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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

London MEP warns:’Don’t let austerity fuel war and rights abuses’

LONDON’S Green MEP Jean Lambert has warned that an increase in arms sales to help EU countries balance the books will fuel conflict and human rights abuses outside Europe.

Latest figures show that EU countries are spending less on weapons than this time last year – mainly as a result of shrinking national budgets – but that some countries are looking to balance their books by selling off surplus arms.

An annual survey of the arms trade  published today shows that arms sales to EU countries have fallen by 20 per cent since 2007 as nations – including the UK – try to reduce national defence budgets.

But it also shows that some countries are seeking to sell ‘surplus’ military equipment, both to reduce maintenance budgets and to raise cash to help nations balance their budgets – and reduce borrowing requirements.

“Of course is great news that EU governments are spending less money on weapons,” Ms Lambert said.

“But if we are seeing a rise in arms exports to help raise cash we’re going to see more weapons reaching conflict zones – and that can only fuel war and lead to more human rights abuses, contrary to one of the most basic principles of the EU.

“We shouldn’t be trying to resolve economic difficulties by selling more arms to repressive regimes.”