Posted on May 12, 2020
European Union plans for a multi-billion euro defence fund have been thrown into doubt by the economic shock of the coronavirus, officials and diplomats say, potentially threatening three years of unprecedented military cooperation, Reuters reports.
With member states' governments focused on a trillion-euro plan to offset the economic chaos wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, the billions for defence in the 2021-2027 budget are at risk.
Deep cuts would undermine EU ambitions to reduce the continent's long-standing military dependency on the United States, and to achieve at least some semblance of harmonisation and inter-operability of military systems in Europe. The effect on the European defence industry will be devastating.
“We can expect an additional strain on resources, it is already looming,” said Jiri Sedivy, new chief executive of the European Defence Agency, which helps EU governments develop military capabilities. He took up his post this month.
“It’s especially disappointing considering that defence budgets only recently recovered from the financial shock of ten years ago,” he told Reuters.
With the European Commission expected to present revised budget proposals next week, defence ministers held a video conference on Tuesday with the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who made the case for defence after COVID19.
Acknowledging that the coronavirus “is a new factor, demanding resources,” Borrell told a news conference: “The coronavirus has brought a new threat, and it requires a stronger Europe in the world.”
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