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Fanning the flames: How the European Union is fuelling a new arms race - Executive Summary

March 15, 2022

At the time of writing in March 2022, a war has broken out in eastern Europe following the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops. Towards the end of 2021 unrest in the Balkans came close to boiling point. Tensions in the South China Sea continue to simmer and threaten regional and global stability. Wars and violence continue in Afghanistan, in Central Africa, Iraq, several countries across the Sahel, Syria, and Yemen among other countries and regions experiencing constant violence and consequent displacement. Some of the world's most powerful nations are sabre-rattling, drafting and deploying troops, stockpiling military materiel, and actively preparing for war – including the European Union (EU) and some of its member states. Contrary to the EU's founding principle of promoting peace, it too has been charting a course to establish itself as a global military power. History has shown, however, that far from contributing to stability and peace, militarism fuels tension, instability, destruction and devastation.In a 'watershed moment', in response to the war in Ukraine, the EU announced that it would, for the first time, fund and supply lethal weapons to a country under attack through the European Peace Facility (EPF). While this move is unprecedented, it is not unexpected. The EU has been pursuing a military path since the entry in to force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, which provides the legal underpinning to create a common security and defence policy. Less than a decade later, in a new point of departure, the EU created specific budget lines to allocate funding to military-related projects. This decision firmly set the EU on a new and deeply worrying trajectory, where international political and social problems were to be addressed not only through dialogue and diplomacy, but also through the threat of military solutions.