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Josep Borrell says EU must increase military investment

Written by The Frontier Post

BRUSSELS (TASS): The EU needs to expand its military investment to replenish stocks of weapons transferred to Ukraine in the short term. This was stated on Wednesday by the head of the EU foreign service, Josep Borrell, presenting the recommendations of the European Commission (EC) on eliminating the shortcomings of European defense. According to the European Commission, EU countries intend to spend an additional €200 billion on weapons in the coming years.
“In the short term, the EU should expand its military investment to make up for the stockpiles of weapons transferred to Ukraine, we transferred a lot of military capabilities and they should be replaced,” he said. “We do not want to go into an arms race and do not seek to push the world into a third world war. But we must ensure joint purchases of weapons to compensate for the shortcomings of European defense and the massive disarmament of the EU countries in previous years,” Borrell stressed. He noted that in the period from 1999 to 2014, the EU countries carried out “massive and unsynchronized disarmament.”
According to him, the conflict in Ukraine confirmed the importance of restoring the defense capabilities of the EU countries. “This is the first conflict of such intensity in Europe since World War II. Thousands of soldiers have already died in it, hundreds of thousands of fighters and hundreds of tanks are involved on both sides. This requires us to act,” Borrell said.
In a document published by the European Commission, the priority tasks for the EU to ensure its defense capability will be “getting rid of Soviet weapons, replenishing stocks of weapons and ammunition, and significantly strengthening anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems.”
In the future, this plan involves the purchase of tanks, artillery, armored vehicles, aircraft, helicopters and drones, cyber defense systems. In the long term, this plan includes the joint development of new promising European types of weapons of a new generation, primarily tanks and aircraft.
The European Commission also proposes to completely switch to joint purchases of weapons and military equipment in order to avoid duplication and fragmentation both in the armies of the EU countries and in the European defense industry. All of these steps are presented as complementary and enhancing NATO’s defense capabilities.
Defense spending
As Deputy Head of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager said in turn, in the period from 1999 to 2021, “EU countries increased their defense spending by 20%, while the United States increased by 66% over the same period, Russia – by 292%.” Vestager did not specify that, according to NATO estimates, US defense spending in 2021 was $778 billion, the total military spending of EU countries was about $190 billion, and Russia’s military budget was $61 billion.
As European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in turn at a press conference in Brussels, the EU countries have already announced a total increase in their defense spending by 200 billion euros over the coming years.
“The return of hostilities to Europe has highlighted the consequences of a decades-long lack of defense funds. We have lost a decade of defense investment due to all these cuts. However, Member States are now reversing this trend. They have annou-nced an additional €200 billion for defense in over the next few years,” she said.
Joint Procurement
In order to most effectively spend the funds allocated for defense, the EU countries should move to joint purchases of military equipment and weapons, continued von der Leyen.
“We are asking for joint procurement because it is better for the armed forces operationally, financially and industrially. We will immediately establish a task force with Member States to coordinate urgent replenishment and procurement needs,” she said.
According to von der Leyen, the EC will propose a regulation in autumn that will completely exempt joint purchases from VAT. “It will strengthen our independence and resilience. And at the same time it will strengthen NATO,” she added.
Deputy head of the EC Vestager, in turn, stressed that joint purchases of weapons in the EU “should be carried out according to the same principle as the EU purchased vaccines.”
According to Borrell, the fragmentation of the armed forces of the EU states and the European defense ind-ustry is the biggest proble-m. “The US has 1 type of main battle tank. The EU h-as 12, and this fragmentati-on is everywhere,” he said.
The European Commission also proposed to allow the EU countries in the context of military conflicts, including the current conflict in Ukraine, to acquire the right to carry out exclusively military purchases without publishing a tender, on the basis of closed contracts with suppliers.

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