Agir pour la paix (“Action for Peace”) protested Thursday at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency (EDA) in Brussels. The association decided to express its discontentment regarding the decision taken by the European Union to subsidise research for military purposes. The action, which ended at close to 2:00 p.m., consisted particularly of a sit-in with the aim of blocking access to the conference.
“It’s pitiful: an industry that obtains its profits from war and on top of this lobbies for obtaining EU subsidies,” said Stephanie Demblon, spokesperson of the Belgian pacifist organization Agir pour la Paix. “An industry with annual sales of 100 billion euros can pay for its own research and development projects.”
The activists highlight that until now, subsidies for military research were explicitly excluded from the budgetary lines of the EU. “The European Union, as a peace project, does not honour its Nobel Prize by radically changing its political line,” emphasized the association.
The EU has been considering for a while revamping its defence policy. “We must not be gullible. ‘Soft power’ is no longer sufficient in our increasingly dangerous environment,” stated the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in his speech on the state of the Union. The Commission insists on the fact that the proposal being considered is simply a budgetary proposition to reserve for next year 25 million euros for funding and research.
“This does not mean that we would be subsidizing or funding the weapons industry. The aim is to facilitate cooperation between the Member States for developing necessary common defence capacity,” stated a spokesperson. The European Parliament and the Member States must make their positions known in the coming weeks regarding the European budget for next year.
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)