Border Wars: report on the militarisation of Europe's borders


A new report from the Transnational Institute and StopWapenhandel exposes the companies profiting from the militarisation of Europe's borders. Europe has seen a huge influx of refugees and migrants – primarily from conflict-ridden countries like Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and many European states are responding with a growing push to militarise borders and restrict movement, with populist xenophobia on the increase. The border security industry is estimated at being worth 15 billion euros in 2015, and will be worth 29 billion by 2022.

'Border Wars', published in July 2016, examines the ways military and security companies have profited from the provision of border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements”. The report explores the ways that arms companies have benefited from – and influenced – European policy, how they have profited from public money, and the services they provide. Many of the companies benefiting from the drive to 'secure' Europe's borders have also profited from the use of weapons to conflict zones that are the main drivers of migration to the continent. As the executive summary of the report outlines, “the companies creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”

Some of the key findings of the report, outlined in the executive summary, include:

  • The border security market is booming. Estimated at some 15 billion euros in 2015, it is predicted to rise to over 29 billion euros annually in 2022

  • The arms business, in particular sales to the Middle-East and North-Africa, where most of the refugees are fleeing from, is also booming. Global arms exports to the Middle-East actually increased by 61 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15. Between 2005 and 2014, EU member states granted arms exports licences to the Middle East and North Africa worth over 82 billion euros

  • The European border security industry is dominated by major arms companies, who have all set up or expanded security divisions as well as a number of smaller IT and specialist security firms. Italian arms giant Finmeccanica identified “border control and security systems” as one of the primary drivers for increase in orders and revenues

  • The big players in Europe’s border security complex include arms companies Airbus, Finmeccanica, Thales and Safran, as well as technology giant Indra. Finmeccanica and Airbus have been particularly prominent winners of EU contracts aimed at strengthening borders. Airbus is also the number one winner of EU security research funding contracts

  • Finmecannica, Thales and Airbus, prominent players in the EU security business are also three of the top four European arms traders, all active selling to countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Their total revenues in 2015 amounted to 95 billion euros

  • Israeli companies are the only non-European receivers of research funding (thanks to a 1996 agreement between Israel and the EU) and also have played a role in fortifying the borders of Bulgaria and Hungary, and promote their expertise based on the West Bank separation wall and the Gaza border with Egypt. Israeli firm BTec Electronic Security Systems, selected by Frontex to participate in its April 2014 workshop on ‘Border Surveillance Sensors and Platforms’, boasted in its application mail that its “technologies, solutions and products are installed on [the] Israeli-Palestinian border”

  • The arms and security industry has successfully captured the 316 million euros funding provided for research in security issues, setting the agenda for research, carrying it out, and then often benefiting from the subsequent contracts that result. Since 2002, the EU has funded 56 projects in the field of border security and border control.

The full executive summary can be found here:

And the full report can be read online at:


Police militarisation theme

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