22nd Nov 2017

EU moves closer to common arms market

  • The European arms industry is not competitive enough, experts say (Photo: NATO)

The European Union came closer to a common market for its arms industry on Saturday (1 July) when a new code of conduct came into force aimed at opening up member states' arms industries to cross-border competition.

"For the first time ever, European countries have committed to procure defence equipment from each other if the offer is the best available, instead of automatically contracting with a national supplier," said EU foreign affairs and security chief Javier Solana in a statement.

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.

"There is a common realisation that none of us can any longer afford to go it alone in the business of defence," Mr Solana added.

Out of the 25-member bloc, 22 countries signed the voluntary code of conduct which obliges participants to publish tenders for planned defence equipment contracts on an internet site - run by the European Defence Agency (EDA) - and with European companies allowed to compete for most types of contracts over €1 million.

Three countries did not sign for different reasons - Denmark because it has a permanent opt-out on security and defence matters while Hungary and Spain said they might join later.

The union's total defence spending is around €180 million a year - excluding non-EDA member Denmark.

The European arms industry has so far been protected from regular EU legislation for the bloc's internal market, as the area has been considered a crucial matter of national security - something EU countries have traditionally guarded well.

Article 296 of the current EU treaty excludes war material from competition rules, while the draft EU constitution proposes a common weapons market and procurement agency, including common rules for sale of all weapons and military equipment.

But despite the constitution having been put on ice, governments have started to cautiously open up their defence markets due to falling defence budgets and the pressures of the single market, which allows the free movement of goods across national borders.

Brussels hopes that letting companies compete across national borders within the bloc will make the European arms industry more competitive on the international market.

Head of the EDA agency Nick Witney said in a statement that "the agency will do everything it can to support the member states in this bold but essential new initiative."

Europe moves to boost competition in defence markets

EU defence ministers are set to give the green light to the first major initiative aiming to open up the European arms industry markets, strictly protected by national rules from foreign competition.


EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.


David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees

David Miliband heads the US-based International Rescue Committee, an international aid organisation. In an interview with EUobserver, he says the EU should take over 500,000 refugees.


EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual

Online retailers will no longer be able to discriminate against potential customers based on their location in the EU, but the phrase 'this video is unavailable in your region' will remain a common sight in Europe.

EU monitoring of Libyan coastguard done by Libyans

The EU trains the Libyan coastguard and set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure they respect the human rights of migrants. But the mechanism only requires Libyans to file reports about themselves.


EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual

Online retailers will no longer be able to discriminate against potential customers based on their location in the EU, but the phrase 'this video is unavailable in your region' will remain a common sight in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  3. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  4. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  5. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  6. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  7. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  8. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  9. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  11. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  12. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'

Latest News

  1. 1.3 million European citizens in call for glyphosate ban
  2. EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock
  3. David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees
  4. EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual
  5. EU monitoring of Libyan coastguard done by Libyans
  6. Greek opposition leader promises end to 'surreal' era
  7. Refugee case could topple Slovenia government
  8. Leak: EU states weaken post-Dieselgate testing