European Defence Fund has no legal basis in EU law

A legal opinion published this Wednesday the 12th of December, has concluded that the establishment of a new €13 billion European Defence Fund (EDF) is in violation of the Treaty of the European Union.

The legal opinion, written by jurist Andreas Fischer-Lescano of the University of Bremen, was commissioned by German MEP and Vice-chair of the European Parliament Committee on Security and Defence, Sabine Lösing.

Its findings state that the Treaty of the European Union (Lisbon Treaty) prohibits the financing of military or defence projects from the EU budget.

In its draft regulation, the Commission cites Articles 173(3), 182(4), 183 and 188(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Treaty of Rome), in essence, arguing that the main aim of the European Defence Fund is the support of industry and research and not, as the name would suggest, the support of defence.

A budget of 13 billion euros will be made available over the period 2021-2027 to weapon manufacturers for research and development of new technologies, including armed drones and controversial autonomous weapons. The Left Party in Germany are preparing to take the matter to the courts.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Independent MEP for Midlands Northwest, Luke Ming Flanagan condemned the proposal.

“The Commission are bending over backwards and sideways to find some basis for the fund in EU law. If they want to move ahead with their plans for the militarisation of the EU, the Treaties need to be amended. Instead of doing this, the have taken a dishonest approach, claiming that the fund is about fostering competition in industry and not about the promotion of defence capabilities.”

"The report clearly shows what we have been denouncing for a long time," said GUE/NGL MEP Sabine Lösing, speaking at the press conference in the European Parliament. "Article 41 of the EU Treaty prohibits the financing of defence and military, and thus armaments programs."

On Wednesday the 12th of December, the European Parliament approved the proposal with 337 voting in favour, 178 against and 109 abstentions.

Of the Irish MEPs, Fine Gael's Brian Hayes was the only to vote in favour of the establishment of the EDF.
Deirdre Clune and Seán Kelly of Fine Gael abstained on the vote.
Independents Luke Ming Flanagan, Marian Harkin and Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy, Liadh Ní Riada voted against.
Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness, Independent MEP Nessa Childers, Fianna Fail's Brian Crowley and Sinn Féin's Lynn Boylan were absent.

The legal opinion was published yesterday on the website of GUE/NGL:

Diarmuid HayesEU Army