The establishment of a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) – approved today by the European Parliament – represents a dangerous escalation in the militarisation of the EU.

Between 2019 and 2020, the EU will give €500 million to arms companies for the development of weapons, including controversial Autonomous Weapons Systems. This amount is expected to rise to a staggering €1 billion every year after 2020, if the Commission´s plans are approved.

Cuts in social programmes worth €300 million were needed to establish the Fund. The Connecting Europe Facility, to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment, is among the most affected programmes.

MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis (AKEL, Cyprus) tabled an amendment on behalf of GUE/NGL rejecting the notion of a fund for arms at a time when poverty and inequality are at peak levels:

“We categorically reject the agreement between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. It is unacceptable to increase investment in military research and equipment rather than on social programmes. The funds should serve the needs of real people who are becoming impoverished and unemployed due to the economic crisis and neoliberal policies.”

“This is why we demand an end to the funding of wars and the war industry. We need to invest in peace, reindustrialization of the South, the creation of new quality jobs and research for society’s real needs.”

Likewise, MEP Sabine Lösing (DIE LINKE, Germany) deplored the result of the vote:

“We strongly reject the militarisation of the EU and will continue our fight against this madness. From 2020 onwards, the EDIDP will become the European Defence Fund, part of the European Defence Action Plan. There is even a new heading on the EU budget for ´security and defence´. These are clear steps towards a military Union.”  

Lösing warned against the use of the Fund for the development of so-called ´killer robots´:

“The EDIDP will allow for millions of euros to be used in the development of autonomous weapons systems, which can be operated without any human intervention. This is scandalous. There are serious ethical, legal and moral questions associated with these ´killer robots´.

“Parliament adopted a resolution in 2004 demanding a total ban on 'the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons that allow military attacks without human intervention´. Parliament´s negotiator, Françoise Grossetête (EPP), disregarded her negotiating mandate, which also called for a ban on the development of “fully autonomous weapons” under Article 6 (eligible measures). We strictly reject the development, proliferation and promotion of such autonomous weapons,” Lösing concluded.

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