EU approves funding the arms industry research with EU public money
01.12.2016 Amsterdam, Brussels, Helsinki, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm.
After the final vote of the EU 2017 annual budget, members of the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) are extremely concerned by the adoption of a Preparatory Action for military research of 25 millions EUR, and the planned 90 million over 3 years, with overwhelming majority.
“This is equivalent to subsidizing the European arms industry, which largely benefits from public money through different channels already’, states Wendela de Vries, coordinator at Stop Wapenhandel. This decision also represents a fundamental paradigm shift of the European project. So far EU funds for research were strictly limited to civil end-use, although the military industry could already access those funds through security and dual-use research. With this vote, EU governments and parliamentarians that favour a militarised EU are pushing for a paradigm shift of the EU project through the back door. ENAAT members question the alleged contribution of such funding for ‘European defence’.
Lack of transparency highlights poor decision making
First, with an annual total budget of 217.5 billion EUR for all EU Member States in 2015, the EU is ranking second in the world in terms of military expenditure; pretending that more money is needed to guarantee European security does not make sense.
Second, “this decision has been taken under strong influence of the arms industry and Member States interested in this funding, and would mostly benefit to this industry rather than to the EU common interest” notes Francesco Vignarca, Coordinator at the Italian Network on Disarmament. A Group of Personalities (GoP), made up of 9 industry representatives out of 16 members (the rest being mainly Member States and EU institutions) worked for 18 months in order to ‘give advice’ to the European Commission on the content and modalities of this funding. “This GoP was never registered in the Register of Commission Experts Groups. Some information about this GoP was published online, but this does not exempt the EU Commission from strictly adhering to its transparency principle towards EU citizens” says Ann Feltham, Parliamentary Coordinator at the UK Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Arms industry claims for best treatment under EU budget
“By accepting with no conditions this Preparatory action, the European Parliament voted for a form of blank cheque to the European Defence Agency and to the arms industry, and deprived itself of any leverage to influence the use and modalities of this funding, apart from ex post verification” says Tony Fortin, President of the Observatoire des armements. European Parliamentarians had no information about the practical modalities of this new funding at the time of voting, while the demands of the arms industry, included in the recommendations of the Group of Personalities, would set the most favourable treatment ever granted to a beneficiary of the EU budget, in terms of percentage financed and of Intellectual Property Rights in particular.
“Implementation of this Preparatory action should be subject to particular scrutiny by MEPs from diverse backgrounds. And the forthcoming political debate about a future European defence research programme of 3.5 billions EUR for 2021-2027 must be much broader, in-depth and cross-committees, and systematically include critical voices from civil society to counterbalance the industry interests”, concludes Bram Vrancken, from Vredesactie.
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ENAAT Position Paper <