Dozens of citizens are trying to enter the European Parliament building today. With alarm clocks, bells and sirens they tried to wake up the Members of the European Parliament. “We don’t want any public money going to the arms industry”, says one of the activists. “The EU is only following the agenda of the big defence companies who have no interest in a peacefull sollution for conflicts . It is time our representatives listen to European citizens instead of heeding the interests of the arms industry.”
In the coming months, the European Parliament en Member States will be discussing the establishment of a European Defence Fund, aimed at supporting the arms industry. Europe wants to spend 40 billion euros on subsidies for research, development and procurement of new arms. “Outrageous”, says Bram Vranken of the Belgian peace organisation Vredesactie. “In times of austerity, the European Union is subsidizing an industry which is exporting death and conflict."
“Funding the arms industry will not make the world a better place”, explains one of the participants to passers-by at the European Parliament. “The European Defence Fund will not lead to more security. On the contrary. It will only lead to more arms exports, more violence, more war.”
Powerful arms lobby
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 on the European Defence Fund was heavily dominated by the arms industry. Civil society nor the European Parliament were given any substantial input on these far reaching decisions. Some proposals made by the European Commission were almost literally copied from recommendations made by the arms lobby.
The European Defence Fund is leading to an unprecedented acceleration in the militarization of the EU and only serves one purpose: sustaining the competitiveness of the arms industry. The question, which weapons should be developed and if they are actually needed, is not even being asked.
"If we're going to outsource the European security policy to the defence indsutry, not much of the European peace project will be left", says Vranken. “The European Defence Fund 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.”
Background: The European Defence Fund
The European Defence Fund exists out of two components:
1. A military research programme of 500 million euros a year. This programme would include the development of controversial technologies such as drones and killer robots.
2. A ‘capacity fund’ of five billion euros a year to guarantee common procurement and development of weapons by Member States. Member States are expected to finance 80 percent of this fund, while the European Union will contribute 20 percent of total costs. Member states' contributions to the Defence Fund will not be taken into account in their budget deficits. In other words, governments have to cut on social security, education, health care and justice, but spending billions on new weapon systems would be permitted.
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