Ben Hayes is a TransNational Institute (TNI) researcher who has worked for the civil liberties organisation Statewatch since 1996, specialising in EU Justice and Home Affairs law, police cooperation, border controls, surveillance technologies and counter-terrorism policies.
Ben also works with the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR, Berlin), and has been retained as a consultant to a number of international human rights, social justice and development organisations. He has a PhD from Magee College (Derry/Londonderry) awarded by the University of Ulster in 2008.
In an interview this month for the TransNational Institute Ben takes a critical look at EU Security policy, strangely named “A Secure Europe in a Better World”.
He shows in this article how that policy has been pieced together, its strengths and more commonly its weaknesses, and some of its failures, and states that politically, the main reason for the strategy was to justify a whole EU apparatus.
EU watchers will know that this entire security industry, which didn’t even exist before 2003, worth an estimated €100bn (2008 figure) is potentially the biggest threat to the civil rights and freedoms of the 500 million citizens of the EU27.
He concludes the article with this serious note:
I think the obvious priority is the way the focus on security is being used against protest movements and continues to be done so.
We need to challenge the homeland security industry – who have become rich and powerful as a result of the outsourcing of the War on Terror and which one day could rival the military industrial complex.
They have an interest in the endless expansion of the security-industrial complex, which has very serious implications for way the society is policed, and worrying implications for protest movements.
While there are people within movements focused and working on this, I don’t think security and civil liberties at forums such as the European Social Forum or World Social Forum are high enough up the agenda.
It is well worth a read at the TNI
In a separate document, published by Ben called Homeland Security comes to Europe, he headlines the paper:
The legacy of the “war on terror” is a new way of thinking about security and a cash cow for the defence industry.
He describes, for me at least, how this monster has been born and is quickly becoming an unstoppable beast, one that we should all be fearful of, rather than seeing it as a benign benefit to our well-being.
In the name of ‘security’, western governments are now going to great lengths to integrate their police forces, customs and immigration services into seamless national and international intelligence and law enforcement systems.
Passport checks and immigration controls are being replaced by security fences and sprawling e-borders linked to dedicated border police forces; private security, high-tech surveillance and police intelligence is coalescing around the policing of mega-events (summits, protests, the Olympic games etc.) and ‘critical infrastructure protection’ (airports, financial centres, power stations etc.).
‘policing’ is becoming ever more ‘proactive’, based not on responding to crime and disorder, but identifying and neutralising security risks; a plethora of public and private bodies are being incorporated into the drive for more ‘security’.
For me, this tells me that we are very quickly shifting from a free people able to live our lives as we see fit, to an existence in a very tightly controlled and regulated space.
Fuelled by a new politics of fear and insecurity, the corporate interest in selling security technology and the national security interest in buying security technology has converged at the EU level.
Ben’s summation probably says it all:
Despite the often benign intent behind collaborative European security ‘research’, the EU’s security policy is coalescing around a high-tech blueprint for a new kind of security.
It envisages a future world of red zones and green zones; external borders controlled by military force and internally by a sprawling network of physical and virtual security checkpoints; public spaces, micro-states and ‘mega events’ policed by high-tech surveillance systems and rapid reaction forces.
It is no longer just a case of “sleepwalking into” or “waking up to” a “surveillance society”, as the UK’s Information Commissioner famously warned, it feels more like turning a blind eye to the start of a new kind of arms race, one in which all the weapons are pointing inwards.
Living or Existence? Welcome to the EUSSR, for them its just an industry, to you it becomes a prison.
Here is the EU on the subject, A Study on the Competitiveness of the Security Industry for the Directorate-General Enterprise & Industry. A wonderful insight to the mindset of those who would control us.