Two years into the Stockholm Programme: on the way to e-Fortress Europe?

By EDRi · November 30, 2011

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Deutsch: [Zwei Jahre Stockholm Programm: Europa auf dem Weg zu einer elektronischen Festung? |]

It has been two years now since the Stockholm Programme – a 5-year plan for
Justice and Home Affairs – was adopted. On 24 November 2011, an experts’
and activists’ round table, organised in the European Parliament, raised
the question whether Europe was on its way to an e-Fortress. The
discussions focused on the proposal for so-called smart borders, the
processing of air passenger data (PNR) and the creation of a European
Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR).

With the introduction of smart borders, the European Commission aims at
implementing more effective border surveillance against “irregular
migration” by the use of drone planes, satellite and surveillance systems,
unmanned ground or marine vehicles and even combat robots. EUROSUR is a
further attempt by the European Commission to reduce the number of illegal
immigrants entering the European Union, to develop common tools and
instruments for Member States and to permit an EU-wide exchange of data. A
legislative proposal is expected to be published by the Commission around 7
December 2011.

Sergio Carrera, first speaker of the round table and senior research
fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), criticised the
current policy making in the field of security saying that it was not
evidence based and that debates on necessity were non-existent, thus
fundamental rights always play a secondary role. During the development
of every new project, the presumption of innocence, the consent of
individuals and the principle of non-discrimination are rarely taken
into account. He doubted that the gaps of Frontex could be closed by

Owe Langfeldt and Gabriel Blaj from the EDPS stressed the importance
that the Commission should provide clear proof that future security
policy measures were necessary and effective after their implementation.
They also warned of a function creep, called for clear purpose
limitation and criticised that through the introduction of profiling,
for example via PNR agreements, a generalised suspicion was laid upon
society. Blaj added that the subgroup on borders and law enforcement of the
Article 29 Working Group has recently decided to react on the proposals by
the Commission.

Erich Töpfer’s (Cilip & Statewatch) short input focused on the corporate
interest in the field of security policy and on the fact that border and
security measures involve a powerful security-industry complex. Detailed
information can be found in “Arming Big Brother” analysis and in a report
for the Transnational Institute which explains how most of the European
security research projects have been outsourced to the corporations that
have the most to gain from their implementation and examines the EU
security-industrial complex.

An open debate followed the short presentations during which the
participants of the round table discussed future activities, possible
arguments, cooperation and initiatives. The debate centred on useful
arguments to counter those in favor of the introduction of more surveillance
measures. The participants agreed on the necessity of an evaluation of
existing systems, of impact and cost assessments. Highlighting the export of
Western surveillance technologies to the Middle East was suggested, in order
to name and shame companies. At the same time, It is crucial for civil
society to provide MEPs with counter-facts (regarding EU-PNR for instance).

Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch, summarized the debated issues at
the end of the event. He pointed out that a very first proposal for
EU-PNR already collapsed in 2007 when the European Parliament opposed
it. Now, the Parliament and the Commission only needed to be reminded of
their own history. However, Bunyan also emphasized the necessity of
campaigns outside the Parliament, from the “ground”, which would be far
more effective than those that focus on winning a majority in the EP only.

European Commission Communication: Smart Border – options and the way ahead

Statewatch Analysis: Arming Big Brother

Transnational Institute : NeoConOpticon Report, The EU
Security-Industrial Complex

Programme of the event: Two Years into the Stockholm Programme – on the
way to e-Fortress Europe? (24.11.2011)

(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler – EDRi)