Don’t give EU aid money to arms companies

The EU commission has presented a 100 million EUR proposal, using for first time, the EU budget for strengthening the military in third countries. The idea is to help fund poorer countries’ military in the fields of training, mentoring and to provide infrastructural military services. This new EU policy is officially called “capacity building in support of security and development” (CBSD). The money will be channelled via the EU’s Instrument for Stability and Peace, a fund previously used only for civilian purposes.

This would be a game changer for the EU, since it would militarize the EU’s previously civilian budget, something unthinkable only a couple of years ago. In practice aid money could be given to European arms companies to develop new equipment and services, later to be sold to third countries – for example communication and radar technology. Other countries could likely follow. This could risk changing the interpretation of development aid worldwide, hollowing out development aid meant to reduce poverty and spur long-term economic development.

However, the proposal has caused a stir among the peace movement as well as with the development community, who fear that the money will be taken from aid project for poverty reduction and other long-term civilian purposes. More than 60 000 people have already signed an online petition against the CBSD initiative and member states like Sweden, Ireland and Luxembourg are questioning its legal and practical consequences.

The Greens have spearheaded the opposition against the CBSD initiative in the European Parliament and on a national level. While we underline the link between to development and security, we emphasize that one should not exclude the other – we have do to both. We cannot trade short-term security for long-term development. There is nothing wrong with capacity building in itself, but the money should not be taken out of the EU’s budget for development and given to the arms companies.

While the internationally accepted development aid criteria (DAC) allow some aid money to be used for receiving refugees etc., CBSD is different, both in terms of scale and content. The legal services from all three EU institutions have already declared that the CBSD initiative is not compatible with EU law. Diverting development funds into military capacity building could open the gates for anything to be called aid; leaving little if any money for real development and poverty reduction.

For the Greens, the long-term approach to politics is in our political DNA. It is what we were founded upon. However, we cannot fight this alone. As more people are discovering the CBSD initiative, we have a better chance of stopping it. It is common sense really: our aid money should never be going to the arms companies.

/Bodil Valero

Member of the European Parliament for the Swedish Greens (Miljöpartiet de gröna)

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *