Peace activists protest at EU workshop for arms dealers


This article by Nicola Freeman from Alter-EU is about a group peace activists who covered themselves with red paint in front of the European Defence Agency in Belgium to demonstrate the effects of Europe's financial support to arms dealers. The European Union prioritizes the making of weapons, and this demonstration was staged to prevent people from entering the European Defence Agency.  

Read or download the article below. 

Today a group of peace activists took action at the European Defence Agency (EDA) in Brussels, during an EU workshop to inform arms dealers about the financial support that Europe has to offer them. The peace activists covered themselves with red paint, preventing the access to the European Defence Agency. “While the Middle-East is burning, arms dealers are filling their pockets with our tax money,” says one of the activists. “The EU is funding an industry which has blood on its hands.”

The EU has recently started subsidizing the arms industry with a military research programme. Initially the funding will amount to 90 million euro. This is only a preparatory programme. The European Commission’s long term objective is to set up a fully-fledged European Defence Research Programme worth EUR 3.5 billion over 2021-2027.

“It’s ridiculous that an industry which turns war into profit, gets EU subsidies”, says Bram Vranken, spokesperson of the Belgian peace organisation Vredesactie. “An industry with an annual turnover of 100 billion euro should pay for its own Research and Development.”

EU developed weapons might end up in conflict areas

The EU prioritizes the development of autonomous weapons and armed drones, which are highly controversial. In 2014 the European Parliament called for disarmament of armed drones and a ban on the development of autonomous weapons, also known as killer robots. In an open letter, thousands of scientists warned as well for the risks of an arms race in killer robots.

According to Vredesactie chances are real that these weapons developed with EU money will end up in the wrong hands. “The property rights of these technologies will go to the involved arms companies,” says Vranken. “These companies can then freely export these military technologies to conflict areas.”