In the run up to the NATO summit that will take place later this week in Brussels, a group of peace activists is occupying the offices of the European Commission. With their action they denounce the steps the European Union is taking to start a military research programme carried out by the arms industry.
This morning activists entered the offices of the European Commission, occupied the building and set up tents. They say they won’t leave as long as the EU does not stop giving money to the arms industry.
“While the Middle-East is burning, the European Union is subsidizing an industry which is exporting death and conflict.”, says one of the activists. “Our security and the security of millions of others is being put at risk for the profit of the arms industry.”
The EU has recently started subsidizing the arms industry with a military research programme. Initially the funding will amount to 90 million euro. This is only a preparatory programme. The European Commission’s long term objective is to set up a full-fledged European Defence Research Programme worth EUR 3.5 billion over 2021-2027.
“Trump may tell NATO member states to increase their defence budget, this does not mean the EU should just foot billions of euros to the arms industry”, says Bram Vranken, spokesperson for the Belgian peace organisation Vredesactie.
Increasing defence budgets is expected to be high on the agenda of the NATO summit this week.
“No Europe tailored to the demands of the arms industry”
The European Commission has put defence high on the agenda with the launch of the European Defence Action Plan. The Action Plan proposes a list of measures aimed at supporting the arms industry.
“That’s no surprise”, says Vranken. “The arms industry is a welcome guest at the European Commission”. Earlier this year internal documents revealed the Commission has had tens of meetings with the arms industry regarding the Preparatory Action on Defence Research.
“Strengthening the arms industry does not lead to a secure Europe in a safer world. On the contrary. European weapons are being used in conflicts worldwide and are a catalyst for violence and conflict”, continues Vranken.
EU member states are responsible for 28,4 percent of worldwide arms exports, according to the research institute SIPRI, including to countries involved in violent conflicts. Almost half of Saudi arms imports are European.
“It’s time the EU realizes funding the arms industry is not a sustainable way to create peace and securtiy. We hope the action today will be a wake-up call for EU policy makers”, says Vranken.
Press contact: Bram Vranken – 0497 13 14 64 -firstname.lastname@example.org