EU Funding of Arms Production: A Dangerous Precedent
High-intensity conflict is on the horizon. That’s why the European Union broke all precedent—and a fundamental treaty—by deciding on May 3 to unlock €500 million (us$543.8 million) in additional funds for the production of ammunition. As the war in Ukraine drags on, Europe is aiming to reach unprecedented military unity.
Rapid production of missiles and artillery shells is currently the EU’s priority. “When it comes to defense, our industry must now switch to war economy mode,” said Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market. The new plan would provide €3 billion for weapons production and procurement. According to that plan, €1 billion would be devoted to sending shells to Ukraine, another billion to purchasing new shells, and a final billion to increasing Europe’s production capacity.
According to the official press release, “The Act in Support of Ammunition Production (asap) is unprecedented. We want to directly support, with EU money, the ramp-up of our defense industry for Ukraine and for our own security.” However, to make this idea a reality, the intent of a foundational treaty will need to be ignored.
As one EU diplomat told the Financial Times, Brussels had to engage in some “creative thinking” to justify its plans. The problem was that the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (tfeu) explicitly bans EU funding for weapons production of any sort. How, then, does Brussels plan to forge ahead with this project? Member states will receive their money through the European cohesion funds, which are meant to provide financial aid to poorer nations within the union. Coronavirus recovery funds will also be repurposed for military production.
Technically speaking, it is up to each member state how cohesion funds and coronavirus stimulus funds are spent. If a member state happens to spend this on ammunition, purportedly with the intention of helping Ukraine, the EU will not raise any objections. The act is likely to be formally accepted before summer. Though some see it as an unequivocal violation of the tfeu, Europe is set to press ahead.
Changing Times: An Opportunity for Europe
“Providing a comprehensive response to the sudden increase of relevant defense products demand requires a rapid and coordinated action at European level as no single member state is capable of achieving this alone,” reads the proposal. For decades, the EU’s defense production has been oriented toward peacekeeping and limited anti-terrorism missions. This era is coming to a close.
From now on, Europe’s defense production must prepare for high-intensity conflict. Europe’s industrial base “does not have the scale today to meet the security needs of Ukraine and our member states,” said Breton. “We can and must revitalize it to adapt it to the needs of high-intensity conflict.”
At a strategic level, the EU seeks to become more vigilant against potential bottlenecks in the supply chain. The act has the potential to permit greater specialization: EU member states with expertise in one field could produce equipment needed by another nation, leading to more sharing of industrial know-how. A separate but related act will seek to establish joint procurement of weapons. In theory, orders for new weapons would be made in cooperation between all member states, sharing the load of production and avoiding duplicated effort.
Though the war in Ukraine is used to justify the hasty transition to EU-funded arms production, it is clear that Europe will also benefit from it over the long term.
“This is not only for the benefit of the Ukrainian armed forces in their fight to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty against the Russian invasion,” stated EU High Representative Josep Borrell, “but also for the security of the European Union.”
From ‘Camel’ to ‘Beast’
History shows that even in between wars, Europe is not to be underestimated. Though its arsenals may currently be depleted by the loss of old weapons and ammunition shipped to Ukraine, this could aid preparations for the wars of the future.
In The Gathering Storm, Winston Churchill noted the instructions of German industrialist Walther Rathenau to the German General Staff: “‘They have destroyed your weapons,’ he had told the generals, in effect. ‘But these weapons would in any case have become obsolete before the next war. That war will be fought with brand new ones, and the army which is the least hampered with obsolete material will have a great advantage.’”
It is possible that a similar strategy is at play today. The United States, Britain and France considered it impossible for Germany to reemerge as a military superpower within such a short time, given the gap in technology and production. However, Germany closed this gap and surpassed the Allies by designing new, high-tech weapons, converting its factories for war production and instituting a war economy. Europe appears to be following a similar path today.
Many argue that the EU could never pose a threat to the world due to the inherent limitations of unanimity voting and bureaucracy. As author and journalist T.R. Reid observed in The United States of Europe, “If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, as the old joke goes, then the ridiculously complicated structure of the European Union councils, commissions, courts, committees and parliament scattered around various European cities make up a huge camel of a government—an awkward, ugly beast that somehow manages to perform its necessary functions in a difficult environment.”
Despite this, the Trumpet believes that in response to crises like the war in Ukraine, the EU’s leadership will change dramatically. Soon, this ungainly “camel” will be transformed into a deadly beast.
Revelation 17:1 discusses “a beast … having seven heads and ten horns.” As explained in greater depth in Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?, this prophecy describes a European superpower, to be composed of only 10 “kings” or strong leaders (Revelation 17:10). The fact that this same beast is described as “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly” in Daniel 7 indicates that Europe will overcome its bureaucracy and quickly militarize. It will be led by a German strongman.
The Bible also predicts one major reason for Europe’s unification. At the beginning of the war, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry drew attention to this reason in our May-June issue. In “Bible Prophecy Comes Alive in Ukraine,” he wrote:
We need to watch Vladimir Putin closely. I believe he is almost certainly the “prince of Rosh” whom God inspired Ezekiel to write about 2,500 years ago! We need to watch what is happening in Russia and how Europe responds. Daniel 11:44 talks about “tidings out of the east” troubling Europe. Putin’s tactics in Georgia, Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere are already deeply troubling to Europe and the world.
The most important nation to watch right now is Germany. How will it respond to Putin’s war on Ukraine? This Ukraine war will speed up the rise of the prophesied German-led Holy Roman Empire! It is happening already!
Russia is becoming increasingly aggressive, and other crises are developing in the Middle East and Africa. Now that the EU has taken the step of funding weapons production, the EU’s efforts to build a unified military will only increase. In a world full of drones, missiles and nuclear weapons, this trend takes on even greater importance than Germany’s rearmament before World War ii. Our free booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? will give you a clear understanding of where this trend will lead, both for Europe and the rest of the world. It will also make plain the only way that lasting peace can, and will, become reality.