Neither Barack Obama nor even Donald Trump had succeeded in doing so, but Vladimir Putin involuntarily succeeded: by unleashing a war on their borders on February 24, the Russian president brutally incited European leaders to reinvest in defence. “Europe is in danger. War is upon us. NATO has created a false sense of comfort”, explained, Wednesday, May 18, the High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Affairs, Josep Borrell. He presented, with the commissioner for the internal market and the defense industry, Thierry Breton, a vast project for what he calls “not a rearmament, but the end of silent disarmament”. This is what the Heads of State and Government meeting at Versailles had asked for in March.
The plan, based on a report by the European Defense Agency (EDA), aims to make up for lost time, replenish stocks, urgently remedy certain shortcomings, support industry and ensure , in the medium term, the rearmament of the Union. The Commission is also trying to relaunch an idea that is anything but new: cooperation between Member States for the development and acquisition of armaments, in order to avoid unnecessary expenditure and dispersion. In fact, while the United States has only one model of tank, Europe has twelve, ironically Mr. Borrell.
The subject is vast: at present, only 11% of the investments of the Twenty-Seven are made jointly, very far from the objective – prudent – which had been formulated within the framework of the policy of “permanent structured cooperation”. for defence, i.e. 35%.
Establish strategic priorities
Between 1999 and 2021, European defense spending increased by 20%, by 66% in the United States, by 292% in Russia and by 592% in China. The overall budget of European states is however close to that of Beijing and is four times higher than that of Moscow. But the question of the effectiveness of their armies is raised and, in total, some 1,300 billion euros of investment, including 270 billion for capabilities, have not been made since the beginning of the century. They would have been if the 21 European member states of NATO had reached the objective of 2% of the domestic product devoted to defence. A dozen of them are still a long way off. France, on the other hand, has achieved this goal, as have Greece, Poland, the Baltic States and Portugal, among others.
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