Saturday

21st Jan 2017

EU to propose joint defence fund

  • The prospect of Brexit and Trump has spurred the EU into action on the military front (Photo: Public Affairs Office)

The European Commission is planning to propose the creation of a fund for military procurement and research, as part of wider plans for an EU defence union.

The proposal, due out in Brussels on Wednesday (30 November) and seen by the Reuters news agency, says member states should pool money into a “European Defence Fund” that could be used to purchase items such as helicopters, warships, and drones.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Terrorist attacks in Belgium, France, and Germany have increased a sense of insecurity (Photo: Alice Latta)

It says participating states would be able to borrow from the fund to buy assets for their national militaries and would be able to offset their contributions from their EU budget targets

It also says the EU should lift a ban on using its existing budget, as well as using European Investment Bank lending, to pay for research into military technology, such as drones or cyber-defence, in a related European Defence Research Programme.

The European Defence Fund would aim to save €25 billion to €100 billion a year in procurement costs.

The EU could also allocate €90 million between 2017 and 2019 and up to €3.5 billion between 2021 and 2027 from its joint budget for the European research fund.

The European Defence Agency, a branch of the EU foreign service, in October already allocated €1.4 million for a pilot project due to run until 2018.

The project is to fund Portuguese-led research into sensors that help soldiers detect enemy troops inside buildings in urban conflict. It will also pay for Dutch and German-led research into border surveillance by drones, including by “swarms” of small, autonomous aircraft.

The Commission proposal comes amid wider plans to create an EU "defence union" in response to Brexit and to the election of Donald Trump, a Nato-sceptic, in the US.

France, Germany, Italy and Spain have said the European public wanted the EU to play a larger role in the security arena in reaction to Britain’s decision to leave the bloc and to the migration crisis.

Earlier this month, EU states agreed to create a new military command HQ in the EU foreign service and joint rapid-reaction forces that could be sent into action in African or Middle Eastern states.

Trump in his campaign speeches said that Nato was out of date and that the US might not defend allies who did not spend more on their own forces.

Twenty-two of the 28 EU member states are in Nato, but only the UK, Estonia, Poland, and Greece meet Nato's target of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defence.

According to one example of waste cited by Reuters, EU states currently have 19 types of armoured infantry fighting vehicle, compared with one in the US.

France and Germany also rely on ageing military transport planes, with some navy helicopters, for instance, grounded due to technical faults.

A recent report by the German military, also seen by Reuters, showed that its Tornado jets had a readiness rate of just 44 percent and that its Eurofighter fleet was ready 52 percent of the time.

Speaking earlier this month, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister, said the EU was undergoing a sea change in its defence structures.

“I was always for an operational Europe of defence, not a declaratory one, we are now an operational Europe of defence,” he said.

Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s foreign minister, said the new military HQ in the EU foreign service was “not yet a European general staff” but “that was the premise” of the project in terms of future development.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said “there was a growing awareness among the European public … that security is also a matter for the EU”.

Kerry to EU: Believe in yourself

Outgoing US secretary of state gives EU short pep talk from Davos, hailing its peaceful and economic success. 'It's worked, folks', he said.

Moldova turns from EU to Russia

Moldova's president said he would like to scrap an EU treaty and has started preparations to join a Russia-led bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey