EU plans US$15b fund for defense and security
THE European Union’s executive proposed yesterday a 13 billion euro (US$15.3 billion) defense and security fund for the first time to help build up depleted militaries that are heavily reliant on the United States.
The fund for the 2021-2027 period aims to support the EU’s efforts to integrate militaries — plans that were long blocked by Britain because it feared the creation of an EU army — and defend against Islamic militants and a resurgent Russia.
“It shows we are serious,” EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said at the European Parliament, which along with EU governments must agree to the plan.
Separately, the European Commission also proposed a 10.5 billion euro “European Peace Facility” to fund EU military missions abroad.
Failings in Europe’s bombing campaign in Libya in 2011, when the US had to step in with refueling planes, and Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea have reignited calls for greater EU defense cooperation that date back to the 1950s but have made little progress.
The money for the EU fund will come from the bloc’s common budget, split between 4 billion euros for research and 9 billion euros for developing prototypes that would be the basis for new hi-tech uniforms, drones, radars, ships and aircraft.
Under the plan, the fund would cover 20 percent of the military development costs, meaning EU governments would also put forward money to raise the overall size of the fund.
While Britain long resisted such proposals and preferred to rely on NATO for EU defense, British officials have approached the commission in recent months to seek involvement of Britain defense contractors in lucrative EU projects.