Arms industry has Brussels in its grip

5 November 2017

Arms industry has Brussels in its grip

We’ve heard it in recent weeks from both the European Commission and the leaders of member state governments: threats on the international level are so great that we have urgent need of a European defence policy. Over the next ten years the Commission wants to channel €40 billion into weapons research via a European Defence Fund. But is the so-called ‘threat’ the real reason for the sudden demand for more finance? A Belgian peace group investigated this and what did it find? The arms industry dreamed up all these plans and pushed them through – the umpteenth example of Brussels being led on the leash by lobbyists for big capital.

Traditionally the EU has never financed military research. Rather, it was a peaceful organisation which directed its attentions towards the economy and prosperity, not defence. Last year this changed when €90 million was earmarked for an initial project. A ‘Group of Personalities’ had proposed this as a first step on the way to a true European research programme for defence. Perhaps you’ve never heard of this ‘Group of Personalities’. Well, that may be because it was secret, not an ordinary expert group governed by transparency rules, such as the Commission uses all the time, but something special. Neither was it in any way balanced: all of the major arms firms were represented, as well as research institutions at least partly dependent on finance from the weapons industry. No social organisations; these evidently have no ‘personalities’.

One small detail: the personalities recommend that above all we must invest in wars without soldiers. So they’re keen on drones which can play at war without too much human intervention. Drones are, moreover, no less deadly than traditional warfare. They’re still deadly weapons. Why opt for them? The answer is simple. As things stand the European arms industry lags behind the Americans in this area and could certainly use some support. None of this has anything to do with democracy. No honest debate has been conducted in public. Discussion has taken place in back rooms and at major arms fairs and conferences. That’s where EU representatives speak with all of the arms industry lobbyists. I advise everyone to read the report from the Belgian peace group Ik Stop Wapenhandel (I Stop the Arms Trade). The report is available in English as well as Belgium’s own languages. This will open up a whole world to you, but not a very nice one.

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