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Country Report for the ENAAT meeting in Berlin, June 2012
Over the past year we have been busy with a number of issues, with the main ones listed below.
For the third year we have been working on EADS, focusing on their annual shareholders meeting (EADS ‘official’ headquarters are based in the Netherlands – we have a very pro-foreign business tax system). Around the AGM we organised a picket line with some 75 people - some with seed bombs - and a number of people who went inside the meeting as shareholders. While EADS, in cooperation with the intermediary banks, tried to get as many of the shareholder people outside, four managed to get inside and ask a number of nasty questions, relating to EADS involvement in nuclear weapons; drones and border security; and their deals with dictators and human rights violating governments.
In the run-up to the AGM we launched an alternative EADS annual report, focusing on what EADS should better produce as a company and what good things to the world could have been done with the money earned by the company (millennium development goals; civil rather than military production, clean aircraft).
We could run this project in part, thanks to winning a contest organised by one of the largest ethical banks in the Netherlands, where we had promoted a project on EADS and the role of financiers. We will continue this over the rest of the year, focusing on Dutch pension funds and their investments in EADS.
We continue to maintain the blog DisarmTheConflict about military relations between Israel and Europe.
WRI/ENAAT meeting in Barcelona:
Together with the London WRI office, Centre Delas and CAAT we organised a seminar on new developments in War Profiteering, covering subjects such as drones and private military companies.
Lobby and media work:
With arms trade with the Middle East and North Africa getting an enormous amount of attention, both in the political debate and in the media, a lot of work has been done to push this issue, with significant success. However, later in the year it turned out that much of the political momentum turned out to be temporary and the government soon went back to their previous business as usual approach.
However, on two issues we had lobbied on for a long time there has been real progress. Since January this year the government reports to parliament any non-EU/NATO arms deal larger than 2 million euro, together with an assessment of the implemented criteria. So far however we’ve seen only one licence (for Thailand).
Also on transit of arms – important in the Dutch context of Rotterdam harbour and Schiphol airport – the government starts implementing new legislation this summer, with stricter control of transit from EU/NATO partners to ‘problematic’ destinations. Practical implementation is still unclear and therefore deserves further monitoring.
Less positive, export stops for some of the MENA countries, as they had been installed from February 2011, were gradually lifted later in 2011 (specifically for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia), while the government also refused to follow a number of parliamentary motions, despite a majority of votes. Examples were motions to prohibit arms sales to human rights violating regimes; to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia specifically; and to stop the planned sale of surplus Leopard tanks to Indonesia.
On the latter there will be a decisive parliamentary debate next week. The issue is also relevant for Germany, which appears eager to jump in whenever a Dutch deal will fail (they have a bit older Leopards for sale as well) We have pushed the issue that Germany has the moral obligation NOT to take over the deal, as EU policies stipulate. Actually, Dutch governments for many years have made the issue to prevent ‘undercutting’ a focal point of their lobby efforts towards Brussels. Therefore, we argue, any German taking over of the deal
Moreover we have been monitoring and working together with other European groups on reported arms transports via the EU to Syria, leading to parliamentary questions in at least the UK and the Netherlands, as well as in the EP, where the Greens are also active on this.
Finally, we try and push the Dutch government to take a progressive position in the process of the review of the EU’s Common Position, which is taking place this year.
We (co-)wrote a number of reports over the past year, including:
- Lesson from MENA [November 2011, in English]
Following up on the previous year’s ‘Rhetoric or Restraint?’, largely the same group of people prepared ‘Lessons from MENA’, focusing on the Arab Spring, EU arms exports to the Middle East and North Africa and relating this to the current review of the EU Common Position on arms exports, including a series of recommendations. The report was launched and presented at the annual NGO-COARM conference in Brussels in November.
- Analysis of Dutch arms exports 2010 [December 2011, in Dutch and translated in English]
Seventh consecutive ‘alternative’ annual report on Dutch arms exports. Focus this time was very much on Dutch arms exports to the MENA region and the political debates that followed as the Arab Spring unfolded. Moreover chapters on transit of arms and major non-MENA export licences.
Total value of licences in 2010 was just over 1 billion euro, with main destinations US (large part F16 components, likely for orders from Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco), Chile (ex-KLu F16), Colombia (modernising frigates), Malaysia, Greece, Jordan, Taiwan and Peru, all with licences worth more than 25 million.
- Europe and the arms trade – from export control to industry policy [spring 2012, in Dutch]
Together with ‘Another Europe’ – a critical EU campaign organisation we wrote a booklet on European arms export and industrial policies, part of a series of booklets on EU policies
Also, we worked on an international project on climate change and security, where we wrote a chapter focusing on how the arms industry is positioning itself with an eye to potential effects of climate change.
Projects we’ll likely work on over the next year concern research into the relations between universities and the military industry; and the economic crisis, military spending and corruption in Europe.
We are now working with four people: Wendela, Mark, Foppe and Frank