Partnership for more security: the colonialisation proceeds... (vom 24.07.2006),
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[24. Jul 2006]

Partnership for more security: the colonialisation proceeds...

Between May 3 and May 5, 2006, several summits and an "International Conference for Inner Security" took place in Vienna. This initiative of the Austrian EU-council-presidency assembled high-ranking political deputies, police representatives from more than 50 countries and various international organisations. Together, they were developing strategies in order to impair people's rights while at the same time trying to safeguard wealthy societies.

Table of content:

1. Harmonized dialogue

On May 3, 2006 a press-release from the three arranged meetings stated: "With this international conference for inner security we intend to contribute to the implementation of the EU-strategy for the external dimensions of justice and home affairs. For this reason, for the first time third party states and international organisations will be involved in an accordant political dialogue."

Actually, the council-presidency had called the meeting in order to implement one of its focal points, that is, the further extension of Fortress EUrope. Already back in January 2006, during an informal EU-meeting in Vienna, the ministers for justice and home affairs had decided to set up first pilot projects for :: ex-territorial detention-camps for refugees and migrants in the Ukraine and in :: Tanzania (de). The according demand had already been responsible for several outcries in the past, since it would mean, that those claiming asylum within the EU could then be detained in camps outside of the EU until their case is decided. (:: more information)

Another goal is the harmonization of procedures concerning asylum and visas, as stated in the Hague Programme (see :: annotated text as pdf). This way the EU hopes to eventually integrate the Balkan countries into Fortress EUrope. In this respect one has to remember, that from an historical perspective, Austria's role on the Balkan is somewhat similar to that of Spain in Morocco or of Italy in Libya. The colonialisation proceeds...

2. Harmonized residence

On April 27 and April 28, 2006, the EU-ministers for justice and home affairs met for a council-summit in Luxembourg. During that meeting important decisions concerning the harmonisation of EU's migration policies were taken. (see also the :: related press-release of the EU-council, pdf)

Among them was the decision to raise visa-prices in order to compensate increased costs caused by the implementation of a common visa-information-system and the collection of biometric data of the applicants.

In relation to this it's worth mentioning that exceptions were announced as well. The Vienna-based newspaper Der Standard explains "(...) that for states that are part of EU's 'neighbourhood' policies, the tax might be lifted for one year. During that time the EU will negotiate visa-alleviations with countries such as Turkey, Moldavia or several North African states. However, part of these negotiations will also be the obligation to take back migrants, who entered the EU illegally. In case an agreement is reached before December 31, 2007, the raise of the visa-prices will be obsolete for the accordant state." In short, for citizens of these states who agree on the demands of the EU-authorities, the prices won't be raised. On the other hand, if their citizens are caught staying in the EU illegally, their deportation can be processed straight away.

3. Efficient deportation

Furthermore all the EU-Council for Justice and Domestic Affairs has, presented its suggestions in the fight against human trafficking, while an international project for joint charter-deportations was launched. (see also :: "Council conclusions on Improved operational cooperation on joint operations by air", pdf) The project with the unofficial nickname :: "Asylum Airways" (de), is the continuation of joint deportations, that already had been taking place for long - and are considered successful by the EU-authorities. The operations are organised by the EU-member states themselves. According to Austria's minister for domestic affairs, Liese Prokop, the first flight organised by Austria might even take off before the end of June. On April 28, 2006, Ms Prokop told Der Standard: "In the upcoming weeks we will evaluate the demand in EU-member states in order to find out where the first flight should go to. It's neither clear yet, if it will start from Vienna or Brussels, nor if it will pick up deportees on other countries before heading for its actual destination." This deportation already happened on 12th of June 2006. According to the Austrian Minisitery for Internal Affairs 8 people from France, Poland aus Austria were deported. The plane was chartered from a Polish company. It picked them up and brought them with force and 27 guards via the Armenian capital Erewan to Tiflis in Georgia. (see :: report in german) According to the EU-comission, they will contribute 80 percent of the costs for such charter-flights, whereas the remaining 20 percent will be financed by member-states.

Practically, the deportees are either brought to one airport, or the planes fly to several airports where deportees have been assembled. In the night between 24th and 25th of April 2006, a joint deportation to West Africa, organised by the city of Hamburg, Germany, gave a glimpse of what to expect in the future. 24 deportees were handcuffed with helmets slipped over their heads. Those who didn't accept this procedure calmly were administered drugs by force. The flight was accompanied by more than 70 riot-policemen, officials, translators and doctors.

The main destination for joint deportations will be West African countries. Moreover, its often corrupt governments will be forced to sign agreements on the fight against so-called "illegal migration". But these means way the EU will try to prevent refugees leaving the region by enforcing stricter controls at African ports and airports. (see also :: "The European Migration Regime. Camps and Externalisation of Borders")

EU's own border-protection-ageny "Frontex", located in Warsaw, Poland, is in charge of organisational support and execution of the deportations. Those who think that a relatively young member of the EU such as Poland might have very little know-how for an operation of such a scales, are wrong: within the framework of chain-deportations, Poland has already been involved in the European deportation-system for years. Besides, Poland has it's own history of repressive tactics.

Back in September 1996, the first large-scale house searches took place in the suburbs of Warsaw. During the action around 400 refugees were detained. Subsequently there were reports of further arrests. In November 1998 the first charter flights transported detainees from Poland to Colombo, Sri Lanka and Bucharest, Romania. Already by the end of October, the Roma had been the target of a series of crackdowns called "Akcja Obcy" ("Operation Abroad"). In a hotel near Katowice, police and special forces arrested 294 Romanies, among them 126 children. They were detained in a stadium, the authorities took photographs and fingerprints. In the following night, most of them were deported to Bucharest with military airplanes. Each person was only allowed to take 10 kilos of luggage with him/her. According to the deportees, police also seized all other belongings, among them several thousand D-Mark and around 30 cars. (:: source, de)

4. Migration management

The so-called "programs for voluntary returns" are another part of the plan to implement deportation-policies effectively. The principle is simple: those who don't have a permanent legal status, may leave; but those who don't leave voluntary are forced to do so. "Voluntary returns" do of course correspond better with one of the alleged basic values of European societies - humaneness - than deportations do. (see for example :: UK: No deportations to Iraq! and :: IOM Bribing Asylum Seekers to Return Home)

The current legislative practice in EU-member states is thereby responsible for the facts, that more and more people lose their legal status. Especially for them, the scenario described above applies. Current examples from Austria are the new legal situations :: illegalizing bi-national marriages or new regulations concerning the residency of :: sex-workers and artists. In many cases, people who had already achieved a permanent legal residency in Austria over the years, are suddenly illegalised through new laws. Shortly after these acts were passed, there were already demands that even migrants with a legal status should be "invited" to return on a voluntary basis.

At the same time, there are discussions within the EU on how to legalise the mass-employment of yet immigrants without documents. In fact, this measure would presumably neither change their working conditions nor the lack of societal security. However, it would be ensured, that manpower would be available if needed - and if not, the people are supposed to leave the country. In the following year they will again be able to apply for work...

It's quite obvious that lots of institutions, instruments and methods have to be developed in order to implement such policies. This is also the reason for cross-nationals organisations such as the :: IOM or the :: ICMPD to become more important. Their employees - who have the status of diplomats - are the politicians source of ideas and strategies. They call themselves migration managers. Their tasks include the development of detention-centers outside - and partially also inside - the fortress as well as its operation. Furthermore, these agencies are responsible for the management of deportations and "voluntary" return programs, but also for immigration programs. The US, for instance, not only funds several immigration programs, it also finances special programs for integration in order to teach patriotism to the new, however temporary, workforce. Apparently these organisations are also involved in the recruitment process of the seasonal labour.

Another important aspect is the consultation of states in South-east Europe, Africa and Asia in order to harmonize migration policies abroad according to those within the EU. In addition to studies on migration developments, international conferences on "illegal immigration" are being held, where government representatives and border police agents meet with the accordant consulting companies. The cross-national organisations act as a mediator between the state representatives and the private businesses. In practice, IOM in Vienna, for example, books the flights for their "voluntary return program" directly at the airline.

5. United only for security...

Many strategies were discussed in Vienna during the conference between May 3 and May 5, 2006 - too many to elaborate on all of them here in detail. Hosting the event, Liese Prokop, Austria's minister for home affairs from the conservative party ÖVP, stated that "global threats (...) demand global answers". In this respect it seems interesting to consider the catchy slogans which were used to describe those "global threats": the "fight against organised crime", the "problem of illegal migration", "protection from human trafficking", "drugs", "abuse of the internet" and so on. One can't help asking for the aim of this fight against all "evil"... obviously, that must be more "security". The conference was attended by representatives from more than 50 countries and many international organisations - "an expression of the increased importance of inner security and its external relations", as stated in the Viennese Declaration. The programme for the conference was as follows:

On the first day, the EU-ministers for justice and home affairs met with their colleagues from the US, and agreed to stronger co-operation. According to a news-report on ORF, Austria's broadcasting corporation, the participating ministers had released a common statement, in which "they declared justice and home affairs to be one of their main priorities in foreign policy. Furthermore they agreed on co-operation especially as far as common threats such as terrorism and illegal immigration are concerned."

On day two, the ministers for home affairs of the current EU-council presidency - Austria - and those of the forthcoming presidencies - Finland, Germany, Slovenia and Portugal - met with their colleagues from Russia and the US.

Finally, on May 4 and May 5, 2006, an "International Conference for Inner Security" was held. According to an official statement, the "Vienna Declaration on Security Partnership" was adopted (see below). Moreover, a convention on police co-operation was signed. In a statement, Liese Prokop declared that "such a broad dialogue between the EU and third party states is unique in European history" and added that she was "especially pleased that all this took place under the Austrian presidency." She then continued, that "the countries from the Balkans are being brought noticeably closer to the Schengen-standards of police co-operation."

6. Vienna Declaration

The :: Vienna Declaration on Security Partnership can be seen as the basis of increased EU-influence on it's neighbouring countries. The main issue, that the agreement deals with, is police-co-operation in fields such as mutual exchange of information, common investigation-teams, or cross-border collaborations on observation or extradition. In practice, the declaration marks another leap in the repression against unwanted and oppressed people.

The object of EU's new neighbourhood-policies are it's member-states as well as neighbouring countries, whereas the status of Russia and the US is that of an observer. In the definition of goals, the problems of terrorism, organised crime, corruption and "illegal immigration" were merged as usual. Besides, the paper emphasises the quest for "action-orientated solutions" as well as stresses the importance of corresponding propaganda for new regulations, democracy, basic rights and "good governance" in order to guarantee the perpetuation of inner security. The declaration also talks a lot about "international standards", which in fact means nothing less than the deprivation of many people's basic rights. Austria's role is quite remarkable in this respect. Already during its EU-presidency in 1998, a strategy-paper on asylum and migration had appeared, suggesting the nullification of the Geneva Refugee Convention. Although this suggestion could not be put into practice, the ongoing tightening of asylum laws in all EU-member states points at this direction.

Clear economic interests are also an aspect of the policies described above. The EU aims at a leading role on the world's economic markets, despite strong competition like large "free-trade-zones" such as China. The creation of a :: Euro-mediterranean free-trade-zone (de) is one of the EU's strategies in this struggle. However, this can't prevent the fact that many companies continue to move their production to low-wage countries - mainly because it is not yet possible to cut down social, legal and environmental standards in the EU to those existing in low-wage countries. In order to compensate this competitive disadvantage, the co-operation between governmental means of repression and their private counterparts is being optimized. This way freedom of trade can be assured on the one hand, while on the other, it is possible to restrain and control the people's freedom of movement. In this context it is important to state that the reality of secret migration is being recognised as such by the authorities. Their reaction, however, is to criminalise the support of refugees, allegedly in order to protect their human rights. At the same time it is completely ignored that exactly these restrictive migration policies are mainly responsible for human trafficking.

Recapitulate, the EU basically strives for better co-operation between the countries of origin and those receiving in the field of migration. In order to achieve this goal, travelling documents are being made more forgery-proof, biometric databases are being established, functional border-control-systems are being implemented globally and greater training is given to police border patrols, and customs agents. Furthermore, there is the wish to use the experts' knowledge as well as existing capacities of the accordant corporations more efficiently. On top of everything, the "dialogue in partnership" between the EU and key-regions - especially in Eastern Europe and in Africa - should be strengthend, in order to establish mutual agreements and guarantee their implementation. In addition, rights, duties and restrictions shall be (re)defined for counties of origin, transit and reception.

As stated in the Vienna Declaration, there is more public consciousness needed - however, not in the intended spirit, but in order to prevent those plans of neo-colonialisation from being realised!

7. Further information

Articles on
:: Laboratorio Australia: Setting the benchmark for world's worst practice (13. Apr 2006)
:: The European Migration Regime - Camps and Externalisation of Borders (30. Apr 2006)
:: Migrations, fundamental rights and freedom of movement (19. Jun 2006)
:: german only: Katastrophenszenarien und Abschottungsvisionen (13. Jul 2006)
:: Information on the euro-african Conferences on Migration, Rabat, July 2006

Statewatch analysis:
:: "Killing me softly? 'Improving access to durable solutions' - doublespeak and the dismantling of refugee protection in the EU" (pdf, July 2004)
:: The fallacies of the EU-Africa dialogue on immigration: EU-African ministerial conference on immigration, 10 and 11 July 2006

Recommended websites:
:: Statewatch Observatory on EU asylum and immigration policy
:: Migreurop network call: Resettlement vs right of asylum
:: Melting Pot Europe
:: Institute of Race Relations (IRR)
:: European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)
:: Pro Asyl
:: No Camps! European appeal Against the creation of camps at European borders
:: No Fortress Europe! Campaign to shut down temporary hoding centres in Europe

More recommended website (mainly in german)
:: Forschungsgesellschaft Flucht und Migration (FFM)
:: Flüchtlingsrat Hamburg
:: Büren-Gruppe Paderborn
:: asylkoordination Österreich (Asylum Co-ordination Austria)

:: Vienna Declaration on Security Partnership (05. May 2006) - hole document at
:: EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 27-28 April 2006 in Luxembourg, press release
:: Draft Council Conclusions on improved operational cooperation on joint return operations by air (EU doc no: 8246/06)
:: EU Commission on Regional Protection Programmes (COM(2005)388 final)
:: Draft Council Conclusions on common European asylum system (EU doc no: 8240/06)
:: Refugee Fund and management of migration flows - Outcome of Working Party on Migration and Expulsion (EU doc no 7723/06)

Official website:
:: Austrian EU Presidency 2006

This article was published :: in german on 09. May 2006. The translation, published on 24. July 2006, was only updated with the information on the joint charterdeportation on 12th of June 2006. The :: Ministerial Conference on Migration and Developement, from 10.-11. July 2006 in Rabat, Morocco, shows one further step of EU's antiimmigration policy.