Brussels Lays Out Plan to Build Up Europe’s Defense Industry

paris — The European Union’s executive arm announced a proposal Tuesday that aims to supercharge the bloc’s defense industry’s ability to respond to the war in Ukraine, Russian aggression, and fears of waning transatlantic commitment on the part of the United States. The EU’s 27 member states still need to sign off on the proposals. 

The European Commission’s plan would boost joint European defense procurement and domestic production so more than one-third of the EU’s defense spending will benefit member states. Right now, for example, a sizable chunk of EU material supplied to Ukraine for its war against Russia was produced in the United States.  

Brussels also understands that years of post-Cold War security are over. Today, said European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Europe is in danger:  

“Peace is no more a given, unhappily the war is at our borders,” he said. “And the Russian war of aggression has brought a great sense of urgency to step up our industrial defense capacities.” 

The commission wants to earmark about $1.6 billion through 2027 to support its plan. It agrees that will in no way meet its ambitious goals. By one commission estimate, it would cost more than a $100 billion to match Washington’s defense industry.  

The initial investment, said European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager, would act as an incentive.  

“The real funding for a stronger defense comes from member states, and that funding will increase over the years to come,”  said Vestager. “So what we can do here is to enable that funding to be spent in a better way, that we get more value for money, and that more, relatively speaking, is being spent in Europe as well.” 

EU countries are finally reversing decades of shrinking defense investments. Many who are also NATO members are expected to meet the alliance’s 2 percent GDP spending target this year.  

Experts said this wakeup call is late in coming. The EU, for example, is missing its March target to deliver 1 million shells it promised Ukraine. That’s now supposed to happen by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are struggling — and some European leaders fear Europe may be Russia’s next target.  

Additionally, billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine are stalled in the U.S. Congress. Concerns also are growing that Washington’s support for NATO and Kyiv could decrease if Donald Trump returns to office.

“We have to build up the defense industry, obviously,” said French security analyst Francois Heisbourg. “But things are going more quickly than the time to take to build up the defense industry.”  

EU member states still need to greenlight the commission’s proposals — and that’s expected to take time.

your ad here

leave a reply: