Sunday

20th Aug 2017

Investigation

EU to spend €50mn on private security in Afghanistan

  • Some estimates say up to 40,000 private security staff currently work in the war-torn country (Photo: Nato/Liepke Plancke/AVDD/RNLAF)

The EU's external action service (EEAS) plans to spend up to €50 million on private security guards for its Afghanistan mission over the next four years.

It unveiled the tender on Thursday (10 May), saying the money would be spent on "protection of staff, their families in the country, visitors from headquarters or other EU institutions, the premises and the goods of the EU delegation in Afghanistan."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The contract - valued at between €30 million and €50 million plus VAT - is to cover at least 100 security guards, as well as "mobile patrol teams, equipment [and] armoured cars."

It is aiming to sign up a big company with prior experience in Afghanistan - the winning bidder must have an annual turnover of at least €20 million and 400 staff.

Five companies are eligible to compete - the Hungarian-based Argus, Canada's Gardaworld, British firms G4S and Page Group, and French company Geos - after getting on an EEAS private security shortlist last year.

The tender also stipulates applicants must present "an official document issued from the competent Afghan authority that certifies that the company is entitled to operate security services in Afghanistan" before the contract is signed.

It must also "be compliant with the Karzai decree concerning private security companies in Afghanistan (Presidential Decree 62)," referring to a ruling by Afghan leader Hamid Karzai in 2010 regulating the sector.

The EEAS has faced criticism for its handling of a recent tender on Libya after it signed a €10 million contract with G4S despite the fact it does not have permission from Libya's post-war authority, the National Transitional Council (NTC), to operate on its territory. The EEAS says it does not need permission. But the NTC says it does.

The legal situation in Afghanistan creates room for confusion.

Decree 62 initially envisaged booting out all private security firms after a series of scandals. President Karzai later allowed derogations for embassy security and kept postponing the deadline for implementation, with the EEAS currently unsure if it is in force yet or not.

The EU compound in Kabul is home to around 75 people when it is fully staffed. Talks are ongoing to bunch up with the Kabul embassies of a number of smaller EU countries in future to save money.

The delegation is currently guarded by Page Group, which employs Gurkhas - Nepalese-origin former soldiers who are respected by EU security chiefs for their "consistency" - the ability to maintain vigilance at a lookout post for hours on end whether in minus-20-degrees-Celsius Kabul winters or plus-45-degree summers.

Foreign companies and embassies were aghast at the original form of the Karzai decree after a number of incidents in which locally-hired security staff attacked their own employers.

EU men with guns: A comedy of errors

The EU foreign service just did a U-turn on a €50mn tender for bodyguards in Kabul, with leaked documents posing questions how a British firm with a frightening track record won it in the first place.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides