Arming Big Brother - The EU's Security Research Programme

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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 Europes 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.

Ben Hayes has been a researcher with the civil liberties group Statewatch since 1996, specialising in the development and implementation of EU Justice and Home Affairs policy. He is widely published on civil liberties issues in Europe and has written about policing, surveillance, criminal law, immigration controls, asylum policy, human rights, privacy and data protection, freedom of information and democratic standards. He works with of range of NGOs and community groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance, the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (UK) and the Global Freedom of Information Advocates Network. He is joint co-ordinator of the European Civil Liberties Network, launched in October 2005.

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