“[My time at ACA] prepared me very well for the position that I took following that with the State Department, where I then implemented and helped to implement many of the policies that we tried to promote.”
– Peter Crail
Business Executive for National Security
June 2, 2022
EU Approves Nonproliferation Framework

Oliver Meier

The European Parliament May 17 approved a seven-year budget framework for the European Union that is likely to lead to that body spending on average €141 million ($180 million) annually for the period 2007-2013 on nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear safety measures. EU officials said the measure should allow the EU and European governments to expand the scope and geographic reach of such activities, if sufficient funding is forthcoming.

The amount of spending on these programs may be adjusted up or down on an annual basis and is difficult to compare with previous spending because of the complex EU budget process.

The budget framework reflects an attempt to simplify budget structure and consolidates many previously separate thematic and regional budget lines. It also sets limits on how much the European Commission (the executive body and main bureaucracy of the EU) can spend on arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation. But the new budget structure does not solve the problem that two distinct and at times competing EU institutions—the European Commission and the Council of the European Union—will continue to manage nonproliferation and disarmament funds. The council represents the collective will of EU member states’ governments.

Many European programs on nonproliferation and disarmament are expected to be subsumed under a new Stability Instrument on which the EU will spend €2.35 billion ($3 billion) over the next seven years. A maximum of 15 percent (€353 million or $450 million), of the Stability Instrument is set aside for nonproliferation, described as “risk mitigation and preparedness relating to chemical, nuclear and biological materials or agents.” Commission nonproliferation efforts in the past have focused on programs to secure former Soviet Union fissile material and retrain former Soviet scientists involved in weapons of mass destruction programs. Exact budget numbers to be spent on these efforts will only be determined in the process of the EU’s annual and multi-annual budget cycles.

Programs to improve nuclear safety have constituted a large part of the EU’s nonproliferation efforts to date. Such efforts, which are separate from the Stability Instrument, will continue to consume more funding than the Stability Instrument nonproliferation programs. It is estimated that spending on nuclear safety activities will amount to €465 million ($597 million) over the next seven years. In the past, the European Commission has included spending on nonproliferation and nuclear safety activities as part of its €1 billion ($1.28 billion) pledge under the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction established by the Group of Eight (G-8) countries at a summit in Kananaskis, Canada, in June 2002.

Under that initiative, also known as “10 Plus 10 Over 10,” the seven members of the group other than the United States have collectively promised to match a U.S. pledge of $10 billion over 10 years for threat reduction activities. The commission pledge is separate from individual pledges by France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, which are all G-8 member states. The Global Partnership intends to secure or eliminate residual materials and weapons from the former Soviet Union considered vulnerable to unauthorized use or theft as well as to re-employ weapon scientists in peaceful pursuits. (See ACT, May 2006.)

Alexander McLachlan of the External Relations Department of the European Commission told Arms Control Today May 19 that the budget agreement “at least on paper” gives the EU the ability to expand the geographical and thematic scope of its nonproliferation activities. Thus, the EU now can spend money on biological and chemical weapons control as well as on the implementation of the nonproliferation clauses included in agreements made with third countries. This includes, for example, assisting efforts to improve export controls and crisis response capacities. (See ACT, May 2005.)

“This broader remit is certainly a positive thing in the sense that, taken together with the work being done under the Common Foreign and Security Policy [CFSP], it enables the EU to become a more global actor on nonproliferation,” McLachlan said.

The CFSP was initiated in 1992 after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in an effort to steer a common approach to foreign policy and security issues. It has gathered strength and garnered increased funding in recent years—trends that are expected to continue. It has its own secretariat, led by Javier Solana, the current high representative for the CFSP.

Over the next seven years, a minimum of €1.74 billion ($2.23 billion) has been allocated for the CFSP, averaging about €250 million ($320 million) annually. But spending may well top that. In 2006, €102.4 million ($132 million) had been allocated for CFSP-related actions; a 2007 budget proposal, tabled in early May 2006, calls for about €159.2 million ($204 million).

Although the EU annually revisits the amount of the CFSP budget that will go toward nonproliferation and disarmament, previous spending has averaged about 10 percent. This includes funds spent on so-called Joint Actions, which have been used, for example, to support the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

* Dollar figures are given at current exchange rates.