A single EU security budget and common army are not on the cards, despite member states’ recent moves towards closer military cooperation. But security policy could better link defence spending to policing, diplomacy, aid, development and trade, a Friends of Europe event has heard, particularly given the variety of emerging and changing threats facing the bloc.
At the 6 December event – ‘Modern security is more than military spending - Towards a single security budget?’ - participants hailed recent moves to pool EU military forces and equipment in a “permanent structured cooperation” (PESCO), but said it would not lead to a single budget or army.
“We will not have, in the short term, a European army,” said Ana Gomes, a member of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence, and a Friends of Europe Trustee. “We will not have, in the short term, a single budget for defence. We might have cooperative approaches for financing defence. We need that.” And despite US mixed messages on NATO, Nicolas Suran, French Permanent Representative to the European Council’s Political and Security Committee, said the transatlantic alliance would retain its role in guaranteeing collective defence.
A policy brief commissioned by Friends of Europe, ‘Cooperative security requires a budget’, put forward the provocative idea that a single security budget could help governments, NATO and the EU to establish an accounting of security spending – like a comprehensive inventory across all policies, beyond defence – to figure out where security and defence spending might be insufficiently resourced. But Christian Mölling, Deputy Director at the German Council on Foreign Relations, said the issue is not about the money, but about the specific output that is being sought to form a cooperative and common approach to defence and security. Amy Dodd, Director at UK Aid Network, argued for a “firewall” between development and defence budgets to protect aid from being eaten up by military spending.
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