On 28th March, a group of twenty peace activists took action at the European Defence Agency (EDA) in Brussels, to protest an EU workshop designed to inform arms dealers about the financial support that Europe has to offer them. The peace activists covered themselves with red blood-like paint, preventing access to the European Defence Agency. “While the Middle-East is burning, arms dealers are filling their pockets with our tax money,” explained one of the activists. “The EU is funding an industry which has blood on its hands”.
The EU has recently started subsidising the arms industry with a military research programme. The first funding will amount to €90 million, but this is only a preparatory programme. The European Commission’s long term objective is to set up a fully-fledged European Defence Research Programme worth €3.5 billion between 2021-2027.
“It’s outrageous that an industry which turns war into profit, and has an annual turnover of €100 billion gets EU subsidies”, says Bram Vranken, spokesperson of the Belgian peace organisation Vredesactie. “An industry with an annual turnover of €100 billion can pay for its own research and development.”
EU-developed weapons might end up in conflict areas
The EU prioritises the development of autonomous weapons and armed drones, which are highly controversial. In 2014 the European Parliament called for disarmament of armed drones and a ban on the development of autonomous weapons, also known as killer robots. In an open letter, thousands of scientists spoke out about the risks of an arms race in killer robots.
According to Vredesactie, chances are real that weapons developed with EU money will end up in the wrong hands. “The property rights of these technologies will go to the arms companies involved,” says Vranken. “These companies can then freely export these military technologies to conflict areas.”
“That the EU wants to use public money for military research is not only absurd, but also unethical”, says Vranken. "This will not lead to more peace and a secure Europe."