The political goal of managing the external borders of the EU called a wide range of actors who offer their services either in the managing of external borders or to refugees and asylum seekers who intend to enter the EU. As a consequence, real competition has developed in this field.
Due to the impermeability of the border, many refugees are "stranded" at the external borders of the EU. Among these refugees are those who classify as refugees under the Geneva Convention on Refugees as well as people who are commonly referred to as "economic refugees". A demand for cheap illegal employment has consequently developed in the EU as well as in transit countries.
Competition has also erupted amongst those actors who campaign for the rights of refugees. For example, established on the Italian island of Lampedusa are various non-governmental and governmental organizations who "manage" mobility, offering the EU their services in the receiving and returning of refugees or those who research flight and immigration on-site.
Border Management Industry
The by far largest legal market in connection with EU borders and their security is served by industries that offer surveillance hardware and software. The existing information systems (SIS, VIS, EURODAC) first had to be developed and must be maintained after being put into operation. New technologies (EES, RTP, EUROSUR, etc.) are currently being developed. The required systems, applications and devices range from satellites to biometric scanners, patrol boats and radio devices. Consequently, an entire border management industry branch has developed.
Bitkom, a German association which represents a large number of companies that produce software and hardware for border security, demands that:
"Along the migration process, transfer points are to be identified and appropriate measures for migration management implemented at these points. This new process of understanding must be rooted both nationally and internationally and be supported technologically within migration policies. The necessity to confront the increasing technological facilities of smugglers and human traffickers with adequate and efficient surveillance mechanisms is pivotal. This reduces the total costs of border management in the medium term and reduces irregular migration in the long term."
Furthermore, linking the “world of research and industry” with EU Member States’ national authorities responsible for controlling external borders is part of what Frontex sees as their responsibility (see above).
An important player in this area is the EADS Group, which is Europe’s largest aerospace company as well as an important defense supplier. EADS is specialized in border management technologies, for example having equipped Romania with a billion euro border security system in preparation for accession into the Schengen area.
In addition, a part of the EU research funds is dedicated to the development of new technologies for the management of the external borders. Between 2007 and 2010, around 41 million euro were given to the Seventh Framework Programme for Research for research projects on border security.
"The Commission intends to make full use of the PCP instrument set out in Horizon 2020 and devote a significant part of the security research budget on this instrument.
Is it Worth it?
There is no exhaustive compilation of all costs spent for border security. There is a budget item labeled "external border funds", but only a part of the money for external border security is listed under this expense category. Not included are support funds for candidate counties that still have to develop their border security, the Twinning measures in third countries, research funds, funds that are paid to transit states for their immigration controls, etc. Other significant costs not included are those for immigration control measures--visas and asylum.
The known figures alone cast doubt for politicians, researchers and human rights organizations on whether the invested sums still stand in a justifiable cost-benefit ratio. There are no calculations for any potential alternatives that would exist. Estimations from Frontex, on which the majority of surveillance measures in the number of identified "overstayers" rest, show definite leeway for alternative interpretation, as shown in this quote from the Frontex homepage:
"According to Frontex’ risk analysis, as many as 45% of Europe’s 271 million entry/exits per year are from countries ‘at risk’ of being an irregular migration source. If only one percent of these 121 million passengers are migrating irregularly, that means as many as 1.2 million irregular migrants enter the EU every year through its airports. For this reason alone air operations present unique challenges."
This text is part of the policy brief on Interner Link: "Frontex and the EU Border Regime".