The emerging EU military-industrial complex

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- by Frank Slijper (May 2005) -

After many years of ideas, but little substance, military developments in the European Union arecurrently moving forward faster than ever before. Issues that were deemed likely to remain at thediscussion table forever have 'suddenly'rooted: EU defence policy, common procurement, militaryresearch spending and the restructuring of the arms industry. The incorporation of military issuesin the EU Constitution and the creation of the European Defence Agency in particular are importantmilestones that have passed unnoticed for many people. Not so for the defence industry. Besides a dozen generals and diplomats, three arms industry representatives were asked to givetheir view on Europe's defence policies – but no representatives from civil society organisations.

Over the last few years, the arms industry has increasingly pressurised high-ranking officials andparliamentarians, in Brussels and in national capitals, to adopt their policy proposals - with no smalldegree of success. 'The Group of Personalities', 'LeaderSHIP 2015' and other task forces led byEuropean Commission luminaries, have been essential in lobbying their interests, ranging fromincreased spending on anti-terrorist technology to the removal of arms export barriers.

This TNI Briefing highlights the influential but little-exposed role that the arms industry and itslobby play in Brussels today. The close co-operation between the European Commission and thearms industry is a case study of backroom policy making, and a caricature of how many peopletoday look at European decision-making processes in general.

The briefing also shows how thislobbying power threatens the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on arms exports (CoC) that should forbidarms sales to human rights abusers or conflict zones. This study therefore hopes to contribute toa much more transparent European decision-making process - especially on military matters -
involving civil society, instead of the current situation of overwhelming corporate power.

Download Briefing in PDF format (341 kb): eumilitary.pdf

Frank Slijper works at the Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade (Campagne tegen Wapenhandel)and has been a researcher and campaigner on arms trade issues for the past thirteen years. Hegraduated in 1993 as an economist (international economic relations), specialising in Dutch militaryprocurement and the offset policies implemented to enhance the defence industry. He haswritten and published extensively on Dutch arms exports and policy ever since. In 2003 he coauthored
"Explosieve materie - Nederlandse wapenhandel blootgelegd" [Explosive material - Dutcharms trade revealed"], a unique handbook based on 16,000 pages of previously secret informationreleased through the Dutch Freedom of Information Act. For many years, one of the focal pointsof his work has been the arms trade to India and Pakistan. Last year, he wrote a comprehensivereview of Dr. A.Q. Khan's many connections with The Netherlands, as part of a GreenpeaceInternational report on nuclear proliferation.

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Founded in 1974, TNI is an international network of activist-scholars committed ro critical analyses of the global problems of today and tomorrow, with a view to providing intellectual support to those movements concerned to steer the world in a democratic, equitable and environmentally sustainable direction.

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