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European Commission now wants to meddle in our defence industries

24 July 2013

European Commission now wants to meddle in our defence industries

In proposals aimed at extending its involvement in defence industrial production, the European Commission has published (24 July) proposals to foster cooperation among EU countries on defence matters.

In proposals aimed at extending its involvement in defence industrial production, the European Commission has published (24 July) proposals to foster cooperation among EU countries on defence matters. The EU’s commissioner for the internal market, Michel Barnier is urging Europe to “earn its sovereignty and not be forced to go buy equipment outside of Europe.”

Conservative Defence Spokesman, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, commented:

“The European Commission keeps returning to take another bite out of this particular cherry. It is obsessed with creating an EU ‘defence technological and industrial base (DTIB)’, which it sees as fundamental to the EU’s military ambitions. Its driving motive is political. It is a step in the direction of European political integration. Commissioner Barnier’s remarks say it all.

“Of course, some defence collaborative projects can be worthwhile. But most spending on defence equipment in Europe is by Britain and four other countries. Over the decades they have created consortia for collaborative projects – these include the 3-nation Tornado, the 4-nation typhoon, and the multination A400M transport. As one expert analysis has concluded ‘There is no evidence to justify even larger consortia or, indeed, involvement of the institutions of the European Union’[1] In fact, the most efficient projects are bi-lateral.”

“Britain’s defence industrial sector is the largest in Europe – it employs over 100,000 people and accounts annually for some £20 billion in sales. It is crucial to our export drive and vital to the health of our armed forces, which need the best equipment available. That means working with the United States and other countries, as well as companies in Europe. The importance of this sector is shown by the recent announcement by the Government of some £90 million of funding to develop new, advanced aerospace technologies.

“The last thing our defence industries need is the involvement of the European Commission.”

[1] “White Elephants? The Political Economy of Multi-National Defence Projects”, Prof Keith Hartley, published by New Direction, October 2012

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