Wednesday

7th Dec 2022

EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities

  • EU countries need to refill their stockpiles, get rid of Soviet-era weapons and strengthen air capabilities, the EU Commission found (Photo: Yarden Sachs)
Listen to article

The EU Commission has proposed for member states to jointly spend on defence capabilities to decrease fragmentation and duplication as the bloc faces Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The commission on Wednesday (18 May) put forward its assessment of "investment gaps" on defence capabilities — after EU leaders asked them to screen defence spending when they met in Versailles back in March.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Persistent underspending and lack of cooperation have resulted in critical defence capability shortfalls," the commission document pointed out.

"We need to spend together and better," EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.

The proposal for the EU to buying arms and military capabilities jointly fits into the efforts by the bloc to buying vaccines together and plans to buy gas together.

"By buying together, EU countries can get a better deal," commission vice-president Margarethe Vestager told reporters on Wednesday.

Borrell said there is "fragmentation and duplication" everywhere in the EU.

He pointed out that while the US has one type of tank, there are 12 different types of tanks in the EU, which increases logistical costs, and lacks interoperability.

"We need to know what equipment we have, where to prioritise investments, and how to coordinate among one another," Vestager said.

She added that in the last 20 years EU countries have increased defence spending by 20 percent, while at the same time Russia increased spending by 300 percent, and China by 600 percent — albeit from different starting levels.

EU countries are set to increase their defence budgets by close to €200bn so far in the coming years, the commission said.

The commission has talked about a "wake up call" in the shadow of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Since the euro crisis, there has been a "silent process of disarmament", Borrell said.

The commission has said it would invest €500m over two years for joint procurement in cases where at least three member states decide to buy together.

As the EU is facing an increased threat from Russia, it also needs to refill its stocks after several member states have supplied weapons to Ukraine in its fight with Russia.

Another goal is to phase out existing Soviet-era weapons systems still in use within EU member states. Reinforcing air and missile defence systems is also a short-term aim for the bloc.

In 2020, only 11 percent of investment was spent collaboratively, below the 35-percent benchmark agreed by EU governments previously.

In the meantime, Finland and Sweden have said they will buy portable firearms and anti-tank weapons together.

The two countries will step up their cooperation in defence procurement by Finland joining an agreement to acquire anti-tank weapons from Swedish weapons maker Saab Dynamics.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the Nato alliance on Wednesday, a decision sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

There has been objections raised by Turkey but most Nato member support the two Nordic countries joining the alliance.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said he thought the issues could be resolved.

"We are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions," Stoltenberg said.

Weapons to Ukraine? It may be too late

Weapons shipments may not be much of a quick fix for Ukraine in the face of an integrated and well equipped invasion force like Russia's.

Column

Autocrats make us all less secure

How should democratic states co-operate with authoritarian governments in the future? My organisation, Democracy Reporting International, has studied the security strategies of 13 democratic governments to understand how they see this relationship.

Opinion

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  2. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  3. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  4. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  5. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  6. Autocrats make us all less secure
  7. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity
  8. German top court declares €800bn EU recovery fund 'legal'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us