Arming Big Brother

The EU's Security Research Programme

9 April 2006

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.

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.

5-page summary

Press release

April 2006
Wilbert van der Zeijden (eds.)
48 pages
ISBN/ISSN: 1871-3408

About the authors

Ben Hayes

Ben Hayes is a TNI fellow who has worked for the civil liberties organisation Statewatch since 1996, specialising in international and national security and policing policies. Ben also works as an independent researcher and consultant for organisations including the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, Cordaid, the Heinrich Boll Foundation, the European Parliament and European Commission.

Ben's research has two main focuses: (i) the impact of counter-terrorism, surveillance and border control policies on democracy, human rights, civil society and international development, (ii) the influence and activities of the defence and security industries.

Ben has a PhD from Magee College (Derry/Londonderry) awarded by the University of Ulster in 2008. He is currently working on a book on climate change and international security for TNI.

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