Race to rearmament in the EU, the focus is on joint purchases using the common budget (as for vaccines). “Insufficient defense spending”

The race for EU rearmament passes byUkraine. As announced yesterday by the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyenthe States are ready to allocate “an additional 200 billion of euro of defense expenses in the next few years “. A commitment that is the head of Palazzo Berlaymont that the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrellthey define necessary because of the “Silent disarmament process” which took place between 2008 and 2014, when “we reduced our military capabilities in a really way shocking“. Thus, in light of the security threats highlighted by the Ukrainian conflict, Bruxelles has decided to invest heavily in the military sector, with a purchase plan that has to be though coordinated between Member Statesunlike in the past, a bit like the purchase of stock of vaccines to counter the spread of the pandemic coronavirus.

“The return of the war in Europe highlighted the effects of years of insufficient spending for defense – said von der Leyen at the Vip Corner of Palazzo Berlaymont – We have lost a decade in defense investments due to all these cuts. However, Member States are now reversing this trend. Now we need to keep up the momentum. We need to ensure that this money is spent in a coordinated way, that it fills the capacity gaps identified by both the EU and the Nato, which strengthens our European defense industrial base in the long term ”. An impetus that must take place in a coordinated manner, as happened with the procurement of vaccines, and not in no particular order, so as to anticipate the mode of operation which will have to be consolidated and implemented in the perspective of a project common defense: “We ask for a joint procurement because it is operationally better for the armed forces, financially and industrially – added the president – And it strengthens our vast network of innovative SMEs. We will immediately institute one task force with Member States to coordinate immediate replenishment and procurement needs. It will be accompanied by a financial incentive tool for the joint purchase. And in the autumn we will propose a regulation to ensure that joint procurement benefits from thetotal exemption from VAT. This will strengthen our independence and resilience. And at the same time it will strengthen NATO ”.

The current situation, after the aforementioned “slow disarmament process” which began in 2008, is described as a real problem by Borrell: “Everyone did it for themselves. The result is that Europe from a military point of view, as a set of 27 armies, is deformed, with duplicity and shortages. We need to put our military capabilities back up to the challenges that exist ”, even at the level of the defense industry that“ must be developed ”. “Today – he continues – we buy over 60% of military equipment outside Europe. It’s too much, we need to reduce our dependence“From the outside. “It is not an arms race, but the stopping of disarmament. And the threats exist, we must face them, also to help the friendly countries that have to face them. We need to be able to act in the military field as we already do in the diplomatic field ”.

But if the words of the two representatives of the Commission seem to describe a situation of strong European military weakness compared to the other major world powers, this is partially denied by the data. In fact, it is true that investments at European level in the defense sector in recent years have been, in percentage terms, below the average of other world players, but in absolute numbers the EU remains one of the most important military powers on a global level. Bruxellesin fact, cites the data onincrease in military spending from 1999 to 2021in which it emerges that “the EU as a whole has increased spending by only 20%, the US by 66%, Russia by 292%, China by 592%”. Mario Draghihowever, he noted that “The EU spends three times more than Russia”. And you are not mistaken: according to the data Sipri published by Tomorrow, “In 2014, in the pre-Brexit EU, 244 billion dollars were spent, in 2019 they became 280, in 2021 they were 304 when calculating the United Kingdom, 242 without. There Russia spent 64 billion in 2014, 60 in 2019 and 63 in 2021. The China it disbursed 183 billion in 2014, 246 in 2019 and 270 in 2021. The Usa 708 billion in 2014, 743 in 2019, 768 in 2021 ″. Only US military spending, therefore, can be considered significantly higher than that of Europe.

There is not only the optimization of spending thanks to coordination between states, which the EU wants to encourage with the exemption from VAT and reliefs for the purchasers of war material, but also the urgent need, they argue, to increase the quantities of armaments available to EU countries. First of all to prepare for new supplies to Ukraine to resist the Russian offensive, but also to lay the foundations for a real European arsenal that it is vast, complete and well organized, avoiding “duplicate” purchases caused by poor coordination. The Commission’s pilot investment covers until 2024, thanks to half a billion of the European budget. But until today the existence of a European defense fund it did not favor collaboration between the various governments: “Despite the increase in European defense spending in 2020 – the Commission said -, investments made in a collaborative way fell to 11%”.

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