Journalist Kasper Goethals wrote an article for Flemish newspaper De Standaard on 6 February about the border agency Frontex. In it, Mark Akkerman of NGO ‘Stop Arms Trade’ claimed that companies like Airbus and Leonardo, who are supplying weapons to the Middle East, work with Frontex to stop refugees at the European borders.
Akkerman’s research detailed how much companies earn from exporting arms to the Middle East. Next to the United States, EU countries are the main source of arms for the Middle East. For example, between 2005 and 2014 EU countries earned about 82 million euros on arms export licenses.
The websites from Airbus, aerospace industry, and Leonardo, specialized in security technology, also specify that the companies sell military aircrafts and military technology to countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman. And Saudi Arabia is directly involved in conflicts in the Middle East.
Those same companies work with Frontex, the European agency that actively works to secure borders. For example, the arms suppliers were paid about 200,000 euros to send out “surveillance drones”, including over the Mediterranean, to spot refugees. This cooperation was openly proclaimed on the websites of Airbus and Leonardo.
Airbus is also experiencing many financial benefits from EU grants around border surveillance research projects. The funding for the projects in which Airbus is actively participating is calculated to be close to 10 million euros. Thus, these kinds of fundings are also a major source of income for aerospace, defence and security companies like Leonardo S.p.A and Thales.
As the companies themselves put stories and numbers on their webistes about their export of weaponry to the Middle East and their involvement in the surveillance of the EU borders, everything indicates that the statement is correct.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Ezra Cnaepkens, Martha Van den Eede, Thabo Xulu, AP University College Antwerp, Belgium
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