The founding fathers of the EU had an ideal of a “peaceful, united and prosperous Europe”, the reason why successive treaties included as a main mission of the EU to preserve, strengthen and promote peace. 60 years later, it seems that lessons learned from World War II are already forgotten: over the last decade the red line preventing the EU to operate in military-related topics is being gradually blurred, and the EU budget is being increasingly used to finance arms-related activities under discreet but powerful lobbying of the arms and security industry.
As the European Community has no direct competence in the military area, the entry points have been the internal market and the 'jobs and growth' priority; as a result of the different initiatives taken, the current regulation and control of arms exports is being put into question, and the EU budget is being diverted from other priorities, with a specific focus on arms-related research:
The EU Common Position on arms exports control
The control of arms exports remains a national competence of EU Member States. At EU level, the latter agreed in 2008 a Common Position “defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment”. This text defines eight ethical criteria for the evaluation of an arms export license application. These criteria include the human rights situation in the country of destination as well as its involvement in armed conflict and its economic situation.
The Common Position is officially binding but in practice, there is no legal overview nor sanctions in case of breaches. In fact the Position leaves a lot of space for political interpretation. As a result, governments apply the eight criteria at random, depending on their economic, political and strategical interests. ENAAT wants a strict and responsible interpretation of the EU common position on arms exports.
EU Annual Reports on arms exports control
As a transparency and confidence building measure, each EU Member State is supposed to contribute to the EU annual report on arms exports control, handing in data on granted arms export licenses and arms transfers.
According to ENAAT analyses, these overviews are often too late and incomplete, raising many questions about the reliability of the data provided and on EU commitment to make arms export control effective. The EU annual reports on arms exports control are however one of the few official sources for analysing the European arms trade. This is the reason why ENAAT and CAAT set up an easy application to find a way through this overload of information.
The European Parliament adopted in 2015 an assessment report on the implementation of the Common Position, and should do so on a regular basis.
Liberalization of the internal market for arms and military equipment
In parallel, two EU directives adopted in 2007 were meant to facilitate selling weapons and military equipment inside the EU, by countering the privileged relationship between national industries and their governments (the 'procurement Directive') and by simplifying and harmonising licences for arms transfers (the 'transfer Directive' regulating arms trade inside the EU, as opposed to arms exports outside the EU).
However this process of liberalization of the internal market for 'defence' is already impacting negatively the national systems of arms exports control, while 'progress' towards more transparency and 'genuine' competition in the European armament sector does not live up to expectations, according to evaluations conducted by the European Commission (EC).
Moreover, the arms industry is now pushing for a second phase of deregulation, in particular against the possibility to limit the re-exportation of transferred goods, in order to be 'competitive' with American companies but also the emerging arms industry in countries like China, India or Brazil to name but a few. Thus ENAAT will continue scrutinizing carefully any move in this field.
ENAAT campaign to stop the militarisation of the EU budget
from dual-use and security research...
As Article 42 of the Treaty of the European Union prohibits direct funding for military operations and related activities, the strategy of the arms industry was to start with the concept of dual-use, which enabled the use of EU funds for the civilian application of dual-use research. Then in 2007 the main EU programme for research, Horizon 2020, included 'security' as an eligible research area. In practice many security companies are also active in the military sector, thus granting access to EU funding by many arms companies, including from 'partner countries' like Israeli companies.
In December 2013, the European Parliament (EP) proposed and voted a Pilot Project of €1.5 million to start funding military research directly with the EU budget, followed in December 2016 by a Preparatory Action (PA) initiated this time by the European Commission and adopted by Member States and the EP. This PA dedicates €90 millions for military research for the next three years (2017-2019). The special status of Pilot Projects and Preparatory Actions enable funding new areas of work even if it is not clearly allowed under the EU treaties. And this is only the first step towards a fully fledged European Defence Research Programme of €3.5 billion for 2021-2027 (which will need a clear legal basis).
...to a complete paradigm shift...
The European Defence Action Plan presented by the European Commission on November 30, 2016, also contains a list of proposals to mainstream the military sector into the main EU policies and funds (from research to regional and structural funds, the European Investment Bank and even Erasmus+). It also suggests creating a specific 'EU Defence Fund' for the joint development and acquisition of military equipments, and national contributions to this fund could be excluded from the national deficits under the Stability and Growth Pact. Of course those proposals do not come out of the blue; they result from the expectations and influence both of some Member States and of the arms industry. Those new funds do not replace national expenses but rather add onto them.
In short, what we are witnessing is a complete paradigm shift of the European project, and the justification is to contribute to jobs and growth and to an EU of Defence by strengthening the arms industry competitiveness (including its capacity to export). ENAAT completely disagrees with this approach, and considers that this shift will merely profit the arms industry short-term interests and contribute to exacerbate the global arms race, which in turn negatively impacts conflicts.
This the reason why we have launched the campaign “noEUmoney4arms”, in order to reveal these new forms of subsidies to the arms industry, unveil the undue influence of the arms industry on the EU policymaking and stop this militarisation of the EU budget.
...under influence of the arms industry
Indeed this move does not come out of the blue:
it is the result of several years of persistent and discreet lobby work from the arms industry, with the support of several national governments. And in 2015 the EU Commissioner for Internal Market & Industry, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, set-up an advisory 'Group of Personalities', more than half of them industry representatives, in charge of “helping the EC to shape” military research funding. In other words, the arms industry is advising if and how the EU should subsidize the arms industry.
ENAAT documents and interesting links related to the EU here