CAAT’s Ann Feltham reports on arms industry lobbying for EU subsidies, and the campaign to stop it.
The European Union had its genesis in the vision of post-World War Two leaders who believed that uniting countries economically would end the bloody wars between European neighbours. Military matters were not part of it, being seen as the province of national governments and not the EU. Today the EU’s founders must be spinning in their graves as cooperation for peace and human rights is undermined and the EU inches into the military sphere.
Organisations which are part of the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT), including CAAT in the UK, are working to challenge moves in this direction. ENAAT was only able to afford a EU Programme Officer at the beginning of 2016, and funding remains insecure. However, since starting work Laëtitia Sédou has put the issue of plans to use European public money to subsidise research for arms producers on the agenda. She has also helped us realise just how entrenched in Brussels the arms industry lobby has become.
The EU arms industry thrives on secrecy and lobbied hard to get a Preparatory Action (PA) – a sort of trial project – on military research into the 2017 draft budget. The PA was written by an advisory “Group of Personalities”, more than half of them arms industry representatives. The industry’s long-term aim is to set-up a fully-fledged European Defence Research Programme worth of €3.5 billion over 2021-2027. As in the UK, austerity does not seem to apply to military projects.
The moves towards EU funding for military research have been pushed by the European Commission – the EU’s civil service. Now, however, the proposal for a PA has gone to MEPs. Despite ENAAT’s best efforts, it was passed by the Budget Committee.
As in the UK, the argument being advanced by the arms industry is that it will promote growth and jobs. ENAAT is saying that the truth is, the goal of these subsidies is to preserve the competitiveness of the arms industry and its capacity to export abroad. This would include sales to countries contributing to instability and taking part in deadly conflicts, as Saudi Arabia is doing now. Instead, ENAAT wants the money spent on projects that address real problems and uses CAAT’s Arms to Renewables campaign as an example. That would be in line with the vision of those founders of what is now the EU.
What you can do
On 26 October the budget, including the PA, goes to the full Plenary Session of the European Parliament. All 745 MEPs have a vote. If you have not already done so, please sign the petition. Watch the CAAT and ENAAT websites for action ideas. On Facebook, you can like noEUmoney4arms and on Twitter use the hashtag #noEUmoney4arms.