Thursday

21st Nov 2019

MEPs plan to give up veto on military subsidies

  • The European Union is planning to spend billions on the defence industry from 2021 to 2027. (Photo: NATO)

Two Green members of the European Parliament have asked parliament president Antonio Tajani to postpone the vote about a new European Defence Fund until after the EU elections.

They warned against the compromise text of the fund's regulation, which needs approval by the parliament's plenary to become law.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The controversy has pitted MEPs from the left-leaning side of the house against those from the right.

Specifically, the concern is about the parliament sidelining itself, by handing away scrutiny powers regarding how the proposed €13bn will be spent.

"In our opinion, this act is so serious that it deserves a very strong answer from the European Parliament in order to protect its interests," wrote the Belgian and German Green MEPs Philippe Lamberts and Reinhard Buetikofer, in a letter seen by EUobserver, dated 9 April.

Buetikofer had represented his group in negotiations the EU parliament has held with the European Commission and the Council of the EU (representing national governments).

The three EU institutions reached an agreement about the rules for the new EU defence fund last February, in so-called trilogue negotiations, held behind closed doors.

But just days after the deal was agreed, centre-left French MEP Edouard Martin sent a letter to Tajani, in which he raised "some serious concerns" about the outcome.

The problem was about the way the annual work programme of the EU's military fund would be decided.

The council had pressed for those programmes to be decided through so-called implementing acts, which is a type of legislation that does not require approval by MEPs.

An implementing act is proposed by the European Commission and then approved or vetoed by committees that consist of representatives of national governments.

Whether secondary legislation should be an implementing act or a delegated act - the alternative, through which MEPs do have a say - is a common bone of contention in trilogue talks.

According to Martin, parliament's lead negotiator Zdzislaw Krasnodebski "decided to give in and accepted the adoption of work programmes by means of implementing acts".

"This decision, if upheld, will not only weaken the parliament's scrutiny powers regarding the implementation of a sensitive, 13-billion-euros programme; but it will also create a damaging precedent," said the French MEP.

Krasnodebski is a Polish member who sits with the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists group.

Less than two weeks after Martin wrote his letter to Tajani, Krasnodebski followed up with a letter of his own.

It was co-signed by Dominique Riquet and Francoise Grossetete, the MEPs who followed the files for respectively the liberal group and the centre-right European People's Party.

The three wrote they were "very surprised" by Martin's letter, and the "unusual nature of this approach".

They defended the decision to agree to implementing acts instead of delegated acts, because there was a "specific and sensitive nature" related to defence policies, and that the member states had "specific prerogatives of sovereignty".

The three MEPs stressed that it would be "extremely damaging" to the EU's interests "if this significant political breakthrough should be postponed to the next mandate, or even permanently compromised".

The set-up of the European Defence Fund (EDF) shows a new direction for the EU, which previously rarely dealt with military matters.

The two Green MEPs followed up the second letter saying that now they were "very surprised" about that second letter's content.

For them, that MEPs will not have a say in how the fund's money is spent is a "severe strategic mistake".

"Precisely because the specific nature of defence and the EDF, that is, the development of lethal technology with the help of EU taxpayers money, there should be on the contrary stronger mechanisms for transparency and parliamentary control," the Green MEPs wrote.

As of Friday (12 April), the plenary debate on the EDF regulation was still scheduled for Wednesday (17 April), with a vote the next day.

It is the last plenary session of the EU parliament before elections in May.

The European Defence Fund is planned to cover the period 2021-2027.

The size of the fund - €13bn proposed by the commission - still needs approval by the member states and parliament in a separate process.

Defence firms 'reap benefits' of advice to EU

Six beneficiaries of a €35m defence research grant were also part of the EU expert group that called for more public money in for the military. 'This raises serious concerns about a conflict of interests,' says campaigner Bram Vranken.

New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle

The parliament's legal affairs committee narrowly gave the green light to France's Thierry Breton - with some MEPs critical of the candidate's links to IT firm Atos. Meanwhile, Brussels still waits for a UK commissioner.

News in Brief

  1. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  2. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  3. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  4. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  5. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  6. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  7. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'
  8. Luxembourg: EU ought to recognise Palestine

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Column

Why the EU can't do security and defence

What if the EU can't guarantee European security? In times when US physical presence does not make up for its mental absence, the question got urgent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  2. New EU financial instruments needed
  3. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  4. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  5. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  6. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  7. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  8. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us