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A common EU army and single security budget are not on the cards, despite member states’ recent moves towards closer defence cooperation.
But given the multitude of threats facing the bloc, experts at a recent Friends of Europe Café Crossfire and Policymakers’ Dinner debate called for a paradigm shift in thinking and ways of working in response to modern peace, security and defence matters, starting with closer links between military spending and security-related policies such as diplomacy, aid and trade.
At the 6 December events – ‘Modern security is more than military spending’ - participants hailed recent moves to pool EU military forces and equipment in “permanent structured cooperation” (PESCO), a move made possible by the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. But they insisted that collective defence will continue to be handled by NATO, despite mixed messages from the US on the usefulness of the transatlantic alliance.
While US President Donald Trump has focused his ire on NATO “free riders”, and called for a boost in defence spending, a Friends of Europe policy brief, ‘Cooperative security requires a budget’, argues for a broader, more than money approach to the problem.
The brief calls on governments, NATO and the EU to do a “security spending” audit across all policies, beyond defence, to root out where spending is worthwhile and where it can be cut. However, ring-fencing development aid and coming up with a joint EU “military doctrine” need to come first, participants agreed, to ensure money is not being diverted to the wrong places.