Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya

A German public prosecutor’s office is investigating the shooting of the ship „Alan Kurdi“. Its crew could be caught between the fronts of two coastguards equipped and trained by different EU missions.

With the General Administration for Coastal Security (GACS) and the Libyan Coast Guard and Port Security (LCGPS), two authorities with overlapping functions exist in Libya. The Ministry of Interior Coast Guard is a law enforcement agency operating within the 12-mile zone and along the coast, while the Ministry of Defence Coast Guard is responsible for territorial waters.

In a „marine strategy“, the Libyan unity government in Tripoli intends to reorganise the responsibilities of LCGPS and GACS. The two responsible ministries are supported in these efforts by the European Union in a „Maritime Sub-Working Group on Libya“ (MSWG). Central actors are the military mission EUNAVFOR MED, which cooperates with the Ministry of Defence, and the EUBAM Libya police mission, in which the EU cooperates with the Libyan Ministry of the Interior. „Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya“ weiterlesen

Maritime Walls

How armaments companies benefit from Fortress Europe

Several agencies in the European Union are responsible for the maritime regions of the Member States. The tasks of the Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) include the control of shipping, while Frontex coordinates the surveillance of maritime borders. Both use modern technologies, and the agencies have now pooled their capabilities. The EU Fisheries Control Agency is another partner to benefit from this tripartite working agreement.

Frontex specialises in satellite reconnaissance using the EUROSUR border surveillance system. With this platform, the agency wants to detect irregular refugee camps in Morocco or suspicious ship movements in the Mediterranean. The images come from an EU satellite programme for monitoring environmental and security matters. „Maritime Walls“ weiterlesen

New Frontex Regulation: Fortress Europe to be upgraded

The European Union is setting up a „Standing Corps“ of 10,000 border guards, most of whom will be provided by the German Federal Police. The new President of the Commission wants the unit to be complete by 2024. Frontex will also be given more powers and change its organisational structure.

With a „Standing Corps“ of 10,000 deployed personnel, the EU border agency Frontex enhance the shielding of the European Union. This is what the EU Commission’s proposal of 12 September 2018 to amend the Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) states. The new border troops are to prevent crossings at Europe’s external borders and carry out returns and deportations.

Frontex currently has only civilian personnel and „borrows“ forces for Joint Operations from the Member States. Until now, each mission has been the responsibility of a Member State of deployment. The Border Agency will be able to manage these operations itself under the new Regulation. „New Frontex Regulation: Fortress Europe to be upgraded“ weiterlesen

Does Frontex arrange illegal push backs?

The EU Border Agency’s air surveillance could have triggered unlawful deportations at external borders. Such operations took place off Libya and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

For two years now, the Frontex Border Agency has been offering EU Member States the possibility of airborne monitoring of their external borders. The flights of this „Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance“ (MAS) are part of the surveillance system EUROSUR, with which Frontex monitors all external borders of the European Union and its „pre-frontier area“. EUROSUR provides so called Fusion Services, including satellite reconnaissance and drone flights.

Frontex installed the manned air surveillance service in the summer of 2017. The agency therefore commissioned a charter company in an operating agreement to fly a twin-engine aircraft of the type „Diamond DA-42“ . Their recorded video data will be transmitted in real time to the Frontex headquarters in Warsaw. Several national EUROSUR contact points, including in Spain, Portugal and Italy, can also receive the live images. „Does Frontex arrange illegal push backs?“ weiterlesen

Land, sea and air: EU Member States test drones for border surveillance

In the ROBORDER security research project, border authorities and the military are testing various drones for controlling land and sea borders. They are supposed to operate in swarms. The border agency Frontex should benefit from the results. German companies are also involved in the research.

Ministries of the Interior and Defence from Portugal, Hungary and Greece are testing manned and unmanned platforms for border surveillance. In the EU project ROBORDER, Hungary is interested in securing land borders with an unmanned ground vehicle, while Greece is using a long-range drone and an aircraft. Portugal uses a surface and an underwater drone in the Atlantic.

The drones should operate independently and in swarms. They are equipped with various sensors whose images are combined in a mobile situation centre. Different communication links are examined for transmission. „Land, sea and air: EU Member States test drones for border surveillance“ weiterlesen

EU Military in the Mediterranean: Mission accomplished

EUNAVFOR MED and Frontex now fly for Libyan Coast Guard

The European Union only wants to observe sea rescue operations off Libya from the air and no longer send its own ships. The warships involved in the EUNAVFOR MED military mission are therefore being withdrawn, while the operation is „strengthening surveillance by air assets“. With this decision, the EU Member States have temporarily settled a dispute with the government in Rome. Italy’s Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini does not want EUNAVFOR MED to let rescued persons come to Italy. The head of Lega is calling for their disembarkation in all the other states that take part in the mission with planes, ships or submarines. Since EUNAVFOR MED was founded, its ships have taken around 49,000 people on board. Almost all were disembarked in Italian ports. „EU Military in the Mediterranean: Mission accomplished“ weiterlesen

Arms companies benefit from migration in the English Channel

The market for border surveillance is booming. Two German companies are among the winners of the European policy sealing off their „blue borders“. The manufacturers of drones, radar systems and video surveillance can also be pleased.

Border authorities in France now observe ship movements in the English Channel with German technology. A ship tracking system near the port of Calais will be used. The system with the name „STYRIS“ was developed by Signalis and is located in a control centre at Cap Gris-Nez. Signalis is a merger of the armament groups Airbus and ATLAS Elektronik and specializes in the surveillance of maritime borders.

The British coastal town of Dover is only about 30 kilometres from the lighthouse at Cap Gris-Nez. More and more often, the British and French police report migrants trying to cross the English Channel in small boats. In 2018 French authorities counted 71 crossings, according to which 31 attempts failed. A total of 276 migrants successfully traversed the North Sea and 228 people were stopped. Since November, crossings had reportedly quadrupled. Most of the migrants came from Iran. „Arms companies benefit from migration in the English Channel“ weiterlesen

EU Commission wants to use artificial intelligence for surveillance

An EU document compares machine learning with the invention of electricity. A total of 20 billion euros is to be invested in research into „AI made in Europe“.

A „Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence“ of the European Union envisages the increased use of algorithms in the areas of „migration, infrastructure monitoring“. This is the message in the annex to the communication from the EU Commission, which the Secretary General addressed to the Council shortly before Christmas. AI-based machine learning is to be used primarily in the areas of geoinformation and earth observation.

The EU operates the „Copernicus“ programme, which initially consists of six optical and radar-based satellites. The images and geodata generated from space are used for environmental and safety purposes. Frontex, which requests satellite data for its EUROSUR border surveillance system via „Copernicus“, is regarded as the most important customer in the security sector. The EU Border Agency also uses satellite data to monitor the „pre-frontier area“. According to Frontex, EUROSUR is already able to use algorithms to distinguish between suspicious and unsuspicious ships. „EU Commission wants to use artificial intelligence for surveillance“ weiterlesen