- This afternoon the European Parliament voted to support a €13 billion budget for shared military Research & Development
- The advisory group that initially developed the policy was dominated by arms companies
Campaigners have condemned the decision of the European Parliament to support the €13 billion budget for the ‘European Defence Fund’ for 2021-2027. This afternoon, 328 MEPs voted in favour of the partial deal with EU ministers, with 231 against, and 19 abstaining.
The proposal was for a €13 billion fund for the period 2021-2027 (in current prices), of which €4.1 billion is to be allocated to research actions and €8.9 billion to development actions for military technology.
The concept of the fund was announced by President Juncker in 2016 and backed by the European Council later that year. Between 2017-2020, a total of €590 million was budgeted to the military industry through this fund in initial pilot projects. This spending will be totally eclipsed by the proposed increase.
The advisory group/ Group of Personalities that initially developed the proposal was dominated by arms companies. This Group was made up of 16 members, 9 of which were from arms companies or private research groups. 6 of the companies that have already benefited from pilot phase had members on the Group.
The Member States refused to exclude funding for the development of fully autonomous weapons in the 2017-2020 pilot phase of the Defence Fund, and today’s proposal specifically mentions “disruptive technologies” as a focus: meaning weapons or technologies which “can radically change the concepts and conduct of” war, such as artificial intelligence.
The fund sets a major precedent for the EU – which had its roots in plans to bring peace to Europe. It had not funded these kinds of projects in the past. Yesterday, 1000 researchers, academics and scientists from across Europe called for the Parliament to oppose the fund.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
The establishment of the fund sets a very negative precedent and drags the European Union even further down the line of military power and war. European Governments should be cooperating and investing in jobs and research projects that promote sustainable industries and contribute to conflict resolution, not weapons.
Regardless of people’s views on Brexit and the UK’s role in Europe, one thing all sides should agree on is that it should not be using huge sums of public money to subsidise Research and Development for international arms companies and others that profit from war.