The walls of Europe are steel, technology and fear

While Germany celebrates the 29 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall yesterday, Europe fills itself with fences: physical walls, technological walls and mental walls. They are barriers that do not stop what can not be stopped, but they make the lives of those who want to wall a Europe, closed and infected by the virus of fear, which is more miserable and dangerous. And that is a threat to the liberties.

If in 1990 only the walls of Belfast and Cyprus were in Europe, at least 1,000 kilometers of tanks were built on 14 walls. The report says "Lifting walls, fear and securitization policy in the European Union" of the Delàs Center for Peace Studies and the Transnational Institute. Ten EU Member States have their borders protected against immigration: Spain (with the fences of Ceuta and Melilla), Greece, Hungary (one wall with Croatia and another with Serbia), Bulgaria, Austria, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Outside the EU, Norway and Macedonia have done so.

And the role of borders has been transformed in recent years, especially after the response to the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, when the story of governments was reinforced that immigration posed a threat to security "Before the borders were used to protect the territorial protect the integrity of the states, but the threats are diversified after the attacks of 11-S Mobility is perceived as a suspicious activity and becomes a threat that must be monitored and controlled by expanding control and surveillance systems, "says the study.

At the same time, the Schengen area seems less like a free zone. If three internal police checks were instituted in 2006 – for example in response to the announcement of large demonstrations – what became an exception at the time would become a norm: a maximum of 20 were registered last year.

Shield goes far beyond the European borders and moves to 35 countries of origin and transit of migrants with whom the EU has reached border control regimes. And that while technological control systems grow based on the collection of biometric data that are later used to determine profiles of people and patterns of our movements.

Frontex does not suffer from austerity

All this is not free in the pockets of European taxpayers. In the midst of austerity, the budget of Frontex, the European agency for border control, has skyrocketed from 6.2 million euros in 2005 to 302 million last year. The chapter that has grown the most is that of deportations: from 80,000 euros to 53 million euros in the same period.

This policy of border-based immigration and criminalization of immigration, which started in the 1990s and from 2012 onwards, was accentuated with the increase in the arrival of refugees in Europe, has created a favorable framework for extreme-right discourse. "The story that displaced people arriving in Europe poses a threat, which arises from the policies of the states since the 1990s, is assumed to be from the extreme right and carried through in an alarmist way to the limit", explains Ainhoa ​​Ruiz from Benedict , researcher at the Center Delàs and co-author of the report.

The rise of xenophobia has also created mental walls that have led to a growing political influence of the extreme right, which in turn results in more physical walls. The researchers entered into the extreme right-wing parties of the EU-39 that have once become parliamentary representatives.

In ten countries, xenophobic parties won half a million votes between 2010 and 2018. In Italy, Austria, Finland and Poland, the extreme right is part of the government, while Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary and Sweden have an influence on migration policy. In France, the National Front is at the head of the opposition.

"The mental walls of fear are inextricably linked to the physical walls, and racism and xenophobia legitimize violence at European borders and reinforce the imagination of one interior certainly and one swimming pool uncertain, going back to the medieval medieval fortress, "says the report.

Endangered rights and freedoms

Ruiz warns that not only the rights of people at the door of Europe are at stake, but that the militarization dynamics pose a broader threat to freedoms, because this securitization logic is normalized. "Entering the Schengen area also implies the use of a monitoring society that controls the movements of everyone within the countries, as well as the reinforcement of the external borders," says Ruiz. "Not only are the rights of refugees and migrants being violated, they are also extending a number of operating systems of how we all move: they are data that are stored, analyzed and crossed, and via algorithms. They ultimately generate a level of risk that we adopt for the system. If we accept these security measures, we accept this security model. "

The Mediterranean, a militarized sea

On the land walls that strengthen Europe, it is necessary to add maritime barriers in the form of military operations in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Italy left 2014 Mare Nostrum, its rescue operation in the central Mediterranean, complaining about the lack of solidarity of European partners. The report analyzes seven of the main activities of the European border guard agency Frontex (Indalo, Minerva, Hera, Hermes, Triton, Poseidon and Sofia), the latter in cooperation with NATO. "None of the main European operations in the Mediterranean has been the main mandate of saving people, who are all planning to eradicate crime in the border areas and to stop the arrival of displaced people, which is fueling refugees and migrants. are treated like criminals, "the report emphasizes. The rescue vessels of NGOs, such as the Open arms, they are still unable to work in the area because of the blockade of the Italian authorities.

The last limit: biometrics in a society of


The fort Europa is also built with systems for monitoring, monitoring, analysis and data collection that form a virtual monitoring system for the movement of the population. In 2012, EU-LISA, the European Agency for the operational management of information systems, was of great importance in the area of ​​freedom, security and justice, responsible for the management of computer systems linked to the control of movement, and that fits the processing of data. large scale. These are the most important active systems.


It is a fingerprint bank and other biometric data to identify individuals who are intercepted at the borders without documents, as well as asylum seekers.


The Visa Information System registers all visa applications to enter the Schengen area and also works with biomedical data.


The Schengen Information System controls access to the territory. The security forces that guard the borders can trigger the alarm according to the profile of the people arriving.

Smart edges

It checks the time and place of entry and exit of the EU of all national and third countries and checks whether the temporary access authorizations have been fulfilled. It replaces the stamp of the passport and also compiles fingerprints and facial registers. It also includes the registration of travelers from people who cross the borders of Schengen.


The European travel information and authorization system should enter into force in 2020 and provide access to citizens who do not need a visa to travel to the EU.


It is the Interpol system that involves airlines and the maritime industry and gives them access to the stolen or lost documents database.