This morning peace activists take action at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency (EDA). They are sitting in a pool of red paint to stop people entering the conference. Catherine Ashton, Claude-France Arnauld and other European top-politicians are convening with the CEOs of the arms industry.
Pictures of the action : http://www.vredesactie.be/nl/flickr/set/72157642996303805
With their action they protest against the disproportionate influence of the European arms industry on the EU security and defence policy. On this conference, CEOs of the arms industry are given the stage to hand over their wish-lists to the EU.
“The arms industry determines where the EU is spending its money”, the activists state. “For the arms industry, armed conflicts world-wide are a source of income. With red paint we visualise the bloodshed from which the arms-industry is profiting.”
Future investments in the development of weapon technology are a central theme of the conference, titled “European Defence Matters”. Three out of five panelists in a discussion on this topic are CEOs from the European arms-industry . “In the first place, the arms industry wants to make profit. The wishes of the industry do not automatically lead to a secure Europe in a better world. Therefore, it is very worrying that their representatives are given the most prominent place around the table when desired investments are discussed” says Tom Cox, spokesperson of Vredesactie.
One of the four official functions of the EDA is to strengthen the European arms industry . Tom Cox: “Advancing military Europe and strengthening the arms industry go hand in hand for EDA”
“But does a strong arms industry lead to a secure Europe?”
The European arms manufacturers have been the regular subject of controversy. One of the biggest is the Italian company Finmeccanica, parent company of AgustaWestland. In Belgium this company is famous for a corruption case around the purchase of helicopters in the 1990s. In 2012 a helicopter contract between India and the same company was cancelled after the bribes the company had payed came to light. Other big European arms manufacturers have been condemned or our under investigation for corruption or tax evastion. This does not withhold EDA from rolling out the red carpet for their representatives.
Critical voices are unwanted at the EDA conference, which is strictly on invitation only. The decisions on security and defence on EU level take place without any public debate, but in close cooperation with the arms industry. Also for the European Commission, the Council and the European parliament, increasing the profits of the defence and security sector is a determining factor in their positions on EU security and defence policy. This is a dangerous conflict of interest which mainly leads to more expenditure on new weapon technology.
With their action the activists are protesting against the evolution towards a military Europe tailored to the needs of the arms industry. The action is part of the campaign “Ctrl+Alt+EU: No Military Europe” of Vredesactie and Agir pour la Paix.
Press contact: 0476 718 218 (Tom Cox)
 Program and speakers on the conference: http://www.eda.europa.eu/info-hub/events/annual-conference
 Mission and four official functions of EDA: http://www.eda.europa.eu/Aboutus/Whatwedo/Missionandfunctions
 Conclusions of the EU summit of 19-20 December 2013: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/140245.pdf