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CAMPAIGNERS have condemned a European Parliament decision to support a multibillion-pound budget for an EU army.
Yesterday, 328 MEPs voted in favour of a partial deal with EU ministers, with 231 against and 19 abstaining.
The proposal was for £11.2 billion (€13bn) to be allocated for the European Defence Fund from 2021-27.
Around £3.5bn (€4bn) will be allocated to research and roughly £7.8bn (€9bn) to the development of military technology.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) said: “The establishment of the fund sets a very negative precedent and drags the European Union even further down the line of military power and war.
“European governments should be co-operating and investing in jobs and research projects that promote sustainable industries and contribute to conflict resolution, not weapons.
“Regardless of people’s views on Brexit and the UK’s role in Europe, one thing all sides should agree on is that it should not be using huge sums of public money to subsidise research and development for international arms companies and others that profit from war.”
The concept of the fund was announced in 2016 by unelected European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg.
Through this fund, a total of £500m (€590m) has been allocated to the military industry in initial pilot projects for the 2017-20 period.
CAAT said the advisory group that initially developed the proposal was dominated by arms companies.
This group comprised 16 members, nine of which were from arms firms or private research groups.
Six of the companies that have already benefited from the pilot phase had representatives in the group, they said.
CAAT said the fund sets a major precedent for the EU, which has not funded such projects in the past.
On Wednesday, 1,000 researchers, academics and scientists from across Europe called for the EU Parliament to oppose the fund.
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