Info and context

Arms companies and their lobbyists feel at home in the EU-institutions. They determine EU-policy, sell their arms and get subsidies for the development of new weapon technology. "What's good for business is good for everybody" is the motto of EU policy makers. But a policy tailored to the needs of the arms industry does not lead to a safer Europe in a better world. On the contrary. Read all about it in the dossier accompanying the campaign "Ctrl+Alt+EU: No Military Europe".

cover van de brochure

Some more background below and in the following articles

For a while now vredesactie has been keeping a close eye on the European Union. Without a doubt it has become a military power. It has the authority, institutions and operational structures to carry out military interventions all over the world. Because of a lack of a common vision on foreign policy there are currently few military missions in name of the EU. In the past few years the European member states have participated in various wars with ever-shifting alliances. Tony Blair was a driving force behind the war in Iraq. France leads the way when its interests in so-called “Françafrique” are in danger. It is an illusion to think that a military Europe would be less of a warmonger than its member states.

The goal: a flourishing arms industry

One of the most perturbing evolutions is the influence of the arms industry on European policy. Whether dealing with common defence tasks, rules for weapons export, the priorities of a European research policy or even immigration policy, the internet, healthcare or international transport, the arms industry knows how to make its mark. The CEOs and lobbyists of the arms industry are regarded as defence and security specialists and they contribute to designing policy. The fact that by definition they are guided by business interests is conveniently forgotten or deemed unimportant. These “expert” know all too wel what their core business is and how they should sell it. In order to become active in ever more markets and policy domains they firstly present every societal phenomenon as a problem. Then they turn every problem into a security problem. And lastly they argue that for every security problem there exists a technological solution. And of course they can deliver that technology at a good price.

The European Defence Agency (EDA)

There is no common vision for a European foreign and defence policy, but one certainty resurfaces again and again: the European Union needs a flourishing arms industry. In EU-newspeak this is called 'an innovative and competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base'. The whole of the EU seems permeated by this obvious truth. Taking care of a flourishing arms industry is one of the most important goals of the European Defence Agency (EDA). There's a reason why weapons manufacturers like the EDA. But the European Commission as well participates eagerly: in 2011 the chairman of the commission Emanuel Barroso and the Commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship Antionio Tajani started a task force to further strengthen the arms industry. In direct dialogue with the arms industry, the European Commission is investigating how it can help that industry to stay competitive on a global scale. Mid-2013 the task force will make its recommendations known.

European research funds for weapon technology: Horizon 2020

On paper the European Union only funds civil research programmes. In practice we know that weapons manufacturers get a nice share of the cake. Starting in 2014 however, new rules will apply. The new financing programme of the EU is called Horizon 2020 and will run from 2014 until 2020.The original proposal of the European Commission reiterated that the research programmes should only lead to civil purposes. But some members of parliament did not like that. Well known allies of the weapons industry such as the German Christian Ehler and the French ex-secret agent Arnaud Danjean submitted amendments to drop that specific phrase from the proposal. The legal framework for Horizon 2020 is not finished yet, but caution is advised.

Denying weapons exports: bad for the arms industry

On top of all that the fortification of the arms industry is a stated goal of the European common standpoint regarding weapons export. In that common standppoint eight criteria were established that must be taken into consideration by the member states when they deliver an weapons export license. But besides all sorts of good principles about democracy and human rights, the member states are also allowed to take into account that refusing a weapons export license is bad for the arms industry. The Wallonian license for the delivery of FN-weapons to the army of Kadhaffi during the Libian revolt is a sad example of the type of result that this “consideration” can engender.