The 10th of November arms dealers, lobbyists from the arms industry and policy makers will meet at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency. It’s one of those exemplary events which drives the creation of a military Europe and support for the arms industry. Vredesactie may not be invited, but we will be attending the event all the same. We hope you will be there as well!
While EU member states are forced to cut their budgets for social security, billions of Euros may end up in the hands of the arms industry. Do you want to know how this came about? The 10th of November you can see it with your own eyes. That day the day arms dealers, lobbyists and policy makers meet at the annual conference of the EDA.
The EDA came into existence in 2004 after intensive lobbying by the arms industry. It’s an official EU agency with the explicit task of supporting the arms industry.
Lobby events like the one on the 10th of November are no exception. The EDA has organized dozens of similar events in the past five years. These events almost always take place behind closed doors, excluding critical voices. This approach works. Together with a myriad of networks, working groups and advisory groups they repeat their creed over and over again: in dangerous times there must be more investments in defense and therefore we need a strong and competitive arms industry.
The most striking achievement of this lobbying by the arms industry is that the European Union might start funding the arms industry directly in the near future. The end of October the European Parliament will vote on the funding for a research programme for the development of new weapons. Which weapon technologies will be subsidized is unknown. Who will possess the property rights is also unclear. Even though the subsidy program would cover a budget of 3.5 billion euros.
This would set a precedent. Never before was EU money handed over to the arms industry. This is all the more striking as the EU itself is severely underfunded. The budget for civil research has been reduced and EU debt is increasing.
The EDA has played an important role in putting military research on the political agenda and it would also play a prominent role in future military research projects. The EDA would, in collaboration with the EU member states, decide which research projects would be selected and would also assign the experts assessing the results of the military research.
The turnabout, how did they do it?
Until only a few years ago subsidies for the arms industry were taboo. The members states were rather suspicious towards further defense integration. The European Parliament was adamant that there should be no subsidies for the arms industry. Which role did the EDA play in turning the tide?
Step 1. be the spokesperson for the arms industry
The EDA was founded at the request of the arms lobby and based on their proposals. Javier Solana, former EU minister of foreign affairs, stated in 2007 that the most important objective of the EDA is to ensure that Europe “spends more, spends better and spends together” on military research. The EDA magazine ‘European Defence Matters’ is nothing more than a pr-tool for the industry. It provides “a vehicle for marketing communications for the European defence community, European Defence Matters has unrivaled reach”. Moreover, the EDA ensures “that the message arrives directly on the desk of the people who most matter -be they military officers, politicians or professional managers in governmental institutions and industry.”.
Step 2. Spread ‘independent’ research
The EDA spreads so-called independent research. In a recent study about the EU naval industry, commissioned by the EDA but conducted by the arms industry, the ‘researchers’ are jubilant about the export capacities of the EU naval industry. The study also points out ‘difficulties’. European governments do not invest enough in military research. The study recommends to use EU money for military research. An obvious conclusion if your research is being done by the arms industry.
Step 3. Bring politicians and lobbyists together
“A lot of progress has been made (on arms research), due in part to a constant dialogue with industry”, Jorge Domecq, director of the EDA, said at a lobby event of the Swedish arms company SAAB in Brussels. During his speech Domecq further advocated ‘convincing’ MEP’s of the importance of European subsidies for the arms industry. Undoubtedly, this will also happen at the EDA annual conference the 10th of November. The EDA already promises the conference will be “a unique platform for senior decision-makers to consider how to ensure that the (defence-)sector remains fit-for-purpose in the 21st century.” Federica Mogherini, high representative for foreign affairs, is one of the most important invitees, but also ministers of defence will be present.
“By invitation only” is displayed in clear, red letters on the website of the EDA conference for the 10th of November.
We nevertheless heartily invite you to come to the annual EDA conference. Join us on the 10th of November in Brussels and non-violently disrupt the conference of the European Defence Agency.
You can find more info on how to prepare yourself for non-violent actions, transport and registration on: http://istopthearmstrade.eu/en/dayofaction