On 26 October 2020, German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Özlem Demirel of The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The Italian Ministry of the Interior has commissioned the Leonardo defence group – for EUR 7.2 million – to operate drones to monitor irregular migration in the central Mediterranean. Initially for a year, the firm is to provide up to 1800 flight hours. The drones are reported to have a take-off weight of between 500 and 1000 kg, with a payload of at least 100 kg, and fly at a maximum altitude of 1800 m. The drones for the ‘Polizia di Stato’ and ‘Guardia di Finanza’ police services, stationed at the Sicilian airports of Trapani, Lampedusa or Ragusa, have an operating radius of around 550 km. The aircraft can be controlled out of sight. On board there are electro-optical and infrared sensors, a radar and AIS receiver, and a laser beacon for marking refugee-carrying boats that are detected. The video stream and other surveillance information will be fed in near-real time into the Frontex-operated Eurosur surveillance network via the Italian national contact centre.
1. What EU Member States is the Commission supporting, in connection with what projects, for national procurement of unmanned systems for land, sea or air operations?
2. What drones from which manufacturers are being procured in each case? How much are the individual projects costing, and what costs are being met by the EU?”
On 25 January 2021, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “the Commission services are aware of projects in a number of Member States for which EU funding is used to support activities that include the purchase of drones and other unmanned systems, in particular via the national programmes of the Internal Security Fund (ISF), implemented under shared management.
The abovementioned equipment is purchased by Member States with the aim of carrying out surveillance of the external maritime and land borders of the EU, as well as for security purposes, such as preventing and fighting terrorism and organised crime.
The total EU contribution committed by Member States to date for these projects including the procurement of unmanned vehicles amounts to approximately EUR 15.8 million under the Borders and Visa component of the ISF and approximately EUR 7.5 million under the Police component of the same Fund.
Information on projects funded under the abovementioned programmes is available on the following websites:
— Bulgaria: https://www.mvr.bg/dmp/en/activities/funds/internal-security-fund
— Estonia: www.sisejulgeolekufond.ee
— France: https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/fr/Publications/Fonds-europeen-pour-la-securite-interieure/Projets-co-finances-par-le-FSI-POLICE-pour-la-periode-2014-2020
— Germany: www.innerersicherheitsfonds.de
— Greece: https://www.amifisf.gr/
— Italy: https://fondosicurezzainterna.interno.gov.it/
— Lithuania: http://isf.lt/lt
— Malta: https://eufundsmalta.gov.mt/content/internal-security-fund-isf-2014-2020
— Poland: http://fundusze.mswia.gov.pl/uee/funds/implemented/internal-security-fund-1/12229,Internal-Security-Fund-Instrument-for-financial-support-for-police-cooperation-p.html
The Commission does not have information on the manufacturers that are providing these systems.
The use of this kind of equipment contributes to strengthening the capacity of national authorities to help save lives in the Central Mediterranean and to monitor and prevent other incidents from occurring.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/drone-camera-privacy-safety-gopro-464627/