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Overview of EU’s Border Security and Involvement of the Defence Industry

EU13 Sep 15. FRONTEX, the EU’s external borders agency, has revealed that it will receive a 54 per cent budget hike in 2016. The announcement was made by the executive director of FRONTEX on 16 September. During the meeting, officials from FRONTEX also discussed the increasing need to combat illegal trafficking.

The issue of border policing is controversial in Europe as countries and agencies are still finding effective ways to manage the problem. An analysis of some of the developments over the past year suggest that the crisis and related pressures on European countries are leading to increased funding for agencies involved in migrant interdiction, surveillance, and border protection.

It appears that the growing migrant crisis is leading to a shift in the defence industry as well. Peter Wezeman, a senior researcher from SIPRI was quoted in the media as saying, “the current refugee crisis may offer a chance for defence firms to capitalize on an expanding market in border control and surveillance”. Military technology – like satellites, sensors, and drones – is being repurposed to meet rising demands for border and maritime security.

The types of industrial involved in providing various solutions for this crisis are wide-ranging; it includes specialized equipment providers (SMEs primarily) to large prime contractors (like Thales, Finmeccanica, Sagem, Airbus, BAE Systems, among others).  Some of the key technological priorities in recent times have been in biometric detection systems at borders, thermal imaging devices, patrol boats, and remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). The use of RPAS for coastal surveillance is expected to increase, as the industry is likely to benefit from the fact that these operations circumvent EU laws prohibiting unarmed drones from flying in civilian airspace.  A look back at 2014 provides some examples of this trend: for example, the European Commission was reported to be developing UAVs in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries and Austrian company Diamond Airborne Sensing.

Involvement of European Navies

European navies are increasingly committing assets for surveillance operations in the Mediterranean. Most recently, the UK announced that it would deploy a Type-23 frigate (HMS Richmond) carrying one Lynx helicopter and a Scan Eagle surveillance drone. The deployment supports the EUNAVFOR MED which currently includes naval vessels of Germany and Italy.

The EUNAVFOR MED was launched in mid-2015 with a mandate of 12 months. It was launched with a shared cost of about EUR12 million to support the deployment of a number of military assets including warships, helicopters, submarines, reconnaissance aircraft, and unmanned systems.

The EUNAVFOR MED countries and navies can make use of integrated maritime solutions provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

The EMSA has also been increasing its capability to provide maritime awareness to member countries. It facilitates integrated maritime operations by allowing member countries to use its integrated vessel reporting position information, such as: terrestrial and satellite Automatic Identification System (AIS), Long Range Identification & Tracking (LRIT), Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), as well as national vessel position data such as coastal radar, patrol assets, and leisure craft.

Related Funding streams

The June 2015 draft budget of the European Commission proposed to reinforce the resource levels of key agencies – such as FRONTEX, European Asylum Support Office (EASO), and EUROPOL, as well as EUROJUST – to meet their additional needs due to migration challenges.

The draft budget provided additional funding for ongoing Triton and Poseidon Operations, strengthened emergency assistance to frontline Member States, funding for an EU-wide resettlement scheme, and reinforces agencies such as FRONTEX and EASO.

  • EUR833 million was allocated for 2016 for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF) – the two main sources of funding
  • EUR9.5 billion (representing an increase of 28.5 per cent) was directed toward supporting the EU’s capacity to respond to external crises – such as those in Ukraine and Syria – and to provide humanitarian help to

those in need.

  • The funding for the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) will be reinforced to EUR2.1 billion (representing an increase of 34 per cent).

FRONTEX has assessed that there is a requirement for improved capabilities    for       detection,

interdiction, surveillance, and rescue. Its annual risk analysis report 2015 revealed that detections of illegal border crossing reached a new height in 2014 with more than 280,000 detections; most of these were reported as part of search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean area.

(Source: MPI – Hawk Information)

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