EU plans US$15b fund for de­fense and se­cu­rity

Shanghai Daily - - WORLD - (Reuters)

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.

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