Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) says that European defence integration is absolutely crucial. Now that Trump is withdrawing from the world stage and the crises around Europe remain unsolved, Europeans must join forces. Today, the European Commission will present a proposal with three possible future scenarios for EU defence cooperation.
Schaake: "European member states must commit to the most ambitious scenario as soon as possible. We need more smart cooperation in the EU. For example through sharing maintenance costs, coordinating the procurement of military materiel en breaking open the protectionist defence market. This would increase our strength but also save a lot of money. The aim is not an arms race, but to be able to defend our interests and values when needed."
Schaake wants the operational capability of European troops to be increased, so that the EU can be a credible player on the world stage. Schaake: "There should be more community funds for EU missions, so that financial constraints are not a reason for Member States to block missions. After years of cuts, Member States must also invest in defence, making sure they focus on their area of expertise. Not every Member State needs every capability, specialisation is key."
Ongoing digitisation in our societies means that the digital component of warfare will become ever more important. Russian activities are a good example of this. Schaake: "The internet knows no boundaries. If there is one weak link, this is a risk for all Member States. So Member States must invest in cybersecurity to protect critical infrastructure. We need increased information sharing and cooperation to create a European approach to be able to adequately react to a cyber attack."
The Commission's proposals will now be discussed amongst Member States and with the European Parliament before further concrete steps will be taken