Spotlight on the EU arms industry

QCEA has recently published an information sheet in four languages, providing facts about the EU arms industry.

Did you know…?

German-made tanks taking part in a military training exercise Photo credit: Bundeswehr-Fotos Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

German-made tanks taking part in a military training exercise
Photo credit: Bundeswehr-Fotos
Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

  • The manufacture and sale of arms is a multi-billion-euro industry.
  • The EU has an official policy, agreed at a summit meeting in December 2013, that treats the arms industry as an important source of both military strength and economic prosperity.
  • In order to continue to contribute to the economy, the EU arms industry needs to export arms to outside the EU. (The EU market isn’t big enough to sustain the industry.)
  • Over 99 per cent of arms export licence applications made in the EU are approved.
  • The arms industry maintains its influence over the highest levels of government through lobbyists and well-placed contacts.

Why is this an issue?

Those of you who follow this blog will know that QCEA has long been concerned by the increasing militarisation of the EU. We define militarisation as “the process by which the presence and the approaches of the military are made normal”. Or in other words, a militarised EU is one in which the EU institutions and national governments tend to regard military violence as a “normal” approach to the problems of foreign policy.

Given the economic and political power of the EU arms industry, is it any surprise that we have a militarised EU? This industry makes its profits by selling governments more and more weapons — and it makes the most profit of all when there is a war. Therefore, this industry and its lobbyists have every reason to normalise violence, and to encourage those in power to think in military terms.

This should not be understood as an argument for Euroscepticism. Much of the backing for militaristic thinking in the EU institutions comes from national governments. If Member States started to leave the EU, this would not necessarily lead to a less militarised Europe — it could just lead to militarism being expressed in a slightly different form (e.g. through a greater reliance on NATO).

Nonetheless, as EU citizens we do not need to treat militarism as if it were something inevitable. Militaristic thinking is a political choice — and there are alternatives. We can choose to work for a world in which peaceful approaches to conflict are better appreciated, and in which the prosperity of the EU depends on something other than the manufacture of arms.

Learn more

An anti-militarism demonstration in Brussels Photo credit: Andrew Lane

An anti-militarism demonstration in Brussels
Photo credit: Andrew Lane

Download QCEA’s information sheet to learn more about the EU arms industry, and to find out how you can become part of the solution. This information sheet is free to download, print, and distribute.

In English — Ten questions and answers on the European Union arms industry

En français — Dix questions et réponses sur l’industrie de l’armement de l’Union européenne

Auf Deutsch — Zehn Fragen und Antworten bezüglich der Rüstungsindustrie in der Europäischen Union

In het Nederlands — Tien vragen en antwoorden over de EU wapenindustrie

 

This blog post is dedicated to the memory of Hans Georg Klee, a friend of QCEA who helped with translating the information sheet into German. Until his death in April 2016, Hans Georg was a devoted peace activist. He worked with the German Quaker community, in the responsible role of Clerk of German Yearly Meeting Peace Committee.

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