The arms industry has a tight grip on Europe. For the third time in only a couple of weeks, Vredesactie shows how the arms industry is lobbying the EU. Today peace activists take action at the European Defence Industry Summit, where arms lobbyists and policy makers are meeting to discuss the future of Europe’s defence.
Activists warn the attendees and policy makers of the danger of the arms lobby for peace and security. "We refuse to outsource our security to the arms industry”, says one of the activists. “That will only lead to more arms exports, more violence, and more war”.
“Warning! The arms lobby seriously harms you and others around you”, says one of the activists to a passer-by at the entrance of the Egmont Palace, where a lobby-event is taking place organised by the arms industry. High-level European politician such as Federica Mogherini and the European Commissioner for internal markets Elzbieta Bieńkowska are attending the summit. This lobby-event is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of meetings between the defence industry and the European Union. According to information obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Vredesactie, 37 meetings took place between the European Commission and the arms industry for the start of a European military research programme. “It is unacceptable that the European defence policy is outsourced to the arms industry”, says Hans Lammerant from the Belgian peace organisation Vredesactie. “The European Union should not answer to the arms industry, but should be accountable to us, European citizens.”
Powerful arms lobby
The arms lobby has an influential position within the European Union. In five years time, the combined lobbying budget of the top ten of the European arms companies has doubled, from 2.8 million euros to 5.6 million euros a year. Not without results.
The report ‘Securing Profits, how the arms lobby is hijacking Europe’s defence policy’ published last month by Vredesactie, shows how the decision making process for the European Defence Fund was heavily dominated by the arms industry. Some proposals made by the European Commission were almost literally copied from recommendations made by the arms lobby. Neither civil society nor the European Parliament were given any substantial input on these far-reaching decisions. Earlier this month, European member states launched PESCO, Permanent Structured Cooperation. The 23 participating member states committed to spending more on defence and on the procurement of military equipment. Central to PESCO is the 40 billion European Defence Fund. “The European Defence Fund is a gift to the arms industry” says Lammerant. "It will not lead to more security, because it is not meant to lead to more security. The fund is an industrial stimulus fund for the major European arms-multinationals.”