Frontex is building its own Standing Border Guard Corps to work on border security, border control and deportations. This should be 10,000 persons strong by 2027, though recruitment and training is lagging behind. Frontex wants this corps to be armed, and is in the process of purchasing firearms, but the legal grounds for this are still unclear.
Mid-May Frontex started a tender procedure for the purchase of 2,500 9 x 19 mm semi-automatic pistols and over 3,6 million rounds of ammunition for its border guard corps. It expects to spend €5 million on this in the next two years, with the possibility to prolong the contract for two more years. Other items on the shopping list are bulletproof vests, rubber and telescopic battons and cans of lachrymatory agents.
This contract is another profit opportunity for the arms industry, that has been so influential in shaping EU border and migration policies and is increasingly close to Frontex. In 2019 Frontex already held an ‘industry dialogue’ on weapons and ammunition with the companies Heckler & KOch, SIG Sauer, Glock and Grand Power.
Meanwhile, the legal basis for arming the corps is still very shaky. Last year, as Statewatch wrote, legal analysis by “external experts and a regulatory law firm” concluded that the 2019 Regulation does not provide a legal basis for acquiring, registering, storing or transporting weapons in Poland. Since then Frontex has managed to reach an agreement with Poland, but not yet with other countries. In spite of this, it suggested that it could have armed guards in Greece by this summer, though this could be achieved by using a so called ‘bridging solution’ in which the guns are registered to Greece and then made available to Frontex.