A European Defence Budget in a Legal Vacuum
Guest blog article from Sabine Lösing, MEP, and Jürgen Wagner
Guest post by Sabine Lösing (MEP, DIE LINKE) and Jürgen Wagner (managing director of Informationsstelle Militarisierung e.V.)
It is the prevalent perception in Brussels that if the EU wants to establish itself as a veritable global player within the group of major powers, the construction of a powerful military establishment is inevitable. Great Britain has blocked such a development for many years. This explains why a number of EU politicians perceive the Brexit as an opportunity rather than as a problem.
In fact, the British EU-Referendum functioned as a kick-off: Under the Franco-German leadership and based on the European Global Strategy (EUGS), a series of initiatives that had so far been blocked by the United Kingdom were pushed forward. Since the referendum, the Commission seems to be prepared to” engage in defence measures to an unprecedented extent”. The crown jewel of this military package will be the first-time establishment of a multi-billion-euro EU defence budget, the European Defence Fund. Of the many problems that this project raises, the prevailing question is whether the Fund is legal at all.
Billions for Armament
In November 2016, the Commission suggested to pledge an annual amount of 500 Mio. Euros from the EU budget from 2021 to 2027 to EU defence research and 5 Billion Euros annually to the acquisition of armaments – equating to a total of 38.5 Billion Euros.
In June 2017, the Commission stated that the fund shall already start 2019 and until the end of 2020, 2.59 Billion Euros shall be allocated. Thereafter, it shall stay at the said 5.5 Billion Euros annually, of which 1.5 Billion would come from the EU budget and the rest from the member states. The Parliament and the Council will pass a corresponding regulation proposal from the commission as a priority project in the course of 2018. Hence, the way is cleared to bring the de facto defence budget on its way under the term: “European program for the industrial development of the defence sector for the purpose of the promotion of the competitiveness and the innovation the defence industry of the EU” (EDIDP).
This title clarifies that the core concerns of the EDF are the promotion of the competitiveness and export capabilities of the local arms industry. However, the predominant purpose is to improve the military capability of the EU. This is to be achieved by counteracting the alleged underfinancing of the defence sector through the EDF. In addition, the EDF only finances transnational defence projects, which in turn should raise the efficiency of the defence sector.
Legal? Illegal? It doesn’t matter! ...