EU to boost defense cooperation, revitalize military spending

The European Union has unveiled a plan to boost joint defense cooperation among member states and revitalize the bloc’s military spending.

The European Commission, which oversees the EU budget, said on Wednesday that the multibillion-euro plan would fund research and investment on areas like encrypted software or robotics and promote joint defense programs, including drones and helicopters.

“This is not about an EU army, this is not about spending on the military instead of social security,” European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told reporters, adding, “We face multiplying threats and we must act.”

The plan is believed to be the EU’s biggest defense research program in more than a decade.

According to Katainen, the fund should be able to mobilize about five billion euros a year.

Known as the European Defense Action Plan, the project also proposes the lifting of rules preventing the EU’s common budget and its development bank from investing in military research.

Members of Poland’s special commando unit Lubliniec look on during the ‘Noble Sword-14’ NATO international tactical exercise at the land forces training center in Oleszno, Poland, on September 9, 2014. (Photo by Reuters)

“If Europe does not take care of its own security, nobody else will do it for us,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement as the plans were announced.

The EU “must invest in the common development of technologies and equipment of strategic importance — from land, air, sea and space capabilities to cyber security,” if it wants to stand on its own feet, he added. 

According to the European Commission, the EU governments have cut their defense research spending over the past years, failing to reinforce military cooperation, which is costing the bloc 25-100 billion euros ($27-106 billion) annually.

This comes as earlier this month, the EU agreed a defense plan that could allow the 28-member bloc to send forces abroad to act for its own security.

EU leaders need to sign off on the plan in December and financial aspects are set to be worked out by officials next year.  

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