Saturday

29th Apr 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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party