Apostolis Fotiadis

Despite the Internal Security Fund (ISF) will be a key factor in shaping population and border control mechanisms during the next six years throughout the EU, its importance and scope is still very often underestimated by the public as well as organisations directly affected by it. The complete picture of the European Commission’s investment in security and surveillance equipment in the next six years, facilitated in a great extent through ISF, can provide a good base for reflection regarding the security environment within immigration policy will evolve.

National ISF budget proposals are not made publicly accessible by the Commission and many of the procurements budgeted on them are considered classified by national authorities.

The Greek National ISF Programme was leaked last month by the British Whistler-blower Statewatch (http://www.statewatch.org/news/2015/sep/eu-isf-nat-programme.pdf). It was submitted mid July to the EC including extensive proposals for projects on the VISA and BORDER CONTROL fields.

Though the program is named “National” it is striking that the national priorities expressed in the document match entirely the EC’s policy priorities on surveillance, data processing systems and various aspects of the security apparatus the EU is promoting on its external borders.

Among other Greece is asking funding for upgrading and completing development of the VISA Information System as well as to facilitate upgrades necessary for entry-exit system (Smart Borders package) – 4.269.000 euro

In the frame of developing its EUROSUR capacities the country will get 67.500.000 euro. This money goes…

– for the extension of the automated surveillance system on the rest of river Evros (partly established since 2011-12)
– for development of an Integrated Maritime Surveillance System (HCG) by mid 2021
– for supporting the implementation of Integrated Border Management, Greece will expand and develop further its Automated Identification System (AIS)
– for development + relocation of the National Coordination Center

To enhance National Capacity it gets another 24.997.725 euro…

– to purchase special means for First Reception System focusing the investment in screening and debriefing procedures
– for investment plan for protection + surveillance of external borders include the use of modern tech. meaning equipment such as mobile scan units, mobile heartbeat detection devices, CCTV Camera Systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (aka Drones), software for the extraction of info from mobiles, special analysis software
– and for 4 Coastal Patrol Vessels for HCG

To acquire equipment to match FRONTEXs needs for equipment it receives for…
-2 Coastal Patrol Vessels (27m)
-1 Thermal Vision Vehicle (540.000)

For operational expenses on VISA and BORDER branches its another over 63.223.275 million

This amounts in total to 187.530.000 m euro, which is the 2/5ths of the 470 m available regular budget funds for Greece to address immigration and refugee policy needs until 2020. The size of expenditure vindicates the impression that in the following years ISF will play the role of cash flow for the securitisation of border controls policy the EC is pushing ahead since its previous budget. It is important that the EC makes transparent all funding information for the ISF so European public opinion gets a full picture of the size and the kind of investment directed towards national security mechanisms.

According to the Commission other main beneficiaries of the fund during 2015-2016 will be Malta, Italy, Spain France and Poland, which demonstrates the focus of the fund on EU external border securitisation.

(For background reading on ISF role in promoting EC’s securitisation agenda see here: http://wp.me/p3HsmP-cd)