Thursday, June 20, 2024

Deloitte: Poland enters the phase of economic expansion

The divergence of economic moods in Poland...

Two Years On: War in Ukraine and Its Global Impact

On February 24, 2022, a full-scale Russian...

War in Ukraine reignites debate on European defense force

SECURITYWar in Ukraine reignites debate on European defense force

A common European army does not currently exist, and in practice, defense is the sole responsibility of EU member states. However, the outbreak of war in Ukraine, just beyond the eastern border, has reignited the European discussion about the need for its own military capabilities. As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz recently pointed out, Europe should have its own rapid reaction forces and appoint a defense commissioner, because it currently faces the greatest challenges since the end of World War II. “We must acquire our own deterrent power and increase defense spending,” emphasizes MEP Janusz Lewandowski.

According to Eurobarometer research published in 2022, a decisive majority of EU citizens (81%) support a common defense and security policy – in every EU country, this support is at least two-thirds of citizens. About 93% of EU residents agree that countries should act together to defend the Community’s territory, and 85% believe that defense cooperation at the EU level should be strengthened.

“I am not pleased that a peaceful project like the European Union must unfortunately gain a military dimension, due to Putin and the uncertainty about the outcome of elections in the United States. We must acquire our own deterrent force, meaning summing up Europe’s military potentials,” Janusz Lewandowski, MEP and former EU Commissioner for Budget and Financial Programming (2010–2014), stated in an interview with Newseria Biznes.

EU security and defense policy is based on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), as well as several complementary strategies and tools (including diplomacy). These issues are regulated by the Treaty of Lisbon, which clearly states that national defense policy is paramount (including NATO membership or neutrality). In practice, defense is therefore the sole responsibility of European states, and a common European army does not exist. However, in recent years, the EU has done much to strengthen cooperation in this area (e.g., establishing the European Defense Fund, PESCO, and enhancing cooperation with NATO), and the outbreak of war in Ukraine, just beyond the EU’s eastern border, has rekindled the European discussion about the need for its own military capabilities.

At this week’s Impact’24 conference in Poznań, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz emphasized that Europe should establish a special council for security and defense industry and appoint a defense commissioner with appropriate competencies and a €100 billion budget for the arms industry. He also assessed that rapid reaction forces should be created and air and missile defense shared, as Europe currently faces the greatest challenges since the end of World War II.

“We must stand on our own militarily as well. So far, we have been helpless participants, witnesses to, for example, the genocide in Yugoslavia, and only American planes freed Sarajevo from this drama. This must not happen again; we must build our own deterrent forces. Our combined economic potentials are ten times Russia’s GDP, and this must also translate into military spending,” says the MEP. “We recently learned that hard power must be met with hard power. All the institutions created after the war to protect the integrity of Europe’s borders failed when genocide happened in Yugoslavia, when Putin attacked Georgia, when little green men occupied part of Ukraine’s territory, and when open war began beyond our eastern border. This is a lesson we must learn from. Only hard deterrent power is the answer to Russia’s imperial might.”

The war between Russia and Ukraine has underscored the need for the EU to strengthen its defense strategy, increase spending in this area, and accelerate weapons production. According to data from the European Defense Agency, in 2021, European defense spending reached €214 billion, a 6% increase year-on-year, marking the seventh consecutive year of spending growth. Meanwhile, spending on defense equipment and research and development increased by 16% year-on-year to €52 billion.

Last year, in response to the war in Ukraine, the EU also adopted regulations establishing an instrument to strengthen the European defense industry through joint procurement (EDIRPA) and regulations to support ammunition production (ASAP). Under this instrument, the European Parliament approved €500 million in funding last year to support the EU industry in increasing the production of ammunition and missiles. This is intended to help the EU increase supplies to Ukraine and allow EU countries to replenish their stocks.

EU member states and NATO countries are increasing defense spending on their own. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has already announced that in 2024, 18 countries will spend at least 2% of their GDP on this goal, the percentage required under the Pact. After the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Germany, for the first time in decades, presented plans for defense spending exceeding 2% of its gross domestic product. Meanwhile, Poland is already spending about 4% of its GDP on defense, twice the level required of NATO member states.

“Poland is a border country, it currently has a war next door, and it must participate in the defense of the EU’s external borders, it must arm itself. But not in a chaotic way, but in a way that truly responds to the challenges of modern warfare. We are already in the midst of a hybrid war, so it is very important not only the level and efficiency of the Polish army but also cybersecurity,” emphasizes the MEP and former EU Commissioner.

He points out that in the context of security and defense challenges, the EU cannot forget other challenges, including those related to the competitiveness and innovation of the European economy and the ongoing energy transition.

“Of course, there are other challenges, because at the moment we are not winning the competition with China and the United States in terms of an innovative economy,” admits Janusz Lewandowski. “We also cannot escape responsibility for the future of our planet. Europe’s efforts to be a green continent make sense only if the largest emitters, namely China, India, and the United States, follow our lead. It seems that there is a chance for this, but it is also important to implement the Green Deal, the goals of climate neutrality in a way that is socially acceptable and protected where the most important challenges lie. Poland faces such challenges because it is a country built on coal.”

Check out our other content
Related Articles
The Latest Articles