EU to boost joint defense spending
The EU unveiled ambitious plans yesterday to boost joint defense spending including on shared assets like drones and helicopters, as concerns grow that President-elect Donald Trump may downgrade the US security commitment.
Trump shocked longtime NATO allies in Europe when he suggested on the campaign trail be would think twice about coming to their aid if they had not paid their defense dues. That prospect, combined with the Ukraine and migrant crises plus nucleararmed Britain’s shock vote to quit the European Union, have moved security sharply up the bloc’s agenda.
“If Europe does not take care of its own security, nobody else will do it for us,” European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement as the plans were announced. “A strong, competitive and innovative defense industrial base is what will give us strategic autonomy,” said Juncker, who has long pushed for a more active EU military role and ultimately what he calls a “European Army”.
To stand on its own two feet, the EU “must invest in the common development of technologies and equipment of strategic importance-from land, air, sea and space capabilities to cyber security,” he said. What is known as the European Defense Action Plan targets more efficient defense spending and increased joint research and procurement.
‘Competitive defense market’
It proposes increasing the current 25 million euros ($27 million) allocated to defense research in the overall EU budget to 90 million euros by 2020, when it should be replaced by a dedicated program worth 500 million annually. Another fund, potentially worth five billion euros per year, would help member states acquire military assets jointly so as to reduce the cost, the statement said, citing as examples drones or helicopters. —AFP