The European Union is set to unveil a multi-million-euro defense fund to buy military equipment and on inter-European defense capabilities at a time when US President has called for increased contributions from European countries for NATO.
The push for a new phase of cooperation on military and security including on procurement of weapons and technologies will make European countries free from relying on US spending in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The EU spending on defense and security which was said to complement and not compete with NATO during the NATO Warsaw summit in December 2016 may not be the case now.
“More than ever, Europeans need to take greater responsibility for their own security,” EU staff will say, as they also unveil a legislative proposal for the establishment of a defense fund that will streamline the military procurement process across the continent, Bloomberg quoted a draft of a “reflection paper” on the future of the bloc’s defense which will be unveiled on Wednesday.
There is a strong case for greater cooperation on security and defence in the EU. The threats that the EU faces do not respect national borders. Their scale is increasing. They are best tackled by working together, the European Commission said in a press release on 24 May, 2017.
A strong European defence requires a strong European defence industry. As Member States begin to increase their defence budgets, the EU can help them to spend these funds more efficiently. The lack of cooperation between Member States in the field of defence and security is estimated to cost annually between €25 billion and €100 billion. 80% of procurement and more than 90% of Research and Technology are run on a national basis Up to 30% of annual defence expenditures could be saved through pooling of procurement, the press release said.
A factsheet by European Commission for a strong case for EU cooperation on security and defense states that, there are 178 different weapon systems in the EU, compared to 30 in the US There are more helicopter producers in Europe than there are governments able to buy them. And despite the EU27 spending half as much as the United States on defence, we are not even half as efficient. This all points to big duplications in European defence spending.
US President Donald Trump in a speech in Brussels last month had chided NATO member countries directly for not meeting their share of financial commitments towards the organization. He further raised doubts over US commitment to the alliance's mutual defense pledge.
"Members of the alliance must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations," Trump said.
"Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States," he said.
Disagreements between the US and the EU over military spending, climate change and trade have compelled the European nations to call for stronger defense cooperation.