The conflict in Ukraine has revealed the negative effect of decades of low defense spending by bloc members, a European Commission draft paper reportedly reveals
The European Union has listed shortcomings found in its defenses that have been exposed due to the conflict in Ukraine, the media reported on Friday after looking through a draft paper by the European Commission.
According to the document, which was seen by the Bloomberg news agency and Spanish newspaper El Pais, the main gaps included air and missile defense systems; land, air, and maritime combat capabilities such as submarines and tanks; as well satellite-based secure connectivity and cyber defense.
Member states also experienced shortages of ammunition and missiles due to their shipments to Ukrainian government forces amid a conflict with Russia.
The draft paper pointed out that the events in Ukraine have significantly deteriorated the security landscape in the EU and revealed the negative effects of decades of low defense spending by the bloc’s members.
The European Commission is proposing a new investment instrument, called Defend-EU, to centralize defense spending in the EU and make it more effective. It should allow the 27-member union to “to map, coordinate and incentivize joint development, procurement and ownership across the full life cycle of defense equipment.” The document insists that the joint purchase of weapons should become a norm rather than an exception in the EU.
Brussels is also looking to lift the European Investment Bank’s current exclusions on defense projects and eventually establish a new joint procurement entity for the bloc.
Another suggestion is to introduce a one-off EU solidarity reimbursement scheme, which will see other members help countries that sent the most weapons to Ukraine to replenish their stocks.
“EU initiatives to foster defense cooperation also help reinforce a fairer transatlantic burden-sharing and a more effective European contribution within NATO,” the document read.
The Commission estimated that EU nations are going to increase their defense spending, which stood at around 200 billion euros in 2021, by another 60 billion euros this year due to the conflict in Ukraine.
However, it acknowledged in the draft that the EU didn’t have much of a margin left to boost its defenses within its current budget that had been approved in 2020. The authors of the paper suggested a more thorough discussion of the events in Ukraine within the EU with the aim of reviewing the needs of the European Defense Fund.
The draft document could be presented to EU ministers as early as next week, the media reported.