The Delàs Center organizes a Workshop in the European Parliament to discuss European security and defense
On December 2 and 3, members of Centre Delàs of Peace Studies travelled to Brussels in order to hold several political advocacy meetings at the European Parliament, working together with members of other civil society organizations.
During the first day, Ainhoa Ruiz held meetings with advisers from political groups of the European Parliament as the author of the Centre Delàs’ report on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), co-published by the Transnational Institute and Stop Wapenhandel. In these meetings she pointed to Frontex’s criminalization of migrants and the human rights violations they suffer.
In the afternoon, Quique Sánchez, an officer of the Global Campaign on Military Spending campaign, which Centre Delas coordinates as a decentralized office of the IPB, participated in the meeting organized by the Beegees group, which brings together pacifists working on arms trade related issues in Brusseles. The discussion was this time related to the European Defence Fund, the Common Position on arms trade and the European Peace Facility. Later, the group received MEP Hannah Neumann, weapons trade rapporteur of the defence and security subcommittee (SEDO). Lastly, Quique Sánchez presented the GCOMS campaign to the group in order establish alliances and receive feedback from them.
The two members of the Centre Delàs then held a meeting with the Greenpeace Germany Peace Team, aiming at learning from common lines of work and sharing experiences and research outcomes.
On December 3, Centre Delàs held the workshop on defence and security “How to forge a peace and rights-based EU answer to security threats” along with the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT). Besides the researcher Ainhoa Ruiz and the officer Quique Sánchez, this event counted with the coordinator and researcher of Centre Delàs Jordi Calvo. The workshop formally presented the conclusions of different research carried out by Centre Delas d’Estudis per la Pau in collaboration with other entities such as Escola de Cultura de Pau, the Human Rights Institute of Catalonia, the Transnational Institute, Stop Wapenhandel and the ENAAT network.
The workshop featured important experts from different civil society organisations and political groups of the European parliament, contributing all of them different perspectives that highly enriched the debate. The conference was organized in three panels: on the one hand, arms exports by EU member states; on the other, the refugees and migrants issue and the progressive militarization of borders; lastly, a panel dedicated to the European Defence Fund and the increasing military spending at the European level linked to global dynamics.
After a short welcoming and introduction by Jordi Calvo, researcher at Centre Delàs, Vice-President of the IPB and coordinator of GCOMS, the first session “EU arms exports and their impact on conflicts” started with the intervention of the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Özlem Demirel, from Die Linke and the GUE/NGL parliamentary group, who focused on the insufficiencies and violations of arms trade regulation at both European and Member States level. She was then followed by another MEP, Hannah Neumann of Die Grunen and the parliamentarian group of the Greens (Greens/EFE), who highlighted these shortcomings in the control and monitoring of EU arms exports.
Finally, Jordi Calvo, emphasized in his presentation, that according to SIPRI data, more than half of the EU Member States’ arms exports end up in countries in conflict or tension.
In the second panel, addressing the topic “Migration policies and militarization of the management of EU borders”, Ainhoa Ruiz, researcher from the Centre Delàs in militarization of borders, draw special attention to the increase of walls’ construction by EU member states, as well as the role of Frontex in criminalizing migrants. The last speaker of this session was Catherine Woollard, Director of the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), who introduced the limitations of the asylum system as well as several alternatives to protect the rights of refugees.
The third panel was concerned with the question: “Is the EU still a peae-led project?” In this session Laetitia Sédou, of the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT), analyzed the consequences the European Defence Fund entails for the EU and Member States. She was then followed by Quique Sánchez, officer of the GCOMS campaign, who addressed the global military spending and the rhetoric behind it, offering at the same time alternatives based on a human security paradigm. Lastly, Clémence Buchet-Couzy of the Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA), put an emphasis on the European policies that do work for peace and for conflict resolution, which comparatively are shockingly underfunded but she defended should be setting the path for EU policies.
Miguel Urbán, MEP from Unidas Podemos and the Parliamentary Group GUE/NGL, who together with his team had hosted the workshop at the EU Parliament, ended the conference with his closing remarks, paying special attention to the setbacks in terms of security and rights at the EU, as well as to the lack of commitment of the EU in regard to true peacebuilding policies.
The three members of the Centre Delàs went on with different meetings with MEPs and MEP assistants in order to further amplify their advocacy efforts in these areas. Altogether, they managed to meet with almost all parliamentary groups, including the EPP, S&D, Renew, GUE/NGL and the Greens/EFA.
These actions counted with the support of the Diputació de Barcelona, the Catalan Agency of Cooperation at the Development (ACCD) and Barcelona’s City Council (Ajuntament de Barcelona).