Europe is surrounded by an arc of instability. In the South, we are partly confronted with failed or fragile states that provide fertile ground for terrorist and criminal organisations. In the East, a resurgent Russia continues its hybrid war against Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea.
Hybrid tactics, including cyber and information warfare, are increasingly used to de-stabilise Western democracies.
Europe should have the means to confront these challenges. EU Member States collectively have more troops than the US and are the second largest defence spender in the world.
However, due to a lack of coordination and fragmentation, the effectiveness of this spending is considerably lower. This is a waste of taxpayers’ money and weakens our defence capabilities.
In the next few years, we must ensure better coordination through initiatives such as CARD and PESCO.
We must invest more in research and development, which is why I welcome the proposed budget of €13bn for the European Defence Fund for the next Multiannual Financial Framework.
We must establish a common European Cyber Brigade to counter increasing cyber threats.
Finally, we must be aware that the security of our neighbourhood is our security and increase our engagement in the region.
The bloc must maintain its position, says Nikos Androulakis (EL, S&D)
The EU already plays a dominant role in today’s increasingly unstable and multipolar world, as a “soft power” that promotes a global rule-based order.
With an increase in hybrid warfare tactics and threats against the EU, the bloc must enhance its capacity to maintain its position.
Enhanced cooperation is key for Europe’s future role, as the threats on our doorstep have increased exponentially.
For years now, the EU has been actively developing security and defence instruments and capabilities, also by enhancing engagement with NATO.
Cooperation on the development of defence capabilities has been expanded through the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the establishment of a European Defence Fund (EDF).
We need to ensure the inclusive structure of such tools for all Member States, not only the dominant ones.
As far as funding is concerned, additional tasks require extra financial contributions by EU Member States and certainly not via budget allocation.
All of the above needs to be closely scrutinised by the European Parliament, alongside national legislatures, in order to ensure greater efficiency of EU taxpayers’ money.
A FATAL PATH
Armaments never contribute to more security and peace, says Özlem Alev Demirel (DE, GUE/NGL)
The call for the EU to become a military “global actor” has been heard many times since the early 1990s.
The decision in 1999 to set up a rapid reaction force of 60,000 troops was followed by the first EU CSDP missions in 2003.
Since the Brexit referendum, France and Germany in particular have seized the opportunity and set the course for a common “Defence Union.”
The activation of PESCO and the “EU Global Strategy” followed shortly thereafter. The aim is to enforce EU Member States’ economic and geostrategic interests militarily if necessary and to push common major armament projects.
The upcoming MFF (2021- 2027) will contain €13bn for the so-called EU Defence Fund for Europe-wide projects (this amount can rise to €48.6bn through national co-financing).
In accordance with Article 41 (2) of the EU Treaty, measures with military or defence implications are prohibited, therefore it is highly questionable whether the fund is legally sound.
In addition to the Defence Fund, the Commission’s budget proposal also includes €6.5bn for “Military Mobility” to facilitate rapid troop deployment, in particular to Eastern Europe.
We, the GUE/NGL, denounce this path as fatal. The funds earmarked for military projects are lacking elsewhere for necessary social and infrastructural projects.
Armament has never contributed to more security and peace in the world.
Security is not only the military, says Mounir Satouri (FR, GREENS/EFA)
Safeguarding a multilateral approach regarding the control of arms and nuclear disarmament is of the utmost importance.
To ensure that resorting to nuclear arms never becomes an insult to peace, it is crucial that the EU budget is used to strengthen the union as a provider of civilian security.
Security is not only the military; it is first and foremost diplomacy, conflict prevention and reconciliation.
There are numerous challenges facing the EU - disinformation, the rise of extremism and terrorism are just a few of them. Ukraine, Libya and Syria remind us of the pressing need for a truly European policy.
On the subject of military research and development, we ask Member States to plan defence budgets together, to pool national R&D budgets and beyond (procurement, maintenance, and training resources should also be pooled).
Coherence and effectiveness are at the heart of our desire to pool resources. According to the European Commission, €25bn to €100bn of national defence budgets are lost each year.
We can do a lot better without spending yet more money.