16 Feb, 2022

Vestager and Breton present defence package at unstable times for security in Europe

EU Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner Thierry Breton have put forward a set of initiatives to enhance integration and competitiveness of the European defence market. These proposals will contribute to the upcoming EU Strategic Compass on Security and Defence which is expected to be adopted by the Council in March 2022. The initiatives come at a time where the security situation in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood is getting worse with Russia threatening Ukraine with unprovoked military actions.

The European Commission’s initiatives include new areas to strengthen the common European approach to the defence market:

  • Investments in defence research and capabilities and joint procurement, including VAT exception for EU projects. By the end of 2022, the European Defence Fund (EDF) will have invested €1.9 billion in defence research and capability development projects
  • Focus on common export approach by streamlining and gradually converging Member States’ arms export control, especially for those jointly developed EU defence capabilities
  • Synergies between civilian and defence research, including the dual-use research and innovation at EU level. The EU Defence Innovation Scheme is also envisaged as well as the risk assessment in the context of the security and defence area within the EU industrial and trade instruments
  • Additional Space Surveillance and Tracking services will be implemented to protect the EU space assets
  • The Cyber Resilience Act as well as harmonised standards regarding cybersecurity and privacy will be proposed for the EU to be prepared for large-scale cyber incidents

The European Commission’s initiatives aim to reduce the EU’s dependency in the security and defence areas and protect it from the new threats.

“In the face of the new geopolitics, we need a stronger Europe in defence. Threats to the EU’s security are no longer only of military nature, but are increasingly becoming hybrid, shifting towards cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns endangering the heart of our democracies. We need to focus on reducing strategic dependencies, supporting innovation of the defence ecosystem, encouraging joint procurement of defence capabilities,” outlined Breton.

The European Council will discuss the initiatives during the informal summit in France on 10-11 March.

The Russian threat to Ukraine is a call for action for the European Union. As liberals, we strongly believe that in order for the EU to become a global leader, it should take a further step towards the establishment of robust EU defence capabilities through the adoption of a European Defence Union. In addition, the time is right for the EU to implement the Qualified Majority Voting within the EU foreign, and security policies, which would enable the EU to act quickly and decisively as a real decision maker and agenda setter on the international scene.

Photo credit: © European Union, 2022

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