Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The EU's Security Research Programme [pdf]

/ brothers / very big /
Statewatch, has published a report on the development of a European Military-Security complex titled "Arming Big Brother - The EU's Security Research Programme". In it, it presents in rather horrifying detail, the uncelebrated and under-reported story of the EU's efforts at "Security Research", the people who will get rich off it and the bloody scary, undemocratic world of European Lobbying. The whole thing presents a clear and present danger to democracy in the EU, as it entails the development of a host of very sensitive technologies as far as civil rights are concerned:

"...Myriad local and global surveillance systems; the introduction of biometric identifiers; RFID, electronic tagging and satellite monitoring; "less-lethal weapons"; paramilitary equipment for public order and crisis management; and the militarization of border controls -– technological advances in law enforcement are often welcomed uncritically but rarely are these technologies neutral, in either application or effect. Military organisations dominate research and development in these areas
under the banner of "“dual-use"” technology, avoiding both the constraints and controversies of the arms trade. Tomorrow'’s technologies of control quickly become today's political imperative; contentious policies appear increasingly irresistible. There are strong arguments for regulating, limiting and resisting the development of the security-industrial complex but as yet there has been precious little debate..."

Apart from the research itself, the whole process is brimming with practically unaccountable and unelected committees deciding on critical issues, heavy lobbying by powerful corporations and a lack of public scrutiny that is becoming par for the EU course. A brief summary:

The militarisation of the EU is a controversial development that should be fiercely contested. EU funding of military research is also very controversial, from both a
constitutional and political perspective. This Statewatch-TNI report examines the development of the EU Security Research Programme (ESRP) and the growing security-industrial complex in Europe it is being set up to support. With the global market for technologies of repression more lucrative than ever in the wake of 11 September 2001, it is on a healthy expansion course. There are strong arguments for regulating, limiting and resisting the development of the security-industrial complex but as yet there has been precious little debate.

The story of the ESRP is one of "“Big Brother"” meets market fundamentalism. It was personified by the establishment in 2003 of a "Group of Personalities"” (GoP) comprised of EU officials and Europe'’s biggest arms and IT companies who argued that European multinationals are losing out to their US competitors because the US government is providing them with a billion dollars a year for security research. The European Commission responded by giving these companies a seat at the EU table, a proposed budget of one billion euros for "“security"” research and all but full control over the development and implementation of the programme. In effect, the EU is funding the diversification of these companies into the more legitimate and highly lucrative "dual use"” sector, allowing them to design future EU security policies and allowing corporate interests to determine the public interest.

The planned Security Research Programme raises important issues about EU policy-making and the future of Europe. Europe faces serious security challenges: not just terrorism, but disease, climate change, poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, resource depletion and other sources of insecurity. Rather than being part of a broader strategy to combat these challenges, the ESRP is part of a broader EU counter-terrorism strategy almost singularly orientated to achieving security based primarily on the use of military force and the demands of law enforcement. Freedom and democracy are being undermined by the very policies adopted in their name.

Related to this other piece of dystopic europlanning, previously reported here.


Renegade Eye said...

That is a familiar story here in the USA.

talos said...

Renegade Eye: Apparently we're well ahead of you, this time...