Many issues have come up so far in the Lisbon debate, some very relevant, some less so. The key issues the Socialist Party have been raising so far are workers rights, public services and miltarisation. Elsewhere Joe Higgins has looked at the issue of workers’ rights and public services. Here, he goes into precisely how Lisbon boosts the armaments industry and is another step towards a militarised EU.
The absence of any detailed debate on the new provisions in the Lisbon Treaty concerning armaments policy and military strategy is quite alarming. This arises on the one hand from the reluctance of the ‘Yes’ side to highlight a face of the European Union which many Irish people would find revolting and on the other a blatant failure by the media to analyse these provisions.
It should be a matter of massive debate that, for the first time, the EU armaments industry is given a formal place in an EU Treaty. The role of the European Defence Agency is essentially to co-ordinate the armaments industry in the EU, making it an integral part of EU operations. Its tasks include: ‘implementing any measures needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector’ and to participate ‘in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy’ (Art. 42 TEU).
The EU armaments industry is the guilty secret that the EU political establishment likes to keep hidden. The major EU arms-exporting countries – France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Britain – account for one third of the world’s arms deals. Their products include military helicopters, submarines which carry nuclear missiles and aircraft bombers. The largest armaments company in the United Kingdom, BAE, is currently in contention with other major contractors to get a contract with India for 130 Eurofighter combat aircraft. BAE already has a contract with Saudi Arabia for 72 Eurofighters.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most vicious and repressive regimes on the face of the planet. In Pakistan and India, tens of millions live in abject squalor. Supplying weaponry on a grand scale to these countries flies blatantly in the face of the ideals which the EU says is stands for: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights”. (Art. 2, Treaty on European Union.)
The remit of the EDA regarding assisting European arms manufacturers to sell their wares is to ‘ensure that European companies benefit from these economic opportunities’ (A Strategy for a Stronger and more Competitive European Defence Industry, EU Commission Communication December 2007)
What this means is the European Union is putting in its Treaties a provision endorsing itself as a major arms merchant for the world.
How these provisions escape the notice of the Christian churches which have been endorsing the Lisbon Treaty is something they should explain. To have major economic power bloc blatantly providing for more criminal wastage of resources on weapons of massive destruction in the face of massive poverty and destitution on our globe should surely be a cause for strenuous objection
Internal Military Alliances – A Dangerous new Departure
The provision for ‘Permanent Structured Cooperation’ which provided essentially for internal military alliances inside the EU ‘with a view to the most demanding missions’ is a new provision with alarming implications for the future, yet it is scarcely mentioned in the debate except buy those objecting to the military and foreign policy changes in the Lisbon treaty. The kinds of missions involved are referred to in Article 43 (TEU): “…joint disarmament operations, military advice and assistance tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking and post-conflict stabilisation”.
Although it would require a unanimous vote in the EU Council to launch a mission involving the countries involved in such an alliance, once it is underway the conduct of the mission would be solely in the hands of the member states concerned. However their actions would be in the name of the EU as a whole and each Member State would be obliged to support tem.
The changes in the Lisbon Treaty to military strategy and to the Common Foreign Policy are designed to allow the EU to make its weight felt in the international forum as it jockeys in the decades ahead with other world powers for markets, raw materials and political influence. None of this is in the interests of ordinarily people in Europe or throughout the world.For more on Militaristaion, and how Lisbon removes the right of Member States to follow a foreign policy that differs from the EU majority, click here to read another article by Joe Higgins.