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The arms industry has the EU in its iron grip

3 December 2018

The arms industry has the EU in its iron grip

Foto: European Defence Agency
Forget all those fine words about how the EU must invest in weaponry in order to stand up to aggression from beyond its borders. Look a little further and you'll see the enormously powerful interests of the arms industry. Its representatives were there in their droves last Thursday during the European Defence Agency’s (EDA's) Annual Conference. Policy makers meet with the industry, with the Agency even seeing it as an opportunity. The conference theme was 'autonomous weapons': no people involved, just killer robots. Are these then 'European values'?

It recently emerged that the arms industry had enormous influence on the European Commission's initiative to begin a €90 million research programme for the EDA. The money must be spent by the end of 2019. The next seven years must therefore, according to the plans, see an expenditure of half a billion per annum. And that's quite apart from the spending on the common purchase of arms. In short, we're talking big money.

The arms industry keeps a close eye on all of this. A list of invitees for the EDA's annual conference reveals that along with European and national policy-makers the industry is the most heavily represented amongst the participants. It's to be welcomed that as many as 177 scientists signed an open letter protesting against this event. The EU stands in this case not for security but instead is participating in the race for uncontrolled, autonomous weapons. This is extremely dangerous. With these scientists I'm demanding an honest approach, not one based on scaremongering about countries outside the EU, but on a policy that bans irresponsible arms systems and certainly refrains from developing them. We could then return to the peaceful aims of European cooperation adopted at a time when the horrors of the Second World War were still fresh in the memory. Say the arms manufacturers what they will, true security doesn't come from ever more grisly weapons systems.

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