Monday, 16 September 2013

EU military spending: the “elephant in the room”

At a time of harsh cuts in social services, it is morally unjustifiable to spend money on weapons instead of investing it to create jobs and tackle poverty, argues a new report by the Transnational Institute. High levels of military spending by EU states have played an important part in the unfolding EU debt crisis, continuing to undermine efforts to resolve that crisis.
The Transnational Institute was established in 1974 as a group of researchers committed to providing intellectual support to movements struggling for a more democratic, equitable and environmentally sustainable world.
The report, Guns, Debt and Corruption: MilitarySpending and the EU Crisis, demonstrates how military budgets throughout Europe have been largely protected, at a time of severe social cuts. Military expenditure totalled €194 billion in 2010, equivalent to the combined annual deficit of Greece, Italy, and Spain.
The latest data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute suggests that there is little change in these trends. The report reveals how high levels of military spending in such countries as Greece, Cyprus and Spain, which are at the centre of the euro crisis, played a significant role in their debt crises. And much of the military spending was tied to arms sales by creditor-countries, including Germany and France.
In Portugal and Greece, several major arms deals are being investigated for serious irregularities. Yet creditor-countries continue to hawk new arms deals to debtor-countries while demanding ever more stringent cuts in social services.
The report argues that resolving the debt crisis will require cancellation of the debt tied to corrupt arms deals and a redirection of military spending towards social needs. It shows that spending on education and public transport creates twice as many jobs as investment in defence.
The author of the report, Frank Slijper, said:
“Global military spending was still at a record €1.3 trillion in 2011 despite the global economic crisis. Even in Europe most countries still spend more than ten years ago. The only austerity that Europe really needs is one imposed on the military and the arms industry.
“It is time for Brussels and EU member states to publicly acknowledge the ‘elephant in the room’ of the current EU debt crisis and that is the role of military spending. At a time of harsh cuts in social services, it is morally unjustifiable to spend money on weapons that should be invested in creating jobs and tackling poverty.”
 Frank Slijper will speak in Dublin in October at a conference on EU militarisation jointly sponsored by the People’s Movement and the Peace and Neutrality Alliance. 

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