03 February 2023,   16:39
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Europeans should spend more on defence and above all spend better, i.e. together - Josep Borrell

Europeans should spend more on defence and above all spend better, i.e. together, writes Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission in his personal blog.

“The debate on European security and the EU’s role as well as that of our strategic partners is in full swing. The recent NATO summit in Madrid was a success for the Transatlantic alliance, both in terms of the strategic unity it displayed and the concrete decisions it took. The summit put renewed emphasis on NATO’s collective defence task including plans to strengthen its presence on the eastern flank and enhance the overall number of high readiness forces. All leaders re-stated their commitment to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s aggression until it can recover its sovereignty in full. Leaders also agreed to proceed with the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden, which further strengthens the sense of transatlantic unity at a critical time.

The task now is to take our strategic partnership with NATO to the next level and show how we as EU can take greater responsibility for our own security.

All this is unreservedly good news for European citizens and the EU. The EU’s Strategic Compass agreed in March and the NATO 2022 Strategic Concept adopted at the Madrid Summit demonstrate that our respective assessments of the strategic environment are fully convergent, and US President Joe Biden has personally welcomed the EU’s Strategic Compass and the ambitious agenda it contains. The task now is to take our strategic partnership with NATO to the next level and show how we as EU can take greater responsibility for our own security. In fact, these tasks are two sides of the same coin and going forward I see three main elements:

We need more deployable and inter-operable forces, ready to address the full spectrum of threats and risks. This means Europeans should spend more on defence and above all spend better, i.e. together. The fact that EU member states have said they will increase defence spending, by a total of around €200 billion, is most welcome. However, unless the proportion that is spent on joint development and procurement increases, the risk is that a lot of that extra investment will go to waste. The defence investment gap analysis presented to EU Leaders last May shows the nature of the problem, but also what can be done, for example with the Commission and the European Defence Agency supporting member states to proceed with joint procurement. One urgent example is the replenishing of stockpiles depleted due to the delivery of military equipment to Ukraine. Jointly acquiring capabilities not only serves the EU’s security and defence agenda, they are also necessary for NATO Allies to protect Europe against threats from Russia.

As important as procuring the necessary capabilities is the need to demonstrate our willingness to use them”, - writes Josep Borrell.

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