On May 15, Switzerland will vote on the NoFrontex referendum. Over 80 grassroots groups have succeeded in getting the media and political parties to deal more forcefully with the issue of European external borders in the coming months. Frontex, the official European authority for border protection has been increasingly upgraded since 2015. On May 15, Switzerland will vote on the NoFrontex referendum. Over 80 grassroots groups have succeeded in getting the media and political parties to deal more forcefully with the issue of European external borders in the coming months. Frontex, the official European authority for border protection has been increasingly upgraded since 2015. The Federal Council’s decision in the fall of 2021 even grants Frontex its own personnel. Yet it has long been known that Frontex is involved in systematic violations of human rights and international law.
Frontex is also active in the Mediterranean, where collaboration with the so-called Libyan coast guard is one of the agency’s core tasks. Why Seebrücke Switzerland says NO against Frontex on May 15 we have summarized in the position below.
More than 44,000 people have already lost their lives trying to reach Fortress Europe. Nevertheless, Europe continues to adhere to a brutal policy of sealing off at all costs. Instead of spending even one franc on rescuing people in distress at sea, the border protection agency Frontex is being militarized and increased in funding and personnel. In 2022, the EU will provide Frontex with about half a billion euros, a third of which will go to aerial surveillance. This is to monitor groups of people on coasts, in hiding places, in boats and camps, and to keep them away from EU borders as early as possible. This surveillance is intended to prevent people seeking protection from applying for asylum in the EU. This is often done through forcible illegal pushbacks or other forms of physical and psychological violence. Although there are numerous evidences and reports about these brutal practices, nothing has been done by the EU so far. Frontex has become the symbol of Europe’s externalized migration regime, which has taken the active decision to continue a brutal and inhumane closure day after day by military means, ignoring international standards and rights without having to answer for it. Further arming Frontex is not the solution we need! The financing of unpunished and inhuman structures must not be further supported by the state!
By outsourcing border protection to agencies like Frontex, member states hand over the responsibility for the ongoing psychological and physical violence against people seeking protection to external actors. On the basis of European security cooperation, all Schengen member states have so far accepted and supported this system without hesitation – including Switzerland. Switzerland contributes financially and in terms of personnel to Frontex. Until 2027, an annual contribution of 61 million Swiss francs has been granted, which represents 5% of the total Frontex budget. By supporting Europe’s inhumane sealing-off policy, Switzerland is complicit in thousands of deaths every year at Europe’s external borders. On May 15, 2022, there will now be the first opportunity to influence the European migration regime from below and not to accept the racist actions and decisions forced upon us.
The Swiss electorate can send a signal across Europe with a NO to Frontex funding on May 15; against Frontex and the inhumane European isolationist policy of which it has become a symbol; for the fact that a more humane European migration policy is possible and for the fact that the existing migration regime must and will no longer be accepted.
A “No” vote invalidates the narrative that nothing can be done as a single country and provides a starting point for people and movements that want to fundamentally change the European migration regime. The vote also allows for a long overdue critical public debate in Switzerland on the racist European policy of isolation and the role that Switzerland plays in it, which is largely ignored by the public. It is essential, however, that the people affected by the migration regime, who are almost exclusively excluded from the vote, are given an appropriate platform in the public discourse.
Militarization and armament of Frontex are intentionally used to make Europe further inaccessible for people on the run. With the financing of Frontex, Switzerland therefore supports not only the systematic violation of human rights, but also a system of inherent violent structures, which is embodied by Frontex.
Seebrücke therefore says NO to Frontex on May 15, because instead it needs…
… an end to the personnel, financial and technical support of all Frontex operations and no further increase of the Frontex budget or further powers of the border protection agency!
… protection and safe escape routes for all fleeing people!
… a governmental European rescue program!
… FERRIES NOT FRONTEX!