Fortress Europe: The war against migrants

Issue: 148

Fran Cetti

Fran Cetti’s article was written at the time of the European response to the Mediterranean tragedies during the summer and early autumn of 2015. These continue but have been overshadowed by many thousands of refugees, many from Syria, arriving in Europe via the western Balkans. Apart from Hungary, whose right-wing government has been struggling to keep to the (brutal) letter of the common European immigration and asylum rules, these appear to have for the moment been challenged by the determination and desperation of these forced migrants and by the extraordinary upswell in support among ordinary people across Europe. This pushed Angela Merkel initially to respond by overturning the Dublin Regulation. The German government said it expected to receive 800,000 (Syrian) asylum seekers this year.

But then, ahead of the EU summit on 14 September to discuss binding quotas for refugees across Europe, Germany effectively suspended the Schengen agreement by closing its borders to more refugees. This underlines that, despite the extraordinary events of the late summer, the racist migration management agenda hasn’t gone away. The idea of “regional resettlement” of refugees close to where they have fled, and the epithet “economic migrant”, will no doubt be deployed more rigorously in an effort at future exclusion.

This does not alter the significance of what has happened in the past few months. Migrants and refugees—not just in central Europe but also in Calais—have acted collectively with increasing vigour, and have evoked solidarity right across Europe. 12 September saw mass rallies in support of migrants in London and Copenhagen. These developments represent a powerful challenge to both official racism and the populist and fascist right. We will analyse these more closely in future issues of this journal.

The contradiction between Europe’s avowedly fundamental principles of human rights and the scenes witnessed in the Mediterranean this year could not be more stark. Yet many on the left persist in their attachment to the European Union, primarily because of its rhetorical commitment to internationalism, workers’ rights, and in particular, human rights, which are in theory guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Its common asylum and immigration policies and border control practices, however, paint a very different picture: they reveal that, when it comes to the human rights of those fleeing poverty and war, the European Union does not even attempt to underwrite its rhetorical claims. On the contrary, it bears direct responsibility for the deaths of thousands.

Control of its common external border has been a core issue of European politics at least since the Maastricht Treaty heralded the official birth of the EU in 1992. And border controls continue to increase in importance. The more the leaders of its member states use the EU as an arena for their domestic political battles and the more vociferous their nationalist rhetoric, the more the EU as a whole seeks to cohere around the idea of the exclusion of a common “enemy”. This began to play an even more pivotal role with the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, which brought with it the threat of a fracturing eurozone and the attempt to impose austerity measures across the continent. This was coupled with the rise of the far-right, whose racist agenda is driving the anti-immigrant policies of Europe’s mainstream politicians. The EU routinely violates the human rights of migrants precisely because the European project demands an internal harmony that is premised first and foremost on exclusion.

This exclusionary agenda is a sharp reminder of Europe’s 20th century past. Hannah Arendt, describing the plight of Europe’s 12 million stateless “displaced persons” in the aftermath of the Second World War, wrote: “Not the loss of specific rights, then, but the loss of a community willing and able to guarantee any rights whatsoever, has been the calamity that has befallen ever-increasing numbers of people”.1 The relevance of this remark to the current situation is all too apparent. The rising death toll in the Mediterranean (more than 2,000 in the first seven months of this year alone) has been met with the spectacle of a long, drawn out bargaining process between member states over the “relocation” of a tiny minority—a proposed 40,000 over two years.2 This would comprise just 24,000 of the estimated 100,000 migrants to have made the treacherous crossing from Libya to Italy this year to August, and 16,000 of the 48,000 estimated to have arrived in Greece from January to May.3 Britain, Hungary and Austria have refused to participate, while other member states continue to argue over numbers.4 The final agreement could see little more than 20,000 “resettled” in Europe, but not even this is assured as the scheme is voluntary and there are discussions over the possibility of drawing up a list of “safe third countries” outside the European Union for “resettlement” purposes.5 In the case of migration across the Mediterranean there is already a whole series of agreements drawn up by the EU and its individual member states delegating border control to neighbouring “third countries” such as Turkey and the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Meanwhile, migrants are also reaching Europe using other routes, and member states are reacting with increasingly authoritarian measures. Those gathered in the huge camp in Calais, seeking to cross the Channel to Britain, have been met by a swelling police presence and the erection of more fences. Macedonia (an EU candidate) tried to close its southern border, forcing desperate families to scale barbed wire fences in the face of tear gas and armed guards. It was finally forced to allow the migrants to continue their journey, but Hungary (an EU member) is rapidly erecting a fence along its border with Serbia to prevent them traveling further.

This reaction echoes the earlier nationalist retrenchment of Western states during the period that witnessed the rise of the Nazis. Jewish refugees, crammed into barely seaworthy ships, were labelled “illegal immigrants” and denied entry to Britain, France and the United States—a decision sealed at the 1938 Evian Conference, when Western governments effectively abandoned Germany’s and Austria’s Jews, arguing that their countries were already “saturated” with Jewish refugees.

The 1951 Refugee Convention was drafted by the United Nations ostensibly in reaction to the catastrophic consequences of this decision, although its agenda was driven more by the desire to minimise wealthy Western states’ commitments to the world’s displaced populations. As Phil Marfleet shows, it produced a strictly limited legal notion of the “refugee”, narrowly defined as the victim of specific forms of political persecution.6 However, the convention’s main principle of “non-refoulement” (forbidding the return or expulsion of refugees to a place where their lives or freedoms would be at risk) is now a recognised component of customary international law and considered binding on all states. Yet the category of “refugee” has always been mutable, and states continue to make, unmake or ignore refugee law according to their political and economic interests. The EU’s member states are no exception. Jennifer Hyndman and Alison Mountz argue that the EU, in actively pursuing its policy of exclusion, is currently carrying out what they term “neo-refoulement”—that is, “the return of asylum seekers and other migrants to transit countries or regions of origin before they reach the sovereign territory in which they could make a claim” for protection.7

The birth of Fortress Europe and its fatal consequences

Although neo-refoulement may appear to be a recent development, its underlying principles are the cornerstone of the policy known as “Fortress Europe”. The ground for its adoption, however, was prepared in the global recession of the 1970s—nearly two decades before the official birth of the European Union—when so-called “legal” avenues for immigration from the Global South were drastically curtailed by the richer European economies. As Matthew Carr notes, alongside the tightening of visa regimes, asylum seekers (virtually the only migrants still allowed to enter these countries as potential convention refugees) came to be increasingly portrayed as “economic migrants”. This characterisation meant that those seeking asylum in Europe rapidly became enshrined in political rhetoric as a “sub-category of refugee whose claims were suspect”.8

The ideological rationale, therefore, lay ready for the establishment of Fortress Europe when the implementation of the Schengen agreement in 1995 opened Europe’s internal borders. Internal freedom of movement, frequently celebrated as one of the EU’s most positive attributes, was accompanied by the hardening of the common external border against migrants from outside the continent. Only a few years later, in 1998, the Austrian government, who held the presidency of the EU at the time, produced a strategy paper claiming that the Refugee Convention had become “less applicable to the problem situations actually existing”,9 signalling the direction of European immigration and asylum policy.

The 1990s therefore witnessed the design of a common European agenda “harmonising” and “securitising” member states’ immigration policies and practices in defence of the external border. Member states have exhibited an unprecedented degree of collaboration in this enterprise—a level of cooperation that is lacking in almost every other EU policy area. The idea of such a border is essential to the ideological construction of a specific “European” identity, distinguished by a fabled commitment to democracy, the rule of law and Enlightenment principles. This supra-nationalist myth, however, is a fragile one, partly because it is built on denial of the fact that most European nations have long and complex histories, encompassing the continuous incorporation of “outside” influences and the intermingling of different linguistic, religious and ethnic traditions. The ideology of a common border has also proved unable to sublimate the strident nationalist rhetoric of individual nation states, a consequence of the internal competition between Europe’s outwardly unified capitalist partners. The struggle to ensure that the economic union of Europe’s capitalist classes is underwritten by popular credibility has always proved elusive, and the turn to “securing” the border has arisen in part from this struggle.

“Securitisation”, as the term suggests, refers to the redirection of Europe’s common immigration and asylum agenda, which is theoretically underwritten by refugee law and international human rights obligations, into the opaque and unaccountable security sphere. The EU’s fundamentally undemocratic structure has ensured that this transformation, beginning in the 1990s and accelerated since 9/11, has mainly taken place under the public radar. Securitisation has insinuated the highly secretive and authoritarian nature of all (notionally exceptional) security measures into the everyday application of Europe’s external border controls. It has enabled the European border to be extended far beyond its geographical origins into the high seas and neighbouring countries’ territorial waters, deep into other regions and continents, and even into global cyberspace.

The border itself is therefore difficult to locate, comprising as it does a “distributed network of a myriad of checkpoints, technologies and actors, which can be situated inside or outside a given state territory”.10 But although this helps obscure the abuse that inevitably arises from this policy, it is nonetheless a routine occurrence: violence and death are inherent to the securitised, privatised, neoliberal nature of Europe’s border regime. With the Mediterranean crisis a window opened, briefly revealing its consequences, as images of foundering boats and people struggling in the sea, and the knowledge of hundreds of unmarked graves littering the coasts of Italy and Greece, spread to a wider public.

European politicians are still struggling to close this window, and thrust these migrants back to more hidden areas, such as the detention centres of North Africa. The initial “humanitarian” response to the crisis (the idea of offering “resettlement” to a tiny minority) was swiftly diverted by a number of member states, led by Britain, into proposals for a military reaction, deploying warships, helicopters and reconnaissance drones to “identify, capture and destroy” the Libyan fishing boats that could potentially be used by “people smugglers” to transport migrants to Italy’s coast. Even the EU’s military planners were wary of this, anticipating the public relations costs of the high risk of “collateral damage” and the political ­problems involved in breaching Libya’s sovereignty. The proposals appear to have been quietly placed aside, at least for the time being. But the aim of the policy, clearly stated by British home secretary Theresa May, who vowed to “go after the criminal gangs [in order to] break the link between people getting into boats and reaching Europe” and to concentrate on “returning people to North Africa or elsewhere, or to their home countries; so that they see that there is no merit in this journey”,11 summarises the EU’s “migration management” strategy. The military package was promoted among European electorates through a sleight of hand, whereby the migrants risking their lives in the Mediterranean were recast as victims not of European immigration practices, but of the smugglers these practices force them to turn to. Smuggling was likened to a “new slave trade”.12

The danger of this manifestly false analogy is clear: the terms “smuggling” and “trafficking” are deployed interchangeably and this elision has opened the way for EU leaders to present the use of military force on the North African coast as a moral imperative rather than an attempt to use violence to prevent desperate people from landing in Europe. It is true that criminal outfits are profiting from migrants’ desperation and lack of alternative ways of reaching their destination, but these people are not being forcibly transported (trafficked) to Europe—“if they were free to do so, they would be taking advantage of the flights that budget airlines operate between North Africa and Europe at a tiny fraction of the cost of the extraordinarily dangerous sea passage”.13 Many forced migrants, from the Jews in 1930s Germany on, have been compelled to “buy their right to freedom” in this way.14 The more real danger is the one identified by Francesco Rocca,15 head of the Italian Red Cross—that they will end up trapped in Libya.

The conflict in Libya has intensified throughout 2015, and all international organisations have moved their foreign staff out of the country, yet the EU’s anti-smuggling plan could lead to thousands of “the most vulnerable people in Libya”16 remaining trapped amid the violence and chaos. For many years, Libya was both a destination and a transit country for migrants from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, and home to many established migrant communities, now forced to flee across the Mediterranean in the face of an eruption of violent anti-black racism. The lack of any viable routes to safety in Europe has meant that Syrian refugees are also forced to travel across Libya, particularly as Tunisia and Egypt have tightened their border restrictions, fearing a spill-over from the conflict.

A 2015 report by Amnesty International has outlined the dangers migrants face by staying in Libya, including torture, rape, abduction and murder.17 Amnesty also details the abuses that take place in Libyan detention centres, many of which were set up with European money (from the multi-million euro migration management projects) that flowed into the country during the period of Muammar Gaddafi’s close relationship with Western European states, particularly Italy. Thousands of men, women and children continue to face indefinite imprisonment in these migration jails, now run by militias. Women are especially vulnerable, both inside and outside the centres: they are routinely subjected to sexual violence. Despite all the evidence, however, European leaders have implicitly decided to “push back” migrants to Libya rather than allow them entry into Europe.

The UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has been forthright in his condemnation, claiming that the EU could easily take in one million migrants, a number that would represent barely 0.2 percent of its population. In comparison, up to 26 percent of Lebanon’s population is made up of Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Responding to the political rhetoric about “people smuggling” and “illegal immigrants”, Al Hussein noted, “when people are unable to use regular channels to escape oppression, violence and economic despair, they may attempt, in desperation, to find irregular ones… The resources currently deployed for ineffective border control systems could instead be invested in maximizing the benefit of regular migration channels”.18

A vast amount of financial resources, military hardware and sophisticated surveillance equipment has indeed been dedicated to prosecuting an asymmetric “war” by the world’s largest economy (its member states include 15 of the 20 wealthiest countries) against a relatively small number of migrants from the world’s poorest, most violent regions. This vastly disproportionate response rarely fulfils its stated purpose—desperation forces many migrants to continue to attempt to cross the border no matter what the cost, and the smugglers oblige by changing their itineraries to increasingly hazardous routes. It was the EU’s “success” in disrupting the routes from Morocco to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and then to the Canary Isles, that forced migrants’ boats into the treacherous crossing from Libya to Malta, and then from Libya to the former Italian prison island of Lampedusa.

Meanwhile, increased surveillance and joint naval patrols in the Aegean have forced many migrants travelling through Turkey to attempt to cross the Evros River at the country’s remote, heavily militarised land border with Greece, a journey also fraught with danger. But it is the Mediterranean—now one of the most militarised oceans in the world—that continues to be “the world’s most lethal graveyard”.19 Even Fabrice Leggeri, director of Frontex,20 the European agency at the heart of the attempts to “secure” the external border, admits that closing one route simply leads to the opening of another, noting that migration routes “are extremely flexible and can change rapidly”.21 However, any official recognition of the systemic contradictions of this border regime is silenced by the huge financial profits to be made within the security-asylum industrial juggernaut, its articulation with other aspects of the EU’s neoliberal order, and the ideological benefits it appears to offer national politicians.

The roots of the current crisis

The migrants crossing the Mediterranean are but a small part of a wave of global displacement that topped 50 million last year, leading to what the UN has called the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.22 Its origins are not hard to discover. The people arriving at Europe’s outer borders are the frontline victims of neoliberalism. The majority, particularly those from North Africa, are escaping the devastation wrought in their countries by more than 30 years of neoliberal policies. These policies, however, cannot be separated from the wars and conflicts that are, in many cases, the most immediate cause of the current wave of displacement.

In the last five years more than 15 conflicts have erupted or been reignited across the world, from Syria, Iraq and Libya to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and the Ivory Coast, all generating significant numbers of refugees.23 Topping the 2015 rankings of the most war-torn countries are Syria, Libya and Sudan—an index of where many refugees originate from. The largest group of migrants arriving on the Mediterranean coast in 2015 comprises Syrians, followed by Eritreans and Somalis, and those fleeing Afghanistan.24 The people of the Middle East and North Africa have borne the highest cost of this upsurge in violence, particularly during the last year. The Western invasions in 2003 violently precipitated the unravelling of their countries (punctuated by the hope ignited by the Arab Spring and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution).

The derailment of the revolutionary upsurge and the victory of reaction in Egypt opened the way for the region’s descent into a series of increasingly destructive conflicts, inflamed by both covert and overt ­interventions by Western governments. The biggest driver of migration has been the four-year war in Syria—by the end of 2014 there were 3.88 million Syrian refugees scattered across the Middle East and beyond, and 7.6 million internally displaced people. According to the UN, one in every five displaced persons in the world is from Syria. Europe, by contrast, is the most peaceful region in the world—yet it is not Europe but Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia and Jordan (closely followed by Kenya, Chad and Uganda) that are the major refugee-hosting countries.25

However, conflict generates profits as well as refugees—and the global industry that has outperformed on a spectacular scale, even throughout the economic crisis, has been the security industry.26 According to the Global Peace Index,27 wars cost the global economy £9.21 trillion last year: more than £1.9 trillion of this was direct military spending, while 13.4 percent of global GDP, equal to the combined economic output of Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Britain and Brazil, was spent on costs associated with war. The conflicts fuelled by this expenditure have decimated the economies of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and the longer the fighting is prolonged, the graver their economic problems.

The fact many countries are locked into intractable, long-term conflicts adds to the effects of the vast global disparities in income levels, health, education and life expectancy between countries and regions. These disparities have soared over the last 30 years of neoliberal policies, reaching a point today when they have never been higher. Poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity have been entrenched in these countries by decades of debt “restructuring” imposed by Western states and financial institutions. The collapse of local economies and of formal and informal systems of survival in many countries in the Global South, and the unrelenting rise in rural dispossessions and urban unemployment, both generate and are compounded by conflict and insecurity.

The idea therefore that “genuine” refugees can be differentiated from “economic migrants” is, and always has been, specious: in a sense, all migration from these areas of the world is forced migration. This is not to deny people’s agency, but their choices are often limited in the extreme. The decision to spend your family’s life savings to fund a high-risk journey that could last years and may result in death is not one taken lightly—and the reality is that very few of the many millions affected by war and poverty choose, or can afford to choose, to do so. The vast majority stay close to home. Those few who are forced into the Mediterranean route are already victims of the neoliberal policies of the IMF, World Bank and Western creditor nations, as well as of the wars ignited or fuelled by Western states, even before they become the victims of Europe’s border control policies. By criminalising migration and subjecting irregular migrants to relentless persecution, the EU is in effect punishing the victims of the global crimes perpetrated by capital, and by so doing, displacing its own responsibilities for immiseration and mass displacement.

Migrant criminalisation and the rise in racism

Not only does the label “economic migrant” still hold sway in both populist rhetoric and official language, but migrants have been further redefined as “illegal”: unregulated attempts to enter Europe are branded as criminal acts endangering national and regional security. But the identity goes before the intention—to be poor and globally mobile is to be labelled and treated as an “illegal migrant” even before crossing Europe’s external borders. The criminalisation of forced migration has been in process for many decades: Juliet Stumpf has aptly termed the way immigration law has gradually been enmeshed with criminal law “crimmigration”,28 as immigration and asylum policies have become increasingly reliant on the “narratives, norms and practices” of criminology.29

However, it was with the EU’s turn to the War on Terror that the application of the term “illegal” to the majority of migrants, particularly those from the Global South, became commonplace. The environment of heightened security allowed Europe’s common immigration and asylum regime openly to assert the mandate it had implicitly adopted during the course of the 1990s: the interception of irregular migrants before they reach its external borders. With the onset of Europe’s socio-economic crisis, the definition of the irregular migrant as an “illegal” presence gained in salience as an element of popular nationalist mobilisation. As a result, racial patterns of exclusion now radiate both far beyond and deep within Europe’s nation states. As Liz Fekete shows, two Europes now exist side by side: a visible Europe and a shadow Europe. The hidden region comprises a new “underclass” of stateless, rightless irregular migrants in the heart of some of the richest cities in Europe.30

The growing anti-immigrant racism in many European countries has been intensified by the activities of the mainstream politicians. Driven by the need to safeguard global economic interests within their borders, locked onto the path of austerity and committed to a neoliberal agenda, the political leaders of member states are unable to offer their citizens guarantees of social protection or economic security. As a result, their sources of popular legitimation have shrunk until they are, for the most part, grounded in the assurance that they can guard the nation against existential threats. As the European border is now viewed almost exclusively through a security lens, and its policy expressed in a terminology rife with military analogies, this outlook has infected the way the figure of the migrant is constructed. Irregular migrants are portrayed as the very embodiment of insecurity and their interception and return has become the primary rationale of the common European immigration and asylum regime.

This is of course a policy that is pursued elsewhere—most notably in the United States and Australia. When the EU adopted the “Global Approach to Migration” as the basis for its 2009 Stockholm Programme,31 it officially aligned its immigration and asylum process as part of a wider global system. Steve Graham describes its purpose as the defence of a “ubiquitous border that follows a network of ‘global cities’ of the North and economic enclaves in the South rather than the territorial limits of nation-states”.32 The image of the “illegal migrant”, although still framed in nationalist terms, is now based on a global pattern of exclusion: irregular migrants appear to be universally criminalised, regardless of which nation they try to enter.

The relentless rhetoric of “illegality”, coupled with a ruthless system of exclusion and control, has contributed to the rise of populist racist parties, such as UKIP, and neo-Nazi organisations such as Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary. Since 1990 extreme ­anti-immigrant and Islamophobic parties have even entered coalition governments in Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy, and most recently, Denmark. This development reveals one of the internal inconsistencies of the EU’s migration control policies: the leaders of its member states have legitimised the racist anti-immigrant politics of the far-right in ways that threaten to derail the entire European project since these ultra-nationalist movements are profoundly anti-European.33 Despite this, the so-called “fight” against “illegal migration” continues unabated as the EU borrows the language and symbolism of the far-right to define itself as a community of exclusion.34

The controls in place at the EU’s external border, and the xenophobia and racism they help generate, have become a central tool of a pan-European political project to create a collective “European” identity, based on the disruption of solidarity between workers and their division according to national or regional origin. The security agenda has also promoted the extreme vulnerability of those irregular migrants working “illegally” in the economies of the core nation states, rendering them “super-exploitable”. However, it is the ideological value of border controls rather than their arguable economic benefits that carries the most importance: the neoliberal system’s inherent contradictions and often devastating consequences (recently displayed in the draconian austerity measures forced on the Greek population) are displaced onto the figure of the “illegal migrant”. They are placed in stark opposition to national citizens and “legal” residents, while in reality they are forced to inhabit a world where, as Louise Amoore points out, “distinctions between legality and illegality, work and violence are blurred”, and different degrees of immigration status and national entitlements are finely calibrated.35

The neoliberal nature of Fortress Europe

The most common official explanations for the deep-seated sense of insecurity generated by the effects of global capitalism put the emphasis on globalisation’s so-called “dark side”. Apparently this is located mainly in the Global South and comprises a hidden undercurrent of illegality (organised crime or international terrorism).36 In keeping with this picture, the “illegal migrant” is recast as a global security preoccupation. Ben Hayes believes that the creation of this image is linked to an attempt to physically transform Europe into a region structured and controlled by what he calls a “security-industrial complex”.37

The neoliberal environment in which this security apparatus flourishes not only informs the European Union’s economic policies, but also influences the way it operates as a putative “supra-state” structure. Its assertion of a neoliberal agenda (albeit with national variations), under the disciplinary tutelage of an unaccountable European Central Bank, ­underlines its development as an elite, financially driven project, with little or no democratic accountability and subject only to the constraints of the market. As such, it appears to manifest the inherent tendencies of all neoliberal states, not least by privileging global financial capital and promoting corporate power by limiting democratic expression. For example, the EU’s adoption of security techniques to assert state control of mobility entails the selective suppression of the very freedoms and rights believed to inhere in European liberal democracy, in particular freedom of movement.

The practices of “mobility management”, such as surveillance, detention and deportation, has led Tony Bunyan to assert that the EU is mutating into a “security state”.38 It could be argued, though, that the ease with which this appears to be happening reveals that it has always displayed such tendencies, particularly in its focus on border control. Ad hoc intergovernmental organisations on immigration control, terrorism and policing, such as the Trevi Group of Ministers, emerged with the Trevi Accords (1975). Under the Maastricht Treaty (1992) these groups were replaced by permanent structures. The Schengen Agreement (1985) and the subsequent 1990 Convention Applying the Schengen Agreement (implemented in 1995) also linked immigration with terrorism and organised crime as part of the move to harden the external border. The Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) then incorporated the Schengen acquis (treaty agreements) into the institutional and legal framework of the EU. The 1995 Barcelona Conference signalled another key moment: it linked the interpenetration of security and migration to the outward reach of Europe’s security agenda by drawing up “development initiatives” with North African and Middle Eastern states, tied to the militarisation of their borders against the “illegal” migration of their nationals to Europe—a template the EU and its member states continue to pursue.39

Schengen unleashed a host of surveillance systems to track, monitor and control those deemed “illegal”, including the creation of a Europe-wide database, the Schengen Information System (a biometrically updated version, SIS II, began operation in 2013). Meanwhile, the Dublin Agreement (2004) introduced Eurodac, a central register of fingerprints of all who claim asylum at the borders of member states, since updated into a vast biometric database. The enforcement of the Dublin Agreement has played a major role in the prolongation of the Mediterranean crisis.

Irregular migrants are often trapped by the Dublin Agreement in countries such as Malta or Greece, whose asylum procedures are ­notoriously deficient, because they are required to place their claim for asylum in the first member state they arrive in. It is hardly surprising that many evade the Eurodac procedure by going underground, and still others resort to desperate measures, such as deliberately damaging their fingertips. Once identified as having first set foot in Europe in a certain country, any attempt to travel further in Europe and claim asylum in another country would carry the risk of deportation. In response, a recent European Commission paper has outlined guidelines on the use of detention and force, including against pregnant women and children, to gather this biometric information.40 At the member-state level, the Dublin Agreement has provoked bitter disputes, with Greece and Italy complaining that their countries are inevitably “overburdened” with asylum claims.

In 2009 the Stockholm Programme also emphasised (in its European Pact on Immigration and Asylum) the central importance of the prevention of “illegal migration” to the European Union’s de facto constitution.41 The Stockholm Programme and the Treaty of Lisbon (2009) concurrently formalised the power of an unaccountable European Commission—Perry Anderson calls the Commission “the EU’s unelected executive”42—and normalised previously exceptional security measures. They have further embedded the EU in a complex, highly opaque structure, comprising multiple tiers of decision making (there are now six or seven, of which only three are visible). The result is that so-called “security” issues concerning immigration and asylum are often decided on at implementation level, relegated to the tiers of “technical” decision making on security procedures that routinely fall outside the purview of the European or national parliaments.43

The ideological recourse to “security” lends a spurious rationale to the secretive nature of the political decisions driving immigration control and its related border technologies, frequently allowing their development and expenditure to proceed in advance of legislation. Access to information concerning these decisions, or even to knowledge that they are taking place, is strictly controlled. It was at the less visible second and third levels of foreign and security policy, for example, that the Stockholm Programme introduced the policy of integrating member states’ national security technology into a single apparatus spanning the region by systematising their databases (as part of its “convergence programme”). The multinationals tasked with developing and implementing these vast integrated systems have gained influence over border control policy proportionate to their control and interpretation of the data they capture, store and process.

The EU, as an elite system of governance, shapes its policies to fit the needs of such transnational corporations and their financial interests; its decisions are rarely subject to any sort of democratic process. As a result, the interests of its member state governments (in particular, their law enforcement and security agencies) and those of transnational corporations have frequently converged. This convergence rapidly turned into an intimate, ongoing relationship after 9/11 when the adoption of the War on Terror released a surge in security spending, research programmes and pilot projects. These years saw the consolidation of security companies into a powerful oligarchy of transnational corporations.

As Bunyan44 points out, although many of the security industry’s technological innovations were close to commercial viability by the end of the 1990s, it was the War on Terror that opened the way for their official incorporation into the European regime of border control. The security and intelligence services of member states were rejuvenated through their close relationship with the private security sector, as well as by the transfusion of huge tranches of state funding into research and development, the introduction of new technologies of surveillance and control, and the induction of an increasing number of new players into the ranks of the security professionals, accompanied by an overt increase in their political influence.45 Its ideology and practices enabled the retrospective justification of the creeping securitisation of European asylum and immigration procedures in train from the 1990s on. Ever since 2001, this securitisation process has been openly avowed and accelerated.

The overlap in technology used by the military, police and security and intelligence services has meant that, as member states harmonise and outsource their immigration and asylum operations, they turn to the private contractors and multinational corporations involved in the lucrative ­security/surveillance sector (such as the pan-European, French-backed Airbus Group, British-based Thales, Italy’s Finmeccanica, France’s Safran and the US-based global corporation GEO Group, America’s second-largest prison contractor). The mutually beneficial relationship between the defence industry, private security companies and European officials has developed apace, privatising the often violent practices of the EU at its borders and awarding the conglomerates with huge profits.46

Migration control not only provides these companies with a seemingly endless flow of public funds and guaranteed access to overseas markets, facilitated by export credits (due to its policy of outsourcing border policing), but also with a prime laboratory in which to develop new technological “security solutions”. As a result defence groups are tied into the fight against “illegal migration” as active participants, not just passive beneficiaries.47 Their representatives have become incorporated into the core of the EU’s border security and migration management systems: they not only coordinate research and development, but increasingly set up its think-tanks, provide technology and personnel, and participate in its special immigration advisory committees. They play a fundamental role in setting Europe’s immigration and asylum agenda, helping direct its policy and manage its activities, and shaping its ideology, rhetoric and rationale.

The “securitisation” of the immigration and asylum regime

The EU’s policy of border management has turned into a technologically sophisticated programme of pre-emptive measures. These include a web of surveillance operations, the “push back” of migrants (notably by Frontex in the Mediterranean), agreements outsourcing the prevention of forced migration to neighbouring countries and countries of “transit and origin”, and the forcible removal of many of those who manage to reach European borders or their incarceration in detention centres. The EU’s ever-increasing detention estate now stretches across the region and far beyond.

The securitisation of the EU’s asylum and immigration regime is currently funded by billions of euros from its seven-year budget.48

The opaque world of Frontex

Frontex, the European Union’s semi-autonomous external border agency, is the keystone of this regime of “integrated border management” and central to the practice of exclusion and expulsion. Lying at the heart of Europe’s policy of prevention—Nina Perkowski49 notes that it has helped push the border south by thousands of kilometres—the agency is paradigmatic of the neoliberal nature of European border control. Established in 2005, it now patrols large stretches of Europe’s southern and eastern borders, with a remit of coordinating the joint operations of member states against irregular migration; producing “risk analyses”; providing “a rapid response capability” with its pooled European Border Guard Teams, coordinating “joint returns” and working with “those countries identified as a source or transit route of irregular migration”.50 It conducts these activities far from the public gaze. As Frontex operates within the opaque world of global security, there is no regulation, staff accountability or democratic oversight by the European Parliament (even though the parliament is responsible for its budget, awarding it 114 million this year, with 9.5 million dedicated to deportations). There is little opportunity for scrutiny, either, as both its past and current operations are not disclosed to anyone outside the organisation itself.

Frontex is clearly positioned as part of the secretive corporate security world, operating as a business venture and organised along corporate lines. Ruben Andersson notes its adoption of business jargon: its “risk assessments” deliver “strategic and operational risk analysis products”, specifically “tailored” to its “customers”. The agency deploys its staff to migrant centres in migration “hotspots”, such as Lampedusa, where they “debrief” the migrants who come ashore, often in a state of shock after watching others die around them, to discover their routes and the smugglers’ operations.51 They also determine, in collaboration with EASO (the European Asylum Support Office) and Europol (the European law enforcement agency), their nationality and whether they can be allowed to claim asylum or should be marked for deportation.52 This information is fed back to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, which turns the reality of complex lives and the stories of desperate journeys into risk assessment graphs and interactive maps which member states use as a basis for their plans to intercept and return further “illegal migrants”. Frontex itself possesses no infrastructure but coordinates these actions or “joint operations”, as well as subsequent “returns” (deportations) from European territory.

However, in 2011 the European Union awarded Frontex “enhanced operational capacity”, meaning it now has greater capacity to “launch and finance technical assistance projects in third countries”. Just a year earlier, Amnesty International and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles53 had produced a damning report in which they claimed that Frontex implements such “technical assistance projects” with “third countries” through diverting funds intended for humanitarian and development aid to border control, and that its “joint operations and pilot projects create a gap in accountability and potentially permit member states to engage in border management with impunity”.54 They maintained that the EU uses the agency to circumvent international obligations to human rights (preventing migrants from gaining access to international protection or asylum ­procedures) through a reliance on its bilateral agreements with “third countries”.55

Frontex has sole authorisation to evaluate its operations, including those it coordinates with member states, but it frequently sloughs off responsibility for human rights violations with the claim that the participating state is the responsible party, creating a miasma of unaccountability. The agency’s hybrid nature, however, means that a lack of clarity is built into its structure as it operates sometimes as an intergovernmental body, sometimes as an independent agency. Although its powers are bestowed by the European Union, its border operations appear unfettered by any legal constraints, and the irregular migrants it intercepts appear to lack either rights or redress.

Detection: Eurosur’s “pre-frontier” surveillance

The information Frontex acts on is managed and filtered through the surveillance equipment, mass databases and data-mining technologies employed by the EU’s migration management regime to identify and track irregular migrants. The development of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur) signals the attempt to integrate these technologies into a streamlined transnational apparatus, underpinned by “readmission” agreements with neighbouring third countries.56 The system was proposed in 2008 as part of Europe’s so-called Smart Borders Package, and is now running as a pilot project (shortly to become fully operational) dedicated to enhancing the “situational awareness and reaction capability” of both member states and Frontex in the interception of “illegal migrants” and “cross-border criminals”.57 The European Council58 describes Eurosur’s remit as providing a “common pre-frontier intelligence picture”. As such, it represents a paradigmatic shift in the policing of the open seas, with “comprehensive 24/7 surveillance” of the waters beyond European territory and around the coasts and ports of North Africa to detect migrant boats.59 Eurosur did not, however, despite its ambitious reach, provide information quickly enough to save any lives in the Mediterranean this year—but this of course is not its true purpose, notwithstanding the provision inserted into its founding legislation on the insistence of MEPs.

As with Frontex, its structure is profoundly undemocratic: it began development prior to the establishment of a legal framework or structure of financial accountability. Despite this, it has adopted the use of drones, satellites and high-resolution cameras. The consortium of defence corporations tasked with its development has been awarded 12 million over four years from 2013. Its development and implementation is fast outpacing regional or international powers of regulation. Surveying its potential impact in 2011, Katja Franko Aas predicted an intensification of “the humanitarian anarchy and loss of life at Europe’s southern Mediterranean borders”, a prediction borne out by the fatal events this year.60

Eurosur has arisen out of the European Union’s vision of creating a system of “smart borders”,61 projected to become one of the world’s largest biometric databases. Although promoted as a way of easing border congestion for approved travellers, this essentially comprises an IT project conceived on a massive scale for the identification and prevention of ­irregular migration. It represents the next step in the roll out of a European biometric immigration system focused on authenticating identity, sifting “legal” from “illegal” travellers. The mobilisation of biometrics follows in the footsteps of earlier techniques of identification, but it has taken a step beyond these and is intended to eventually facilitate automatic verification.62

The profoundly political opposition of “legal” versus “illegal” (included versus excluded) is the operating logic of all the technologies of exclusion rolled out across Europe, including the Schengen Information System (SIS II), Eurodac and the Visa Information System (VIS), each of which relies on searchable biometric databases. The stereotype of the “illegal migrant” (poor people travelling from the Global South, in particular from certain regions and countries) is fed into their data-mining systems, giving them both content and rationale. The trend towards “biometric borders” is based on the myth that the application of biometrics is a “scientific” way of objectively deciding on an individual’s “legality”, but, as Amoore says, these so-called scientific decisions invisibly incorporate all the irrational markers of difference (racial, religious and economic) by which Europe’s “others” have traditionally been identified.63

Furthermore, the development of a framework for the implementation of these inherently racist biometric identification systems has been outsourced to multinational concerns promoting the technological ­infrastructure of “mobility control” and “identity management”. As Charlotte Epstein remarks, the irregular migrant will be intimately scrutinised and controlled, and their fate decided, by unregulated, anonymous private organisations.64

Interdiction: remote-control policing

These border technologies are integrated with and rely on the national security-influenced policy of “remote-control” border policing—subcontracting and outsourcing migration control to “third states”—which has been rapidly gaining ground in Europe since the 1990s. For example, SIVE (the EU’s electronic surveillance system that hoovers up radar, video and satellite signals along Spain’s Mediterranean coast) is linked to Spain’s bilateral agreements with countries such as Morocco. These agreements are empowered by intergovernmental policy bargains made between member states—for example, over the designation of “safe third countries” to which migrants can be deported. Countries around the Mediterranean have been recruited through bilateral and EU or Frontex-brokered agreements containing “returns and readmission” clauses into playing the role of buffer zone, both “readmitting” and filtering out irregular migrants before they reach European territory. The countries seconded as Europe’s border police in the south complement the role of those on its eastern periphery, the location of its “Electronic Curtain”.65

As its border policing has taken on a global aspect, however, the European Union’s reach has progressively shifted further south into the Sahara and the Sahel region: the Nigerian-Libyan border and the Malian borders with Mauritania and Algeria have become priority areas in the prevention of irregular migration from the African continent. The 2015 European Agenda on Migration, for example, pledges that the prevention of “illegal migration” to Europe will be a specific component of the “ongoing Common Security and Defence policy (CSDP) missions” already deployed in Niger and Mali.66 Amnesty and the ECRE, however, point out that such agreements with “third countries” rarely contain criteria demanding the adoption of asylum procedures, respect for the right to non-discrimination and non-refoulement, or safeguards against unlawful, arbitrary detention.67

As Andersson68 shows, the key to the construction of a chain of subcontracted migration controls lies in creating a trickle-down system of rewards, from donations of border policing tools to large financial aid packages. In countries with high unemployment and widespread poverty this inevitably becomes a system of what he refers to as “perverse incentives”.69 The subcontracted national border guards increasingly employ arbitrary methods of policing clandestine migration, both to ensure a continuous cashflow and secure a share of it. For example, Mauritania stands accused of deporting foreign workers to make up the tally, and when Morocco received 654 million over three years under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument in 2007,70 irregular migration was swiftly racialised: those targeted were overwhelmingly black sub-Saharan Africans.

Jean-Pierre Cassarino notes that the web of returns and readmission agreements is vast,71 and once they are placed within the broader framework of aid and development negotiations, memoranda of understanding, economic treaties and law enforcement cooperation agreements, they become difficult to detect and even more so to monitor.72 These memoranda of understanding between member states and the interior ministries of “third countries” (such as Senegal, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Niger) are often simply “cut and paste”73 from one country to another. It is through such agreements that the EU and its member states are able to distance themselves from the day to day implementation of detection, expulsion and prevention, which inevitably results in abuses and deaths. Paradoxically, the leaders of member states sometimes wish publicly to demonstrate that they are enforcing strict measures of control, and cite the agreements concluded with African and Middle Eastern states on the prevention of “illegal migration” as proof of their commitment to the “defence” of their borders.

The deportation “conveyor belt”

The connected policy of “joint removals” (the deportation of irregular migrants by several cooperating member states on European Union chartered aircraft, often coordinated by Frontex) is dependent on such readmission agreements. Migreurop, a network of campaigners against detention of migrants, reminds us that, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is unlawful to “organise collective returns to places where people may fear they will be mistreated”.74 Despite this, the deportations of forced migrants to “safe third countries” are undertaken on the implicit understanding that they will be further deported to their countries or regions of origin. Furthermore, the “third countries” themselves to which they are deported frequently represent dangerous, unlawful environments for forced migrants. In some cases, there are summary deportations at land borders or “pushbacks” at sea. Territorial spaces in airports, transit zones and ports have also been redefined as “international territories” or “zones d’attente” (holding areas). The migrants trapped in these places are often deemed to be outside national boundaries and liable for removal without a formal deportation order or access to asylum procedures.

Every week, men, women and children are deported from Europe, not only on specially chartered flights but also on military planes and commercial airliners, some in handcuffs, blindfolds or leg irons, or in extreme cases in straitjackets or strapped onto stretchers. People deported from Germany and Finland have even been sedated.75 The Medical Foundation (now Freedom from Torture),76 for example, has documented the level of routine brutality involved in deportations from Britain, which are undertaken by private security “escorts” such as G4S (which subsequently lost its contract after the death of an Angolan man, Jimmy Mubenga, in 2010), GEO Group and Tascor. The detention “conveyor belt”, which “has no precedent in European history in its scale or intensity”,77 and the returns and readmission programmes it relies upon, add up to a policy of frequently violent expulsion.

Detention and destitution

The result of these activities is an increasing number of people “in orbit”, following their rejection from “any place where they could potentially settle”.78 In some regions, they have scant hope of access to asylum procedures, and are either deported or detained. Detention in fact is now used as one of the primary tools of border control. The EU has a vast archipelago of ­incarceration at its disposal, including increasing numbers of detention centres in all its member states.79 Britain alone has 11 “removal centres” and three “residential short-term holding centres”, with the majority operated by private security firms Mitie, G4S, GEO Group and Serco. They comprise a secret world of desperation, where vulnerable and often traumatised people are driven to depression, self-harm and attempted suicide.

Meanwhile, Europe’s purpose-built detention facilities situated outside the European Union are often found in isolated areas such as deserts, mountain ranges or buffer zones under military control. The proliferation of such centres began in the period when the US and the EU collaborated in the covert practice of “extraordinary rendition” during the War on Terror; the “securitisation” of European migration policy, which has resulted in the use of mass detention, sprang from the same agenda. The frequently indeterminate term of imprisonment for those charged with no crime reveals Europe’s migrant detention centres as bearing a marked resemblance to the “black sites” where “enemy aliens” were secretly incarcerated without charge as part of the “war on terror”. The European Union has continued to fund the construction of these migrant detention centres in countries such as Turkey, Ukraine and Mauritania (one at Nouadhibou in Mauritania even carries the epithet “Guantanamito”).

Other spaces of detention include de facto “holding facilities” of indeterminate status: parking lots, prisons, military compounds and “micro-spaces” such as ship cabins or train compartments. The sheer variety and the semi-privatised and often militarised nature of these spaces of detention, their remote or ad hoc locations, and the secretive nature of their operations mean that humanitarian or refugee organisations find them impossible to monitor. Even the European Commission itself has admitted that it has encountered “major difficulties” in collecting data from member states on the maximum length of stay or the grounds for detention.80 What little is known, however, is that in many such places those detained routinely lack access to legal aid, medical attention or information on their rights, and often experience racist, violent and degrading treatment.81

Alternatively, irregular migrants, who are either released because they cannot be returned or are living under the radar, become stateless clandestine residents in the countries they travel through or the “safe third countries” they are deported to, subsisting in extreme poverty and subject to state harassment and violence. Within Europe itself there are very many irregular migrants, often refused asylum seekers, who have similarly been forced into a clandestine life, often homeless or destitute and comprising part of Fekete’s “shadow Europe”.82 Meanwhile, in many European countries—for example, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Britain—those who apply for asylum are effectively confined to certain locations through their conditions of “dispersal” while they await a decision. Such policies are deliberate forms of marginalisation, social exclusion and control, as is the destitution of those who are refused asylum, cannot afford to appeal the refusal, or overstay their visas. In 2007, for example, the British Home Office stated that “illegal immigrants” who are “not prioritised for removal…should be denied the benefits and privileges of life in the UK and experience an increasingly uncomfortable environment so that they elect to leave”.83 In addition, the criminalisation of “overstayers” takes place with increasing frequency: for example, in some member states, they can be subject to heavy fines, and in Austria, Germany and Latvia to imprisonment (from the age of 14 in Germany and Latvia).84 Enforced destitution and criminalisation are further tools in the EU’s strategy of exclusion.

European politicians, however, are not unaware that many of those who manage to remain are quietly integrated into the labour market as part of a highly exploitable and expendable informal workforce that is an integral part of all the big European economies. Many sectors, such as construction, catering, retail, transport, agriculture and food processing, are reliant on what Mike Davis has called a “stealth workforce”,85 linked to Europe’s formal economy through a web of subcontractors—evidence of a yet further contradiction between rhetoric and reality.

A future gated continent

Ben Hayes believes that behind the implementation of the constantly updated technologies and methods of exclusion lies the vision of a future, even more extreme Fortress Europe. The external borders of this gated continent will be controlled by security fences and a network of physical and virtual security checkpoints manned by border police, private security personnel and specifically adapted military robots.86 These will be linked into a high-tech surveillance and intelligence gathering system, and augmented by “rapid border intervention teams” (Rabits) controlled by Frontex, interdiction in international waters, and a system of forced removals enabled by returns and readmission agreements with third countries.87

This dystopian blueprint, however, may never be fully realised. Its technology is being introduced in a much more haphazard and less integrated way than policy papers suggest, and security experts have a vested economic interest in portraying technology as possessing a potentially omnipresent power. Its real significance, however, lies in the revelation of the sort of unaccountable security environment in which the EU’s immigration and asylum agenda is based. By designing, developing and putting into operation various elements of a vast semi-privatised apparatus, the EU has become a leading exponent of the practices of exclusion violently marking the borders of the neoliberal world’s wealthy states. It is ­systematically ­transforming Europe’s external borders—wherever in the world they happen to be located, at the Evros River between Turkey and Greece, in the Sahara or the Mediterranean—into places of extreme insecurity and death. The pursuit of the “illegal migrant” reveals how the hidden circuits of power (where the EU’s managers and corporate security personnel meet and merge) have created a dysfunctional system that echoes all the violence and contradictions of the neoliberal system from which it springs.

The most fundamental contradiction lying at the heart of Fortress Europe, however, is the fact that these seemingly impregnable barriers are intensely vulnerable, not only to the ingenuity and sheer desperation of individual migrants who determine to breach them, but to more collective threats. In Europe, the growing mass movements against racism and fascism, intimately linked to the struggles against austerity throughout the continent, keep alive the essential arguments over the nature of borders and the reality of working class unity, helping to undermine the rationale and rhetoric underpinning the border regime. The most recent extraordinary display of support and solidarity for those forced migrants who have made it to Europe by masses of ordinary Europeans has indeed forced many politicians rapidly, if temporarily, to recalibrate both their rhetoric and rules. In the process, the EU’s false rhetoric of internationalism is laid bare by genuine internationalist practice that challenges both national governments and EU policy by opposing border controls and welcoming migrants.

The inherent vulnerability of Europe’s border regime was plainly ­manifest in 2012. One of the results of the Arab Spring was the swift ­unravelling of migratory barriers that the EU had so carefully constructed in the region over the years. The whole structure of agreements propping up its outsourced border controls threatened to come tumbling down with the dictators who had signed them. The halting of the revolutionary wave in the region with the suppression of the Egyptian revolutionary movement has meant the EU is now trying rapidly to resurrect these agreements with the successor regimes. The unfinished nature of the revolution and the contradictions inherent in the European neoliberal project, however, mean that Fortress Europe, and the countless tragedies it produces, is by no means the end of the story.


1: Arendt, 1958, p269.

2: Council of the European Union, 2015.

3: Peter, 2015.

4: Nielsen, 2015.

5: Statewatch, 2015a.

6: Marfleet, 2006.

7: Hyndman and Mountz, 2008, pp249-268.

8: Carr, 2012.

9: Hyndman and Mountz, 2008.

10: Aas, 2011, p296.

11: Theresa May cited in Stone, 2015.

12: Most notably by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi in a speech in April 2015 cited in BBC News Online, 2015.

13: Open Democracy, 2015.

14: Kushner and Knox, 1999, p14.

15: European Union External Action, 2015.

16: Philip Luther, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director, writing in Amnesty International, 2015.

17: Amnesty International, 2015.

18: Al Hussein, 2015.

19: Carr, 2012, p68.

20: Frontex’s full title is the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union.

21: Leggeri cited in Frenzen, 2015.

22: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014.

23: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2015.

24: Peter, 2015.

25: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2015.

26: The global security services industry was approximately $96 billion in size in 2013. The largest share of this market was held by Europe at almost 30 percent. Some of the leading companies worldwide in the security services industry include UK-based G4S, Sweden-based Securitas AB and US-based ADT Corporation—in 2013 their revenues were $12.08 billion, $10.12 billion and $3.31 billion respectively—

27: Institute for Economics and Peace, 2015.

28: Stumpf, 2006.

29: Bosworth, 2008, p206.

30: Fekete, 2009, p190.

31: The Stockholm Agreement is a five-year plan for “European justice, freedom and security” running from 2010 through to 2015.

32: Graham, 2012, p77.

33: Carr, 2012, p263.

34: Marfleet, 1999.

35: Amoore, 2011, p11.

36: José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission, spoke of what he called “the dark side of globalisation” in just such terms in a speech to the European Community Studies Association World Conference in Brussels in 2004. Go to

37: Hayes, 2009a.

38: Bunyan, 2010.

39: Marfleet, 2000.

40: Statewatch, 2015b.

41: The Lisbon Treaty (2009) has been widely interpreted as a constitution in all but name. It amended the two treaties that form the constitutional basis of the European Union: the Treaty of Rome (1957) and the Maastricht Treaty (1992).

42: Anderson, 2007, p17.

43: Bunyan, 2009.

44: Bunyan, 2010.

45: Bigo, 2008.

46: The then-EU commissioner Franco Frattini confirmed as early as 2007 that privatisation and outsourcing are now central to EU security policy: “Security is no longer a ‘monopoly’ of public administrations, but a common good, the responsibility for which and implementation should be shared by public and private bodies”—Frattini, 2007.

47: Andersson, 2014, p14.

49: Perkowski, 2012, p3.

50: Frontex, 2015a.

51: Andersson, 2014, pp76-77. Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri has recently emphasised the importance of the role of these “debriefing officers” in collecting “intelligence about the criminals operating in Libya and other countries of transit. In this way Frontex is assisting the Italian authorities and Europol in their investigations and efforts to dismantle the smuggling networks”—Frontex, 2015b.

52: Statewatch, 2015c.

53: Amnesty and European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2010, p26.

54: Amnesty and European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2010, p12.

55: Amnesty and European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2010, p28.

56: Council of the European Union, 2012.

57: European Commission cited in Hayes and Vermeulen, 2012, p8.

58: Council of the European Union, 2012.

59: Hayes and Vermeulen, 2012, p9.

60: Aas, 2011, p339.

61: European Commission, 2013.

62: Aas, 2011, p341.

63: Amoore, 2006, p8.

64: Epstein, 2008, p185.

65: The European Commission introduced this policy at the European Union’s eastern borders in 2002.

66: European Commission, 2015.

67: Amnesty and European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2010.

68: Andersson, 2014.

69: Andersson, 2014.

70: European Commission, 2007.

71: Germany, for example, has returns and readmission agreements with many Eastern European and Balkan states, while Italy, Spain, Greece and France have similar arrangements with a number of Mediterranean and African countries.

72: Cassarino, 2010, pp9-10.

73: Andersson, 2014.

74: Migreurop, 2010a, p5.

75: Schuster, 2014, p9.

76: Medical Foundation, 2004.

77: Carr, 2012, p138.

78: Migreurop, 2010, p5.

79: For a graphic disclosure of the vast number of detention centres throughout Europe see the 2013 map produced by Migreurop (Migreurop, 2013). For more detailed, continually updated information, see Close the Camps, a Migreurop project (

80: European Commission cited in Migreurop, 2014, p27. Migreurop’s damning report gathers together the findings of civil society organisations researching the whereabouts, conditions and reasons for detention in Europe over the past ten years. Other detailed information on detention and deportation can be found on Migreurop’s website.

81: Amnesty International and European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2010.

82: Fekete, 2009, p190.

83: Quoted in Carr, 2012, p145.

84: Suffee, 2015.

85: Davis, 2006, p178.

86: Hayes, 2009b, p5. One area of EU security research, for example, is dedicated to adapting combat robots that can intercept individuals crossing borders “illegally”: the remit of the
20 million TALOS project is to develop robots able to “stop illegal action almost autonomously” (European Commission, 2011). See also

87: Hayes, 2009b, p5.


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