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22nd Jan 2021

Nato wants EU countries to buy more drones

  • Rasmussen also said Nato and the EU might help to build a new Libyan army in a precedent for other north African countries (Photo: nato.int)

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen wants EU countries to buy more drones, refuelling planes and naval radars.

The head of the military alliance is expected to call for the measures at a speech in the Carnegie Europe foundation in Brussels on Thursday (19 September).

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"I believe that European nations can, and should, do more, to match America's commitment … [and] help to rebalance Nato," he aims to say.

"I would like to see European allies playing their part to acquire more drones to improve surveillance. More large transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft to enhance their ability to deploy on operations. And more upgraded radars on their ships so they can be integrated into our Nato missile defence," he plans to add.

Looking ahead to an EU summit on defence in December, he also plans to endorse European Commission ideas on how to create "a strong European defence industrial base."

He is to say "the European defence industry remains too national and too fragmented."

He also aims to urge EU leaders to "demonstrate strong political commitment" to spend more on defence when their economies recover from the crisis and "to assume more security responsibilities in Europe's neighbourhood."

The EU commission in July published a draft blueprint for EU defence co-operation.

It proposed a series of actions, including the creation of EU-level certification standards for military equipment, such as chemical and nuclear detection technology, airworthiness of aircraft and data encryption instruments.

It aims to crack down on state aid and other market distortions in the sector.

It intends to give more EU money to train defence sector workers and to fund research into military technology.

It wants EU countries to pool buying of military and commercial satellite technology.

It is also keen to launch an assessment of whether some kinds of assets, especially "dual-use" technology, which can be used in civilian or military missions, should be "directly purchased, owned and operated by the Union."

The commission paper said EU countries' total defence budgets have gone from €251 billion a year to €194 billion since 2001, while total EU military R&D spending is just €9 billion, seven times less than the US.

It noted that 80 percent of current defence spending is done at national level.

It also said the future of the 1.36 million people who work in member states' military-related companies is at risk unless Europe makes the sector more competitive.

Like Rasmussen, it noted that "the US is rebalancing its strategic focus towards Asia."

It added: "Europe must be able to decide and to act without depending on the capabilities of third parties. Security of supply, access to critical technologies and operational sovereignty are therefore crucial."

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