“Can privatization kill?”

“Can privatization kill” asked Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen in an op-ed in the New York Times last year. Gammeltoft-Hansen is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies DIIS and tomorrow will present a book about the migration industry and the commercialisation of international migration. 

A provocative question – particularly in times, where privatization is all over us from caretaking over education and even to security. Yet, aren’t provocative questions exactly what journalists and indeed academics should ask?

On today’s front page of the Euobserver is Luludja, a Bulgarian Roma woman migrated to France where she sells roses and her body to pay the debt to her traffickers. The story is documented by a team of journalists who did crossborder research from Germany, France and Bulgaria. They asked the obvious question about the illegal migration business, documenting heartbreakingly how Luludja’s hope to achieve a better situation for herself and her family was abused. The team observed the troubling problem of Roma migration in Europe and decided to not just observe but ask. They wanted to document. They fulfill their task in the chain of asking the right questions in a democratic system.

Gammeltoft-Hansen and his co-author Ninna Nyberg Sørensen – senior academics in the fields of law and sociology/anthropology – take the question one step further. They look into the systemic problems of migration business. Not only clandestine and illegal activity but the obvious too. Visible on state budgets and carried out in the name of democratic governments. “Migration has become big business, and international migration has become increasingly commercialized,” they write about their observations in the invitation to a seminar tomorrow. “Over the last few decades, a host of new commercial opportunities have emerged that capitalize both on the migrants’ desires to migrate and the struggle by governments to manage migration. From the rapid growth of specialized transportation and labour contracting companies, to multinational businesses managing detention centres or establishing border security, to the organized criminal networks profiting from human smuggling and trafficking.”

So now – what should be the next move? This is the provocative question into the so called European Public Sphere. How should Europe react to its serious problems? Some of the necessary questions have been asked and documented. Academic analysis allows to see a larger pattern. On the democratic to-do-list now are public debate and political action. 


  1. #1 by Betterworld on February 21, 2013 - 7:23 pm

    Failure to institute a proper system of migratory control across Europe has lead to the growth of hate-politics leading to right wing populists winning seats in many national parliaments. The Council of Ministers sits idyll by whilst the conditions for fascism ferment.

  2. #2 by Aladar Lakatos on February 22, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    Curently Bolivia nationalizes Spanish company. Its 3rd company in 10 months. Good job.
    How Spain get into it is explained in books:
    1,The Blood Bankers, by Henry. Free on books.google.
    2, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, by Chang.
    3,Unholy Trinity: The IMF, World Bank and WTO.
    4,Confesions of an economic hitman.
    5, Rulers of Evil

    +Read Silvio Gesell, Gotfried Feder and Smedley Buttler will put you on path to understand system we live in

    Ecuador’s Correa vows to make socialist revolution ‘irreversible’

    We will kick Brussels sitting muscles as well. Sooner or later

  3. #3 by Marc on February 23, 2013 - 4:26 am

    The EU itself is the threat. This undemocratic Soviet-esque monstrosity thinks it has the right to overrule national democracies.

    We must not allow the Eurosoviet to ferment much longer.

    Down with the EU and its banker friends!

  4. #4 by Erwin Black on February 23, 2013 - 10:59 am

    Do free markets, privatization, and open competition help limit corruption, as their advocates often argue? Or do they actually create new opportunities for graft and abuse? The political scientist Warner deserves credit for tackling these issues, but her study begs more questions than it answers. Warner looks at economic liberalization in the European Union over the past 20 years and suggests that the process not only has failed to root out corruption but has actually generated it as well. The book is full of detailed evidence of how European business and political leaders have continued to line their pockets even as the EU single market has progressed. The question, however, is, compared with what? Are EU member states more or less corrupt than before they began to liberalize? How do their levels of corruption compare with those of other advanced industrial countries? How do they compare with those of less integrated or less economically liberal states? (Rather well, actually, according to Transparency International.) These issues are inherently difficult to research, but Warner’s sweeping implication (that the EU integration process has made the member states more corrupt) is far stronger than her actual conclusion (that the free market “may not be sufficient to root out corruption”).

    The Best System Money Can Buy: Corruption in the European Union, by Carolyn M. Warner

    1 Corruption Dynamics in the European Union
    2 Does Competition in the European Union Corrupt?
    3 “Corruption Is Our Friend”: Exporting Graft in Infrastructure, Arms, and Oil
    4 The Myth of the Market: Privatization
    5 Decentralization, Democracy, and Graft
    6 The Corruption of Campaign and Party Financing
    7 The Pathologies of an International Organization
    8 The European Union, the International Political
    Economy, and Corruption

    Against a familiar backdrop of multiple scandals in Spain, many of them involving property deals and local government, Dr Lapuente Giné asks why countries like Spain, France, Italy or Portugal “have for years shown levels of corruption and governance closer to those of developing nations with authoritarian governments, than advanced capitalist democracies, which have belonged to the OECD for decades”.

  5. #5 by J lombardi on February 26, 2013 - 10:13 pm

    One of the greatest dangers of privatisation is the scandal of so-called freelance workers. Many people are exploited by unscrupulous companies, some of whom have lucrative contracts with EU institutions and bodies. It’s time we had a clear definition of what a freelance worker really is. At the moment for many companies it’s just a way of avoiding paying social charges and keeping wages low. Wake up at the Commission!!!