The Defence sector provides the armed and security forces with the equipment necessary for their missions. This equipment is not like any equipment: it is purposely designed to cause harm, and even death. Its manufacturing and selling is strongly regulated by governments - and this makes full sense. The only legitimate customers are public authorities. It has an additional specific feature at European level: it is the only category of industrial goods that is not subject to the Internal Market regulations.

The production of defence and security equipment is a dilemma for trade unions. On the one hand, trade union values support international peace, democracy and the rule of law. On the other hand, these industries concentrate high-quality jobs, more than 500,000 direct jobs in the EU, with a high qualification level. Conciliating these contrasting views on the sector is permanent work for industriAll Europe.

The sector is faced with strong evolutions of the political and security landscape over the last years. Military and security threats have come closer to European borders. Terrorism, most often home-grown, has been hitting hard at the heart of European cities. Consequently, EU Member States, in the European Council of Heads of States and Governments, have since 2013 stepped up their cooperation. In all these developments, industriAll Europe makes the voice of workers heard, and ensures trade union involvement in policy-making.

A recent EU-funded project anticipates the changes facing workers as a result of greater industrial integration in defence manufacturing.

(Image: Rheinmetall press picture)