In 2017, the EU approved the funding of military research and the development of new arms and technologies, breaking the red line that the EU should not fund military activities with the community budget.
Over half a billion Euros went to military research and development (R&D) through two precursor programmes: the Preparatory Action for Defence Research (PADR), which funds joint military research projects, and the European Defence Industrial Development Program (EDIDP), which funds joint development of arms and military technologies.
The detailed breakdown of allocations for PADR and EDIDP funding has now been published for 73.6% of the total budget (€434.45 million out of a total of €590 million of which a small part goes to administrative costs). The detailed data is available on the public platform Open Security Data Europe, updated with the EU funding for military R&D thanks to ENAAT support.
The fact-sheet shows that 15 companies and research centres alone account for 52% of the budget allocated in 2017-2020: mainly armament conglomerates like Leonardo (No1), Thales (No2) and Airbus (N°5) and large companies like Indra (N°3) or Safran (N°5). Six of them were members of a ‘Group of Personalities’ charged in 2016 with advising the European Commission on the setting-up of such a programme.
Regarding countries, the top 5 countries get 70% of the funds allocated so far. In particular the four major European military powers, France, Italy, Spain and Germany, get back almost two-third of the budget.
Furthermore, by combining other sources of information such as the ExitArms.org database and the Corruption Tracker, it becomes clear that most of these major recipients are involved in controversial arms deliveries and/or face serious allegations of corruption.
Already in 2016 ENAAT warned that the European Defence Fund would exacerbate the global arms race. Unfortunately, the data available today confirms this: the military industry subsidised by the EU exports military equipment to authoritarian and/or belligerent countries or to countries in the grip of internal conflicts, with a very high risk that these weapons will be used to repress civilians or in conflict zones.
As regards corruption allegations, providing funds to these corporations does not breach EU regulation as long as there is no court conviction; however, one should still question the moral, ethical, and legal implications of subsidising corporations when there is evidence of corruption.