EU leaders' budget deal savages union's defence and military support initiatives

by Brooks Tigner

After four grueling days of talks in Brussels to revive Europe’s ailing economy, EU leaders agreed on 21 July to steep cuts to the future European Defence Fund (EDF) and other related spending in the EU’s next multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on 17-21 July approved much smaller budgets for the EDF and military mobility budget than originally planned. (Getty Images)

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on 17-21 July approved much smaller budgets for the EDF and military mobility budget than originally planned. (Getty Images)

The leaders met to negotiate the details of both the MFF and a massive new post-pandemic recovery plan of grants and loans totaling EUR750 billion (USD862.5 billion).

While their proposed EDF budget of EUR7 billion is a bit higher than the EUR6 billion they put forward in December 2019 as a first compromise with the European Commission, it is 54% lower than the latter’s originally proposed budget of EUR13 billion for the defence fund.

The leaders also stuck firmly to their desired budget of only EUR1.5 billion for military mobility, far below the Commission’s proposed EUR6.5 billion. This spending is supposed to enable Europe’s armies to deploy more quickly across EU territory, thus indirectly supporting NATO’s defence and deterrence postures.

Ignoring any reference to the magnitude of their cuts, the leaders simply declared in their Council conclusions that the two new funding levels will “contribute to the European Union's strategic autonomy and the ability to work with strategic partners and support projects consistent with defence capability priorities commonly agreed by the member states”.

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After four grueling days of talks in Brussels to revive Europe’s ailing economy, EU leaders agreed o...

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