21st Mar 2018

EU countries outgunned on arms trade

Arms sales to European countries have fallen by over 20 percent since the financial crisis, according to a report released on Monday (18 March).

An annual survey by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Swedish think-tank, indicates that European countries are being outstripped by Asia on the military front.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Asian countries are closing the gap on arms (Photo: Defence Images)

Overall, international transfers of major conventional arms grew by 17 percent between 2003-2007 and 2008-2012, with Asia and Oceania taking 47 percent of arms imports.

In contrast, deliveries to European countries declined by 20 percent as governments attempt to make cuts to national defence budgets.

Crisis-hit Greece, one of the EU's biggest arms importers prior to the financial crisis, has fallen from 4th to 15th in the bloc's list of arms buyers.

Deep cuts to Greek defence spending were one of the preconditions for the country's multi-billion rescue package.

Meanwhile, SIPRI says that other member states, including Portugal and Spain, are bidding to sell military aircraft that they no longer have the money to maintain.

Mark Bromley, a SIPRI analyst commented that "with the financial crisis in Europe, the withdrawal from Iraq and the drawdown in Afghanistan, we can expect to see Europe trying to export a considerable volume of surplus military equipment."

The US comfortably remains the single largest exporter of weapons, accounting for 30 percent of worldwide arms sales between 2008-2012.

Its former Cold War adversary Russia is responsible for 26 percent of sales, while Germany and France are third and fourth with 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

The UK fell out of the top five for the first time since records began in 1950, with China taking its place.

In a statement, SIPRI said this was the first change to the top five sine the end of the Cold war.

Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program, noted that "recent deals indicate that China is establishing itself as a significant arms supplier."

He added that China’s rise is primarily driven by “large-scale arms acquisitions by Pakistan.”

EU arms trade booming despite crisis

Firms in the UK, France, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Europe's own European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company made around €75 billion from selling weapons in 2010.

Whistleblower fears for life as US arrest Malta bank chair

US authorities have arrested the chair of the Maltese-registered Pilatus Bank for tax evasion. The bank facilitated political corruption in Malta but its whistleblower is now facing jail in Malta and fears for her life.

US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Washington would still like to block a planned gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but is not yet considering hitting companies involved in the project.

News in Brief

  1. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  2. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  3. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  4. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  5. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  6. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  7. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad
  8. Norway's far-right doubles support as minister resigns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  2. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrest Malta bank chair
  3. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  4. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  5. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  6. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus
  7. EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm
  8. 'Denial' - is meat the new climate change?