The Return of ‘Hard Power’: EU Steps Up Efforts to Build a Defense Union

Written by | Thursday, June 8th, 2017

The European Union has unveiled its proposal for a new European defense union. Following the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe, yesterday’s (7 June) reflection paper outlined different plans on how to address the increasing security and defense threats facing the old continent and how to address Europe’s own military capabilities by 2025. The discussion will make an important contribution to deciding on how the EU will strengthen its protection and security. The proposed European Defense Fund is poised to support more efficient spending by member states on joint defense capabilities.

Since the UK’s Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as the US President, Brussels has stepped up its efforts to tackle the anti-EU sentiments and move forward with the defense union. “EU progress on this front in recent months has focused on establishing an EU defense fund and aiming to centralize procurement strategy. A possible future defense union would go further – it could necessitate a joint, centralized defense industrial strategy, sharing of member state ‘strategic’ defense assets, and perhaps even a level of autonomy from NATO,” Aarti Shankar, political analyst at Open Europe, commented.

Analysts generally believe that the EU’s decision to move forward with its plans of the defense union will not affect funding for NATO. Donald Trump said during a leaders’ summit at the end of May that 23 out of 28 EU members were being unfair towards US taxpayers. “Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all NATO countries combined. If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense,” he said.

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