, Commissioners and high-ranking officials participate in conferences and roundtables organised by industry, the industry is invited to give advise on an increasing range of policy issues, there is a special department of the Commission for support to the arms industry, which has also installed a permanent dialogue group between them, industry has published influential white papers and so on.
Industry is always asking for more public money, better access to private money, less arms export restrictions, more long term commitments and more involvement in policy making and strategic processes. This can never be enough, even with current increases in military spending and support measures, it is still complaining and expressing disappointment that it doesn’t get more.
If you think of it, it is really exceptional that an industry is so involved in creating policies for its own benefit. The EU and member states governments have embraced industry representatives as experts on the issues at hand, rather than seeing them for what they really are: salespersons that primarily want to further their own interests, higher revenues and profits. Yet, for example, in The Netherlands the lobby organisation of the arms industry (NIDV) and fifty companies were invited to give input to its long term strategic document from 2020, the Defence Vision 2035, government and industry cooperated on formulating a new policy document on arms industry support last year and minister Ollongren of Defence proposed to give arms companies a direct seat at the table during EU negotations about a new fund for munition production earlier this year.
The EU supports the arms industry with billions of dollars via various instruments, the most important of which is the European Defence Fund. This fund has €8 billion available under the current seven-year EU budget (the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027) to fund military research and the development of new arms and military technologies. The regulation for this fund is based on a advisory report from a so-called Group of Personalities, which was dominated by representatives from the arms industry. The first years of funding, along with smaller pilot programmes, since 2017 have shown that a large share of the funding goes to exactly the companies that were active in this group, which was established by the European Commission. Another example of the succesful selfserving lobby efforts of the industry.
The industry also profits from the €5.7 billion European Peace Facility, which in spite of its nice name is primarily meant to finance EU military operations in Africa and arms donations to non-EU-countries. It is an off-budget fund, meaning that its budget comes directly from member states, as EU money officially can’t be used for this kind of funding. A reminiscent of the EU as a non-military union, which in a few years has been thrown aside completely.
Since the start of the Russian invasion in Ukraine in February last year, the already ongoing processes to increase military spending and support to the arms industry have gained even more momentum. The EU and member states’ governments have used the war to speed up militarisation, expand existing instruments and introduce new ones, while the industry has taken the opportunity to position itself as necessary, the only one that can provide the tools to guarantee security, and push for its interests on a broad spectrum of subjects.
In a series of new policy documents, including the Strategic Compass for Defence and Security of 2022, the EU continuously emphasis the need to strengthen the European arms industry. The EU and its member states have announced at least €345 billion in extra military spending, with a large part earmarked for purchasing arms. The European Peace Facility has been more than doubled, to €12 billion. The European Commission has proposed to increase the budget for the European Defence Fund with €1.5 billion. A measure to stimulate joint procurement of arms by groups of member states, European defence industry Reinforcement through common Procurement Act (EDIRPA), is as good as adopted; with a €500 million budget (coming from the Defence Fund) for this and next year. A more permanent instrument should follow this. And last month, final approval was given to the establishment of the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP), with €300 million to increase the munition production capacities of EU arms companies. This act also encourages member states to push aside environmental, health and safety regulations forming an obstacle to a quick ramping up of these capacities.
These new regulations, as well as the European Defence Fund, are explicitly aimed at what they call ‘strengthening the global competitiveness’ of the EU arms industry. This means: striving for a larger share of the global military and security market, in other words: more arms exports. The shift to what the European Commission has called ‘a war economy’, with the increase in arms production capacities, is meant for the long run: when the war is over and the new demand from EU countries has settled down, the focus will be even more on exports to keep the industry going on the same level.
Hand in hand with this the EU and individual member states are working on easing arms export regulations. There are intentions at EU level to automatically allow arms exports to other EU countries. This would in particular be the case for arms components, which are to be assembled in complete weapons systems for export to non-EU-countries. The driver for this approach is an argument between France and Germany when Germany installed a moratorium on arms exports to Saudi Arabia a couple of years ago. This would also mean that French arms with German components could no longer be provided to that country. This hit a sore spot with France and its arms industry, in particular with French-German company Airbus. That company provided the venue for talks between chancellor Merkel and president Macron, who then concluded an agreement that gave the power to decide about arms exports solely to the country which would export the assembled weapons system. Spain has joined this agreement and last month the Dutch government also announced its intention to do so. This has far reaching consequences, and opens the door for arms companies to arraign their business in a way that the most permissive governments can decide on export permits. A real race to the bottom can ensue, a guarantee for many more extremely controversial arms exports. For The Netherlands about 80% of its annual arms exports consist of components, in the longer term this could mean that it would almost completely give up its own arms export control possibilities.
The rising popularity of the arms industry also works through in other ways. The industry is for example lobbying to be recognized as ‘inherently sustainable’, to be able to have access to private money from banks, pension funds, insurance companies and so on, even as part of sustainable development indexes. Their twisted logic for this is that there can be no sustainability without security first. Meanwhile, armed forces and the arms industry are large emitters of greenhouse gasses, and work to sustain fossil fuel based economies by guaranteeing access of the Global North to resources, at the cost of people and planet. And when there is trouble in getting to these resources, for example certain raw materials for the defence industry for which the current sanctions against Russia and Belarus form an obstacle, there are for example plans to start mining in the EU itself.
Arms exports and migration
The billions of euros worth in EU arms exports each year contribute to war, internal armed conflicts, repression, human rights violations, poverty, environmental destruction and climate change around the world. All factors that drive people from their homes and force them on the move.
According to the UNHCR, at the end of next year, 108.4 million people worldwide were forcible displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order; 19 million more than a year before. Almost 60% of them stay within the same country, the ‘internally discplaced people’. Of the people who moved abroad, 70% remains in neighbouring countries. So, only a small percentage moves further away. And while countries who often have a lot of problems themselves – 20% of the refugees in the world is hosted by the 46 ‘least developed countries’ for example – disproportionally shelter people, it are the rich countries in the global north, exactly the ones who are responsible for many of the root causes forcing people to flee, that scream blue murder about the ‘flows’ of refugees that manage to reach their borders.
This translates into ever expanding border security and control infrastructures at and beyond these borders. And, unsurprisingly, it is again the military and security industry that profits from this by providing the arms, surveillance equipment and biometrics systems for these infrastructures.
Border industrial complex
In this talk we will focus on these aspects – border security and control – but it good to realise that whole picture of the border industrial complex encompasses more sectors, such as companies building and running detention centers, airlines hired for deportation flights [which you can learn more about during the workshop by Stop the War on Migrants on … at …] and consultancy companies that advise on, evaluate and audit policies and projects to refine the anti-immigration machinery.
The total size of the global border security market is hard to determine. Estimates by market analysis firms give some insight; these estimates differ, but come down to an average of about €40 billion in 2023, with an expectation of a 7% to 8% growth in the next years, increasing to €65 to 70 billion in 2027/28. The European market is expected to have an above average growth, to about €17-€18 billion in 2027.
Which companies profit from this growing market? We recognize some that are also on the top of the list of arms producers and exporters, such as Airbus, Thales, Leonardo, Safran and Dassault. Others, like Idemia and Sopra Steria, are regularly awarded large contracts – up to hundreds of millions of euros – for border control systems, in particular EU biometrics databases to store information about people crossing borders.
The large arms companies all have broad portfolios, manufacturing several forms of equipment for use at borders, ranging from traditional equipment like helicopters and patrol vessels to newer applications as drones and other autonomous systems, as well as specialized surveillance, monitoring and detection equipment. Airbus and Leonardo have sold helicopters for border security to many EU and neighbouring countries for example, while shipbuilders as the Italian Fincantieri and Dutch Damen are important providers of patrol vessels. There are also more specialised companies, such as European Security Fencing, that produces the razor wire that is found on many border walls and fences. For a while it promoted itself as the sole provider of this; another producer, a German company, actually refused to sell its products for use on borders, a unique stance.
As a sidenote, it is remarkable that Israeli military and security companies are also particularly popular in the border security and control market, also in Europe. They have the unique characteristic of promoting much of their equipment with stamps as ’tested’, meaning that it has been used against Palestinian people, in close cooperation with Israeli military and security forces.
Similar to military policies, there is a very effective industrial lobby to influence EU border and migration policies. This lobby goes to the core, as it has been co-shaping the narrative underlying these policies and the accompanying practices: the idea that migration is foremost a security problem, with migrants as threats, that need to be countered by the use of increasingly militarised security means. Coincidentally the goods and services that same industry has on offer.
The ensuing militarised response has turned into a tunnel vision for the EU, with horrible consequences. Fortified borders on land and sea result in more violence against people on the move, in illegal pushbacks and other human rights violations, and in forcing people to use more dangerous routes and the services of sometimes unscrupulous smuggling networks. In fact, the EU itself is creating and expanding the smuggling market it explicitly says to fight against.
Again, in the context of the industrial lobby we see meetings between industry and policy makers at conferences, congresses, security fairs and one-on-one appointments. In 2018 for example the European Commission organised an ‘Industry Day on Border Surveillance and Integrated Border Management’. EU and member states’ officials met up with military and security companies to discuss the future of EUROSUR, the EU border monitoring and surveillance system.
At such occasions, companies keep presenting new, ever more advanced, equipment, riding on governments illusions that they need everything there is available to stop migration, a top priority on their agendas. Also on these issues, industry publishes influential advisory reports.
The expansion of the mandate and size of EU border guard agency Frontex, an ongoing process since the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015, largely follows industry proposals from a few years before that for example. This includes a more authorative coordinating role, where Frontex can oblige member states to boost border security measures, the building up of its own armed Standing Border Guard Corps of 10,000 paramilitary police officers and a larger role in border externalisation, including operations in non-EU-countries.
Previously Frontex was completely dependent on equipment from member states, which often were reluctant to make it available. As part of its mandate expansion Frontex also got the possibility and budget to buy its own equipment, making it more of a target for the arms industry. Before that, relations with industry were already quite close, with Frontex acting as an intermediary between industry and member states’ border authorities. It regularly and with increasing frequency organises industry meetings where selected companies can present their equipment and technologies for a specific part of the border security and control spectrum. In March, Frontex, the European Commission and Europol for example organised the ‘Conference on Innovative Technologies for Strengthening the Schengen Area’. Several companies, including Airbus and Idemia, were present to share “their solutions for various aspects of border management and security”. One of the key takeaways of the conference was to work on increasing cooperation with industry.
Frontex has also indeed started to buy its own equipment, this as quite a slow process, until now it has been restricted to mostly smaller surveillance and detection equipment, such as heartbeat detectors, as well as firearms and batons for its border guard corps. For other equipment it seems to opt for more lease-like contracts. Airbus and Israeli arms companies Elbit and Israeli Aerospace Industries are flying drone surveillance flights over the Mediterranean, under a €50 million contract. In this way they contribute for instance to Frontex’s habit of spotting migrant boats leaving from Libya, informing the Libyan Coast Guard to pull them back and jail the people on the move in the notorious detention centers.
The EU also finances member states to strengthen their border security capacities. For this it has seperate funds, starting with the External Borders Fund (2007-2013), then the Internal Security Fund – Borders and Visa (2014-2020) and now the Integrated Border Management Fund, with its Border Management and Visa Instrument (2021-2027). Budgets have been increasing over time, the IMBF has €6.7 billion available. Countries use a significant part of these funds to purchase equipment, based on national programmes they submit to the European Commission. For the previous funds they were more detailed, but now most of them are quite vague, making it harder to track where the money actually ends up. Lethal arms and the concrete and steel for border walls and fences are excluded from funding – mostly for image reasons – but all other things go: from helicopters and patrol vessels to drones and surveillance systems to biometrics applications.
EU money from other, more broad, funds and instruments also find their way to the military and security industry on the issues of border security and control. Similarly to the European Defence Fund for arms and military technologies, the general research and innovation funds of the EU – the so-called Framework Programmes, with the current version ‘Horizon Europe’ – include many projects for border security issues, implemented by consortia consisting of companies, border authorities, police forces, research institutes and universities. This includes a whole range of new technologies, including very controversial ones as the development of an AI-based lie detector to interrogate people on the move at borders, setting up a network of sensors to detect people crossing borders in areas which are hard to reach for conventional border patrol means or inventing an autonomous border surveillance system consistings of swarms of unmanned mobile robots.
EU candidate member states can get funding from the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA II) to bring their border security and control capacities up to EU wishes, which are even stricter for subsequent accession to the Schengen Area.
And next to Frontex there is another EU agency, eu-LISA, for the management of large scale IT-systems, including the several biometrics-based identity databases for border control. For the development, operation and maintenance of these databases eu-LISA awards large contracts to a small set of IT and biometrics companies.
Earlier this year European Commission president Von der Leyen and the Italian and Dutch prime ministers concluded an EU-Tunisia migration cooperation agreement. This is just one of many similar agreements with and projects in dozens of non-EU-countries. Often, these agreements and projects include donations of border security and control equipment, or money to buy these.
Some remarkable examples:
- donations of large amounts of border security equipment from Airbus and Hensoldt to Tunisia by Germany;
- several donations of patrol ships from Italian ship builders to Libya by Italy;
- money as part of the migration deal with Turkey to strengthen its border security, used for example to buy patrol boats;
- funding for the construction of migrant detention centers in Ukraine, done by UK companies;
- funding for setting up fingerprint databases for the whole populations of Mali and Senegal, a tool to identify and deport people on the move from those countries, implemented by Civipol, a joint venture between the French state and several large French arms companies.
And there is more to come: Under the new deal, Tunisia wants for example patrol boats and drones. And earlier this month the European Commission confirmed that it had opened a contract procedure to donate two patrol vessels to Egypt, at an estimated cost of €23 million. Next to this, 10% of the EU Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), about €8 billion, has been earmarked for ‘migration management’ purposes in non-EU-countries.
The goal of all these donations, and the agreements and projects they are part of, is clear: turning the non-EU-countries into outpost border guards for the EU, to prevent the arrival of people on the move at the EU external borders in the first place. Regularly, this means both more violence against migrants, more out of sight of the eye of European public and press, and providing tools to authoritarian regimes that don’t hesitate to use them for repression against their own population as well. The EU has no scruples in doing so: it even discussed providing surveillance equipment to the Al Bashir dictatorship in Sudan, which openly said it would also use it for internal purposes. Only after NGO’s protested this, getting media attention, this part of the cooperation was withdrawn. Meanwhile, for the arms companies involved these donations open up contacts with possible new clients for arms and security equipments in a broader perspective.
There are many new agreements between the EU and/or specific member states and non-EU-countries; next to Egypt and Tunisia, that’s also the case for for example Libya, Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania; for the latter two there also negotiations about future Frontex operations on their soil. Meanwhile, new walls or fences have been built, are under construction or planned on the borders of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with Belarus and/or Russia. With regard to the Polish-Belarussian border the concept of ‘weaponisation’ has been introduced, a step above the securitisation narrative, in which people on their move are not only presented as threats but as weapons themselves, with the goal of destabilizing other countries; a case of dehumanisation in upper form.
The Common European Asylum System, for which after years of difficult negotations between EU member states the EU Council reached an agreement in June this year, includes many aspects that will lead to further border militarisation. Mandatory detention of asylum seekers from so-called ‘safe countries’ at the EU external borders for example increases the incentive to stop as many people on the move at these borders.
And the European Commission proposal for a mid-term review of the current EU budget includes “A reinforcement of the EU budget to address internal and external dimensions of migration as well as needs arising from the global consequences of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, and to strengthen partnerships with key third countries with €15 billion.” An increase with about 60% of the current budget, with a specific emphasis on “control of the external borders”.
Similar to what happened regarding militarisation and support to the arms industry in general, the war in Ukraine has been used as an excuse to further border militarisation and expansion of Frontex’ mandate. Frontex has become active in Moldova, under the pretense of helping with receiving refugees from Ukraine, but based on a new cooperation agreement that includes the general goal of strengthening border security and preventing irregular migration. To no surprise, this has been elevated to the main goal of the ongoing Frontex operation in the country. This also includes equipment donations to Moldovian border authorities. A larger amount of equipment has also been donated to the Ukranian State Border Guard, both under the longer-existing EU Border Assistance Mission, which also has been given new operational powers on the Ukranian borders, and as a part of a prolonged, and extended, cooperation agreement with Frontex, which also hints on future Frontex operations in Ukraine. The EU message to Ukraine is clear: amidst the war don’t forget to guard the borders with the EU to stop people on the move from crossing. Meanwhile, some of the EU-funded detention centers are still in use: people on the move keep being locked up there, sometimes with the fighting literally on the doorstep.
There is a strong connection, a triade, between the issues of militarisation/arms trade, borders and climate change. Discussing that would be a whole workshop in its own, for example about how arms production and armed forces worsen climate change with emissions, which fall outside international agreements to counter climate change, that militarisation in the Global North for a large part has to do with the goal of guaranteeing access to fossil fuel and other resources, how climate change will increasingly be a driver for conflict and forced displacement and how countries in the Global North put more effort in building militarised border infrastructures to keep climate change related migrants out than into prevention, mitigation and adaptation regarding climate change. In general it comes down to how the Global North tries to stabilize and expand its own military and economic power position in the world, while ruining it for the rest and the planet.
It is good to see that that there are industrial connections as well. Fossil fuel companies contract military and security companies for example, to secure their business operations. There is overlap between board members and high executives and, like with migration, they present themselves as experts on climate change, for example by talking about illusionary green weaponry, but mostly to push for militarised responses to deal with its consequences.
Finally, on the information side, let’s have a quick look at a few important Dutch players on the international military and border security and control markets. In general, the Netherlands for many years now has a stable position among the top 15 largest arms exports in the world, with in current years an annaul export with a value of about €1 billion. Most of this consists of arms components, as mentioned.
Both Airbus and Thales have locations in The Netherlands. For Airbus this is mainly its official head office, which is based in Leiden. This location has everything to down with Dutch tax policies which are very generous for multinational companies and have also spurred various large US arms companies to have letterbox companies on the Zuidas, the main business center in Amsterdam. Some years ago a colleague of mine calculated that, because of these tax evasion possibilities, one of every two dollars globally earned with weapon production has a connection to financial structures based in the Netherlands.
Thales has several production locations in The Netherlands, as it used to be a separate Dutch company (Hollandse Signaalapparaten) before it was acquired by the French arms giant. Its main location is in Hengelo, where it produces radars and weapons systems. Thales also bought digital identity and security company Gemalto, involved in border control systems, which is now Thales DIS and also has a few locations in the Netherlands.
The other important company is ship builder Damen, which produces both military ships and patrol ships, that are in use by many countries for border patrol, for example a lot of countries in the Mediterannean area, both on the European and the African side. Damen has produced boats to expand the border patrol capacities of Turkey for example, in the slipstream of the EU-Turkey migration deal. The boats were paid for by the EU Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, which was initially meant for conflict prevention and peace, but after another succesful lobby bu the EU arms industry broaded its enveloppe to include security equipment donations to non-EU-countries.
The most controversial sale by Damen has been the provision of patrol ships to the Libyan Coast Guard, which has used those to forcefully intercept migrant boats, sometimes with shooting at migrants or search and rescue boats. Damen exported these boats without even an export permit from the Dutch government, as it had decided itself this wasn’t needed because the boats weren’t of military design. When some investigative journalists discovered this case, the government immediately backed Damen’s claims, going so far as to contact the company to come up with a joint strategy to thwart press attention.
On another level, the relatively small aerial surveillance company EASP Air, located at Schiphol, has earned millions with a string of contracts from Frontex, flying surveillance flights above the Mediterranean.
Many Dutch universities are also one way or another involved in EU-funded research and innovation projects for border security and control purposes or other forms of work in this area. Maastricht University, for example, gives trainings to border guards from African countries, as part of a program funded by the EU and implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). A sort of broker that, like the better known International Organisation for Migration (IOM), can be hired for all kinds of projects in the field of migration, often by Global North countries to implement stricter border security and control policies in countries in the Global South. Despite its presentation as a ‘neutral’ organisation, its controversial role in for example EU border externalisation policies towards Libya and Tunisia has been clearly unmasked earlier this year by a collective of investigative journalists.
This all is a quite depressing story. Realistically you can say that the EU has engraved itself so deep in its current discourse that it is extremely hard to change this course. NGOs and activists can point to the horrible consequences, researchers can show that the policies even aren’t effective to reach the stated goal of the EU – getting the number of people on the move towards Europe down – and that the endlessly increasing amounts of money thrown at continuing and expanding these policies are wasted and taken away from other more useful expenses, the EU stays firmly on the same wave. So, whenever goals aren’t reached, its so-called solutions are further boosting and militarising border security, increasing and refining border control and putting more pressure on non-EU-countries to stop migration earlier on the routes. Meanwhile, more and more people die, drowning in the Mediterranean or left in the desert, or end up stuck in horrible circumstances in unlivable camps, detention centers with violence, torture and lack of medical care, getting deported to unsafe situations or living a precarious life as ‘illegals’.
The enormity of the EU military policies, in particular its arms exports, its militarised border and migration policies and the growing power of the arms industry seems hard to overcome. Especially in these times. Yet, protest and resistance is necessary and possible. All across Europe and beyond there are organisations and groups working against arms production and arms trade and against militarised borders, so there is probably one near you as well. Increasingly, groups are also active on the connections between these issues. Stop the War on Migrants has for example been campaigning against arms companies Airbus and Thales, which have office and/or production locations in The Netherlands. And during protest weeks against the large arms fair DSEI in London, where all large arms companies are present to present their arms and security technologies to military forces, oppressive regimes and imperialist powers all over the world, there is often an action day specificially around the issue of border militarisation.
Abolish Frontex is a network of over 130 groups and organisations in the EU and beyond, that is campaigning, as its name states, to abolish the agency that is the spearhead of the destructive and racist EU border and migration policies, embedded in a broader campaign to end the EU border regime, with its militarised borders, build resistance against the border industrial complex and fight for freedom of movement for everyone.
It is an informal grassroots network, that every non-parliamentary group that supports its demands is very welcome to join and contribute to along to its own capacities and priorities, for example in several working groups. The main focus is organising international action days twice a year, with as many actions in one or a few days in several countries. It is also active on amplyfying each other’s actions, for example via social media and solidarity statements, information exchange, research and analysis and so on. There are regular online general meetings, based on consent decision making. ‘Abolish Frontex’ was also the main theme of the No Border Camp last year in Rotterdam.