New European Parliament report warns against defence spending cuts

by Brooks Tigner

Insisting that no EU country alone can protect itself against the threats facing Europe today, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) warn that national capitals must not reduce their defence spending in the coming years, “especially their financial involvement in European [defence] co-operative projects”.

The European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee on 22 September adopted a report warning against defence spending cuts. (Getty Images)

The European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee on 22 September adopted a report warning against defence spending cuts. (Getty Images)

It is imperative to shift from a strictly national focus on defence to a stronger European one via the EU’s framework for Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), they argue in a new draft report approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“We need to clearly acknowledge that we need stronger co-operation in security and defence in Europe”, said Radosław Sikorski, the MEP and former Polish defence minister who authored the report, which passed committee by 49 votes in favour and 12 against on 22 September.

“Streamlining defence co-operation is even more important today as national defence budgets will suffer reductions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This will weaken the member states’ preparedness even more for dealing with similar crises in the future,” he said after the vote.

His report asserts it is “crucial” that PESCO joint projects maximise the effectiveness of their spending and avoid overlap with national defence projects. Forty-seven PESCO projects have been launched since December 2017, and a first strategic review of their results is due in November. A majority of the projects focus on soft capabilities, including cyber training, feasibility studies, and support services such as medical evacuation, with no equipment or hard kit having emerged from any of them so far.

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Insisting that no EU country alone can protect itself against the threats facing Europe today, membe...

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