Make peace, not war: Stop the European Defence Fund

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Austrian soldiers advance on the objective during the 2014 multinational exercise Combined Resolve II in Hohenfels, Germany [(U.S. Army/Flickr]

The proposal to set up a European Defence Fund, recently announced by the European Commission, is a disturbing and unacceptable move which is of sole benefit to military industries and arms trade, writes Xavier Maslloren.

Xavier Masllorens is president of the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP).

The proposal will fuel armed conflicts and lead the EU towards the setting up of a military industrial complex at a European level and a joint military force that depart from the values of peace and cooperation.

The European Union (EU) has always been accompanied by a strong awareness of its origins as a project for peace. This spirit has been firmly embedded in its treaties, as set out in current Article 3 of the Treaty on the European Union, which states that “the Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples”. In recognition of this willingness to contribute to the peaceful settlement of armed conflicts, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

In recognition of this willingness to contribute to the peaceful settlement of armed conflicts, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

In a move far from this original spirit, however, the European Commission recently announced the proposal to set up a European Defence Fund, with which it intends to allocate an additional 500 million euros of the EU budget for a dedicated defence and industrial development programme for 2019 and 2020, with an increase in this contribution of 1.5 billion euros a year from 2021 onwards.

This fund will also leverage national contributions for joint development and the acquisition of military equipment by the member states.

In doing so, it will be the first time that the EU jointly funds the development of new military equipment between different countries under a plan that aims to unify weapons systems between EU countries and compete with the United States for global technological leadership and thereby reduce the Union’s technological dependence.

We strongly deplore the shift of focus that this proposal implies, with which the EU closely aligns itself with powers that choose to address security challenges just with a military response. The ICIP view the setting up of the European Defence Fund as being a disturbing and unacceptable move, which is of

The ICIP views the setting up of the European Defence Fund as being a disturbing and unacceptable move, which is of sole benefit to military industries and arms trade; it will fuel armed conflicts and lead the EU towards the setting up of a military industrial complex at European level and a joint military force that depart from the values of peace and cooperation for which we stand.

This measure may also adversely affect investment in key areas of peacebuilding and conflict resolution, such as cooperation, the environment and sectors of the economy that are committed to equality, justice and social cohesion.

The lack of efforts to promote research for peace and the development of non-military security instruments is disappointing. The European Union should uphold its willingness to influence international crises through diplomacy and become a leader in real and effective advocacy for the peaceful transformation of conflicts and stand as a project for peace that serves the people.

The recent proposal by the Commission, on the other hand, serves the interests of the member states’ military industries and reinforces the military-security paradigm.

Any increase in military research and, consequently, innovation, competitiveness and the export capacity of the arms industry will contribute not only to global instability, but also the sustaining and escalation of conflicts, and the European Defence Fund itself will facilitate the sale of EU-funded military technology abroad, thereby exacerbating the global arms race.

It is for all of these reasons that the ICIP calls on the EU to reconsider the setting up of the European Defence Fund and its budgetary allocation and create funding mechanisms for civil research with the explicit objective of improving people’s lives, promoting peace and the peaceful transformation of conflicts.