GUE/NGL MEPs were unanimous in voicing their opposition to the Commission’s plan to militarise Europe at the ‘EU Defence plan and future of Europe’ debate in Strasbourg.

This was the latest in a series of topical debates at the European Parliament and today was GUE/NGL’s turn to set the agenda, with MEPs from the group keen to discuss the EU’s military ambitions in light of the Commission’s unveiling of the EU Defence Fund last month.

Opening the debate with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen, German MEP Sabine Lösing spoke on behalf of the group, saying:

“Despite the official EU position on this matter, the great majority of people do not want the militarisation of the union.”

“What the people want now more than ever is a peaceful, democratic and social European Union. But no, the EU policy is heading in the opposite direction: for the first time in the upcoming EU budget, an armaments budget called the Defence Fund will be set up with a total of 38.5 billion euros.”

“EU treaties prohibit expenditure arising from operations having military or defence implications from the EU budget – it is in the text of The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). So stop bulldozing your way through!” said Lösing.

GUE/NGL Vice President Neoklis Sylikiotis agreed, and said such costly military plans will have a severe impact on social programmes across the EU:

“The new defence plans promotes the deepening of EU militarisation. Is this the future you want for Europe? Are ongoing conflicts, external interventions, general bloodshed and refugees not enough?”

“People will be brought to their knees and be forced into a lack of security and exhaustion. In short, you are proposing an even less social Europe – a Europe that is not going to be based on growth and solidarity.”

“The EU must actively support peace, the disarmament, the dissolution of NATO, the end of external military interventions, as well as the support of measures on poverty eradication,” he implored.  

Swedish MEP Malin Björk was equally scathing, describing the plans as a gargantuan waste of EU money at the expense of other worthwhile projects:

“The Commission nurtures a dream in which the EU – in order to be its own master – needs weapons. It is such a patriarchical and one-dimensional idea.”

“And we’re talking about a lot of money – money that could and should be used for investments in sustainable transports, housing, schools and refugee reception.”

“If the EU really is serious about being a project for peace, then our institutions simply need to have as a goal to contribute to disarmament – not an arms race. The EU should also have as a goal in its external and international relations to put all our energy on human rights, democracy, conflict solution and sustainable development.”

Lastly, Finnish MEP Merja Kyllönen said that any militarisation will only further undermine the entire raison d'être of the EU’s foundations:

“Only recently did the Vice-President of the European Commission call for a re-start of the global disarmament process – so why does the EU not act on it for real?”

“In the end, wouldn´t it be best to reintroduce the core reason why the process that led to today´s EU began in the first place – no more wars; the best solution to make nations and people feel safe again?”, Kyllönen concluded.

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