VPRO Tegenlicht

Superfortress Europe

Money, knowledge and technology in exchange for shifting Europe’s borders.

The budget Brussels makes available for European border protection has increased by billions in the past few years. The reason: terrorism and the growing numbers of refugees. New surveillance technology is a growth market that is literally gaining ground because of all the deals Brussels is making with so-called third countries: After the Turkey Deal, agreements are now also being made with countries such as Niger, Ethiopia and Sudan. Money, knowledge and technology in exchange for shifting Europe’s borders.

Europe has an external border that is 50,000 kilometres long, if you include the sea. That is over 15 times as long as the border between the United States and Mexico, where the new American president Donald Trump wants to build a wall. In Europe too, fences and walls have been constructed at borders, both visible and invisible.

border control

Customs departments and police services at our outer borders and the ring of so-called ‘third countries’ surrounding the European Union are being trained in modern border control. More and more money, energy and materiel are being allocated in order to keep refugees out and Europe safe. Since the attacks in Belgium, France and Germany, a fear of terrorists among the refugees has led to migration and security policy becoming inextricably linked.

strategic importance

A country such as Niger, the least developed country in the world according to the United Nations, last year suddenly received visits from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, and Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders. What strategic importance does this Sahel state have for Europe? Just like their neighbours, they will have to dissuade, stop and take back migrants for us. For these countries, in turn, migration is a strong bargaining chip when it comes to European money. In this way, European borders are moving ever further outward.

With: Martin Pedersen Martin Lemberg-Pedersen (Danish researcher at Aalborg University), Ibrahim Diallo (journalist Radio Sahara), Olivier Neola (deputy head of mission - EUCAP Sahel Niger), Rhissa Feltou (mayor of Agadez) and President Mahamadou Issoufou, head of state of the Republic of Niger.

Director: Shuchen Tan
Research: Marijntje Denters

(This is VPRO Backlight’s contribution to the pan-European investigative journalism project ‘Security for Sale’, in which newspaper and television journalists from 10 European countries are working together, an initiative of the online journalism platform De Correspondent.)