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News > World

Report: European Arms Dealers Profiting from Refugee Crisis

  • Syrian fighter during a battle with government forces

    Syrian fighter during a battle with government forces | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 July 2016

Major European arms dealers involved in selling arms to the Middle East are some of the same corporations now profiting from militarizing EU’s borders.

Powerful European weapons manufacturers profiting from wars that are producing the current refugee crisis, are also promoting and financially benefiting from the increased militarization of EU borders, according to a new report published by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Dutch NGO Stop Wapenhandel. 

The damning 60 page document, titled ‘Border Wars,’ exposes the extensive influence that EU arms dealers hold over EU lawmakers as it pertains to border security and regional immigration policies.  

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Corporations from the arms industry exert their influence over European border security policy through aggressive lobbying efforts as well as through securing funding for research, the TNI report found. 

“The 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,” the report noted. 

The new report also cites specific companies including Airbus, Finmeccanica, Thales as “the key companies profiting from lucrative defense contracts" aimed at strengthening EU borders.

All three of these firms – Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales – are among the top four European arms dealers and are also actively selling weapons to conflict-ridden countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

“The companies that have helped create the crisis are now profiting from ‘securing’ Europe’s borders. This might provide security for the arms firms’ CEOs and shareholders, but it’s only fueling worsening insecurity and suffering for refugees,” Mark Akkerman of Stop Wapenhandel warned in a press release on Monday.

Meanwhile, the report criticized the EU’s security-oriented approach to immigration policy, which the authors argued has lead to “a massive expansion of Europe’s border security complex.” The EU’s border security market, which is currently valued at around US$16 billion, is predicted to rise to over US$32 billion in 2022.

Evidence to back this claim is further supported by the fact that EU funding for security measures has increased substantially in recent years.

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Frontex, for example, the EU’s main border control agency, has had its budget increased 3688 percent between 2005 and 2016, according to figures from the new report.

The research goes on to show that due to intense lobbying tactics by Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales, the European Commission plans to expand the scope of operations of its border security agency Frontex into a more powerful European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

These new revelations serve as an indicator to help measure Europe’s rapidly expanding military industry complex, which the authors claim is the result of “a growing convergence of interests between Europe’s political leaders seeking to militarize the borders and its major defense and security contractors who provide the services.”

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