Europe aspires to gain military leadership in a troubled world. The High Representative for European Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini has proposed this Tuesday to create a fund for defense missions in third countries.
The head of European diplomacy wanted to take advantage of the first formal meeting of the countries that participate in the military coordination of the EU to raise the initiative. It is a new financial instrument, outside the Community budget, intended for security operations.
The European Union was born as a peace project and lacks fast roads to develop defensive instruments. But the consolidation of the Defense Union at the end of 2017, with 25 of the 28 Member States involved, opens the way to strengthen that flank.
Beyond ratifying the 17 concrete cooperation projects that these countries will outline throughout the year, Mogherini transferred to the Ministers of Defense a proposal linked to the pocketbook. Under the candid name of the European Peace Instrument, the high representative trusts to collect financial contributions in a stable manner – presumably from the Member States to support defense and external security missions.
Although the details will be specified in the coming months, Mogherini assured the press that the initial reception of the ministers had been favorable. “It would give us the possibility to finance initiatives to build military capabilities, provide assistance to other partners and contribute money to peacekeeping missions,” outlined Mogherini generically.
The EU already has a fund linked to operations in sub-Saharan Africa. But it has many limitations, among them that the initiatives have to be agreed with the African Union. “We want to expand the scope of action and act autonomously,” said the head of the diplomacy.
The ambition of this fund will be measured by its ability to gather contributions. The African initiative that has existed since 2004 has mobilized almost 2,000 million euros. But external conflicts multiply and not only in Africa. That is why Brussels proposes a fund that is foreign to the EU budget, which limits the military action to a far greater extent, in order to expand its activities. This item could also be used for civil and military missions of the EU abroad.
That European hyperactivity in a field that he never considered his own generates resentment in the United States. Washington has demanded ad nauseam that Europe is more involved in its own defense but observes with misgivings projects that can reduce the influence and ultimately market in the field of security.
The US representatives have come to consider protectionism as the greatest coordination of the EU in defense for the damages it may cause. Mogherini categorically rejected that label and hinted at his skepticism about the maximum increase in military spending – in the line of 2% of GDP in 2024 that NATO is flying.
“You can increase spending, but if it’s done in areas that are not productive, I do not think it’s very interesting for the Atlantic Alliance. It’s not about seeing how much we spend that is the decision of the member states, “argued the head of the diplomacy, which distanced itself from the allied discourse.
To smooth the edges and keep alive the cooperation that both blocs have been developing since 2016, the NATO Deputy General Secretary, Rose Gottemoeller, attended a meeting of ministers. Almost all Defense holders intervened to reaffirm that the EU military project is complementary not an alternative – to the ally, according to the sources consulted. But the debate is not settled.