Monday

25th Oct 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

News in Brief

  1. Russia's anti-vax campaign backfired, EU says
  2. China angered as MEPs call for Taiwan talks
  3. Emissions from La Palma volcano reach Brussels
  4. Body of eighth victim of Belarus border-crisis found in river
  5. Report: Syrian bank fiddling currency to evade EU sanctions
  6. Nato adopts plan to counter new Russian threats
  7. Alleged killer of British MP 'felt affiliated' to IS
  8. Coronavirus: Belgium returns to 'red' zone

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. EU states want more Belarus sanctions
  2. Gas price spike exposes rift at EU summit
  3. Poland vows not to give into EU 'blackmail' at summit
  4. EU vows to uphold Paris climate ambition amid scientists' fears
  5. Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'
  6. Europe can't ignore Chinese encroachment in Ukraine
  7. Lithuania - where 'biodiversity funding' is cutting down trees
  8. Dutch lawyers take Frontex to EU court over pushbacks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us