Lisbon hides ticking time bomb of EU defence body
Lisbon hides ticking time bomb of EU defence body

By Vincent Browne (for the Irish Times)

The Lisbon Treaty proposes to incorporate the European Defence Agency within the institutional structure of the European Union.

Among the tasks of the EDA will be to co-ordinate the military equipment of EU member states to ensure there is greater efficiency and synchronisation of the military capacities of member states in the conduct of humanitarian and peacekeeping projects. It also sponsors research on measures to improve the protection of military personnel engaged in such missions.

The EU has already participated in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and in Africa, most recently in Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These initiatives have won widespread approval and support and the intervention in Congo, in particular, may have saved thousands of lives.

If this was all the EDA was up to, how could any of us complain? We are all in favour of peace, in favour of rescuing populations from starvation, war and natural disasters, and doing everything we can to protect our soldiers engaged in such laudable undertakings. But, regrettably, this is not all the EDA is up to and this is not all the Lisbon Treaty would facilitate, if endorsed by the Irish people.

The EDA was the brainchild primarily of the European armaments industry, the huge corporations that make vast profits from manufacturing the instruments of war. Of course EU peacekeeping forces require armaments to accomplish their tasks, but the sale of arms for such purposes would not keep the European armaments industry in being.

Its purpose is to compete with the American armaments industry in selling arms to armies around the world, including such states as Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Israel and a host of dictatorial regimes in Africa and elsewhere.

The Lisbon Treaty states: “Member states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. The agency . . . shall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector . . .”

The EDA was established on July 12th, 2002, by the EU Council of Foreign Ministers, but could not be part of the EU’s institutional structure without a change of the treaties. The Lisbon Treaty seeks to remedy that.

On October 3rd, 2006, the EDA published An Initial Long-Term Vision for European Defence Capability and Capacity Needs. The document attempts to project military requirements by 2025 and in that context it states Europeans will make up just 6 per cent of the world’s population, with an average age of 45.

In contrast Africa’s population will probably rise by almost half to 1.3 billion with an average age of 22, many of them concentrated in slums in vast cities. It states: “The implications for despair, humanitarian disaster and migratory pressures are obvious.”

It goes on to deal with EU energy requirements. It says: “By 2025 Europe will be extremely dependent for 90 per cent of its oil and 80 per cent of its gas. China and India, in particular, will drive global energy demand and seek new sources in central Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”

It then goes on to remark: “In this and other ways, European security interests may be directly or indirectly challenged by tensions arising not only in the near neighbourhood but also further afield.”

What would be the point of these observations in a document dealing with Europe’s long-term military requirements were it not contemplated that military operations would be undertaken to deal with migratory pressures or resource demands?

Nowhere in the document is there any suggestion that EU military operations would require UN sanction. Neither is there anything to that effect in the Lisbon Treaty.

It does see a problem with the use of weapons that have indiscriminate effect, but states lamely: “Serious thought needs to the given to the future utility of unguided munitions (and of aircraft that cannot use smart weapons), as well as cluster bombs, mines and other weapons of indiscriminate effect.” The implication being that only the “utility” of such weapons should be considered.

Not surprisingly it speaks of the EU becoming “a global security actor” (“security” being a cosy synonym for “military”).

Later on it states: “If Europe is to preserve a broadly based and globally competitive defence technological and industrial base . . . it must take to heart the facts that the US is outspending Europe six to one in defence RD; that it devotes some 35 per cent of its defence expenditure to investment . . . as against the European level of about 20 per cent; and that it is increasingly dominant in global export markets . . . There is no future for a defence industry in Europe that does not supply what our future armed forces actually require and what export customers may be interested to buy.”

By incorporating the EDA in the institutional structure of the EU, the Lisbon Treaty seeks to accord status to a project that, in part, is about boosting the manufacture of arms for sales around the world and seeks to further plans for wars for resources and for the containment of migrants.

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