Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66), welcomes the proposals from the European Commission to make defence cooperation between European member states a priority. Germany and France have already presented a plan on this as well. Schaake: "It is good to see that security and defence are again high on the agenda. If Europe wants to play a role on the world stage, strong and effective military forces are crucial. Because of years of financial constraints, none of the member states are able to carry out long missions on their own. There have been plans to strengthen defence cooperation before, but until now, these have had little effect. The proposals that are now on the table are welcome, but it is key that they are actually put into action and that will require clear choices from the Member States."
Joint procurement and maintenance
Budget cuts have undermined the strength and credibility of European defence. A new approach is needed, since budgets will remain tight for the coming years. Schaake: "Member states do not have the capacity to maintain the full spectrum of military capabilities. Instead, they need to make clear choices about which capabilities they want to maintain and invest properly into those. These choices need to be coordinated amongst member states to make sure that Europe as a whole can still react to the broad variety of threats. Joint procurement and maintenance of materiel would save funds as well. Now, every member state has different aeroplane, tank and helicopter types, which is unnecessary and inefficient. Stronger European integration would not be a substitute for NATO, it should strengthen Europe's role within NATO."
European digital infrastructure is attacked every day by cyber-attacks from abroad. Schaake: "Because of their trans-national nature, digital threats can only be countered by cooperation amongst Member States. A safe digital environment in Europe and the free and open internet must be strengthened and protected. This is not only a task for military organisations, but also calls for close linkage with civil society and the business sector. We also need to make sure that dangerous technologies do not fall into the hands of states or other actors who can use it against the EU or for human rights violations. For that, strong export control regulation are crucial."