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European Defence Industry Lobbying in Brussels.

Written by Francesco Baronio

Edited by Chiara Nasonte

Supervised by Ginevra Bertamini

A recent article by Politico shed light on how defence lobbyists are increasingly concentrating their efforts on EU officials and policy-makers (Wheaton & Bayer, 2023). While lobbying activities have traditionally interested Member States, defence and security integration at the European level has progressively drawn the attention of both European and American defence companies (Wheaton & Bayer, 2023). In recent years, EU institutions have launched a number of defence initiatives. Most notably, the European Defence Fund (EDF) provides funding for joint capability research & development (R&D) through a €8 billion budget for the 2021-2027 window (European Commission, n.d.). Therefore, while for long Brussels had no tenders to offer, the situation is changing and defence companies are now eager to gain access to these funds (Wheaton & Bayer, 2023).

However, defence lobbying towards EU institutions is nothing but a recent phenomenon. Since the Commission envisaged the creation of funding schemes for security-related research in the early 2000s, the industry has become an increasingly crucial actor in shaping the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) (Csernatoni, 2021). By playing this role, defence companies have benefitted from funding provided by initiatives launched under the CSDP umbrella (Bigo & Jeandesboz, 2010).

Accordingly, this Info Flash attempts to sketch out how the European defence industry has managed to carve out this role throughout the last two decades. First, it provides a broad and general overview of defence industry lobbying. Then, it discusses a range of lobbying groups and platforms directly connected to EU institutions and initiatives, which have particularly enabled European defence companies to promote their interests and take an active role in shaping the CSDP. Lastly, some conclusions are drawn concerning the relationship between the Commission and the defence industry.