European Parliament adopts the European Defence Industrial Development Programme
In early July, the European Parliament adopted the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). The programme was first proposed by the European Commission in June 2017, as part of the European Defence Fund (EDF). The European Defence Fund is run by the European Union, to support research and development of new weapons - the arms industry will be the primary beneficiaries, and large sums of money are being made available for new projects. Huge sums of money are being dedicated to the project; from 2017 to 2020, a total of €590 million will be channelled to the military industry through the EDF. From 2021 to 2027, at least €1.5 billion a year will be spent on research, development and acquisition.
The European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), adopted on the 3rd July 2018, will fund the second phase of military research and development, like prototypes development, testing or feasibility studies. For example, the programme will support the ongoing development of a European drone, that will be armed and used by EU member states. Scientists and researchers around the world have warned of the risks of a “killer robots” armed race. Despite the fact the European Parliament has called for a ban on such weapons, EU member states have rejected the exclusion of autonomous weapons from the EDF, and only weapons "prohibited by international law" will be ineligible from benefiting from the funding.
The European Network Against the Arms Trade (ENAAT) – a network of anti-arms campaign organisations across Europe – has been monitoring the shift towards funding for the military in the EU, and has been highly critical of the EDF and EDIDP. “Indeed the Defence Fund for 2021-2027 could pour €13 billion to the arms industry from the EU budget only, more than it would dedicate to humanitarian aid! And dozens of billions more would come from national contributions. Pretending that this will provide security to European citizens is a misleading message” says Laëtitia Sédou, programme officer at ENAAT.