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This is how the arms lobby gets what it needs from European money. “700 meetings in Brussels in 4 years.” Now they aim to provide resources to “greens” and immigrants

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Billions of dollars in defense sector funding But also from the Department of Immigration and Green Funds. European arms companies have been able to extract huge sums of money from the European Union, thanks to intense pressure in Brussels, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the outbreak of war in the Middle East.

A new report from the European Network Against Arms Trade (Anat) highlights the increasingly close links between the arms industry and European politics. Relationships built over years of meetings and “events” with MEPs and Commissioners. Founded in 2016, Anat is an informal network of 20 European peace groups from 15 countries, including the Italian Network for Peace and Disarmament.

It stands out among the most active companies in the corridors of Parliament and the European Commission Leonardo, Safran and Airbus. Moreover, the amount of money allocated by the 27 to defense continues to increase. The European Peace Fund (EPF) allocated €5.7 billion for the period 2021-2027, but on June 26 the Council decided to increase the fund to more than €12 billion. However, the ASAP Fund to increase ammunition production amounts to €500 million (of which €260 million is taken from the Environmental Protection Fund). As for direct military spending by European countries, according to data from the European Defense Agency, it grew in 2021 by 6% to reach 214 billion euros, without respecting the commitment made by the European Union so far. NATO countries allocate 2% of their GDP to the military budget.

Airbus is the most active Companies in this sector have followed European policy decision-making processes closely “Constant pressure” Through its lobbyists, it highlights Anat’s report. In coordination with the non-governmental organization Corporate Europe Observatori (CEO), the European Disarmament Network counted 175 meetings with members of the European Parliament Between 2019 and 2023, 536 With members of the European Commission. French aviation giant Airbus He is the master, with an estimated expenditure on lobbying activities of around one and a half million euros, 261 meetings with members of the Commission between 2014 and 2023 and 78 with members of the European Parliament between 2019 and 2023. Leonardo It is the third in number between 2019 and 2023, after Safran: it spent about 300 thousand euros, with a proportional number of meetings equal to five. “Only Google has more lobbying meetings in Brussels than Airbus,” he said. Bram Franken European Business Observatory. However, unlike large multinational Internet companies, Google is meta-Apple Gafawho have invested millions to maintain ties with European policymakers, here the results are more tangible: “The arms lobby is very effective, with relatively limited resources, and has achieved far more than any other lobby,” Franken continues.

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Descending numbers – “These numbers are greatly underestimated.”“, explains the CEO researcher. The reason: “Only 300 high-level officials are monitored, compared to 30,000 employees in the European apparatus, and members of the European Parliament do not always report their meetings with representatives of private companies.” Moreover, their collaborators or assistants are not required to declare about their agendas under weak transparency legislation in Europe.

“However, the numbers tell us about significant lobbying,” he estimates. sign Ackerman, are among the report’s authors. The most requested parliamentary groups are the largest: Populists, Socialists and Renew Europe. The most sought after is specifically a French MEP Natalie LoiseauChairman of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense. Loiseau was Minister of European Affairs in the government of Edouard Philippe between 2017 and 2019, during the era of Emmanuel Macron.

The report mentions “revolving doors.” Thierry BrittonHe is also the head of the recently created Directorate General for Defense Industry and Space (DG Defis), but he is also the former CEO of the French company Atos, a technology services company specializing in defense solutions. Britton is among the most frequent attendees at meetings with armed lobbyists. And vice versa in Spanish Jorge Domic He moved from the European Defense Agency to be an advisor to Airbus’s military branch in 2022.

Interests on immigrants – The activity of armed lobby groups also extends to the immigration issue. “Far from being satisfied with the European Defense Fund, arms companies have benefited from the new model Militarization of borders “For the European Union,” Ackermann explains.

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Regarding immigration policy, the military lobby has successfully pushed for border security and militarization, through the agency Frontex. Several European officials met with military and security companies to discuss the future of the EU border control and control system. Among their interlocutors, according to the report, was Giorgio Giulinetti, director of technological research at Leonardo. In March, when Frontex, together with Europol and the Commission, organized a “conference on innovative technologies to strengthen the Schengen Area”, representatives of Airbus and Safran were among the invited speakers, “to share different solutions for management and border security”. “European arms companies regularly visit Frontex headquarters in Warsaw,” Anat wrote. The (limited) transparency record shows meetings with Airbus in 2021 and 2022, for example.

Green funds and “diluted” exports – Arms companies are also increasingly pushing for other policies important to them, such as exemptions from environmental regulations, access to raw materials, and relaxation of export rules. Under discussion since November 14 is the hypothesis of including defense financing in green sustainability (ESG) policies, a process that activists describe, in their research, as “greenwashing.”

As for exports abroad, the latest data published indicated SipriThe Stockholm International Peace Research Institute indicates that the twenty-six major arms companies in Europe increased their revenues from arms sales by about 1% last year, to 121 billion euros. The European bloc as a whole is among the main exporters, and Saudi Arabia is its main customer.

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