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 EU plans to boost defense expenditure, - Financial Times

Brussels is to unveil plans to “turbo boost” spending on cyber security, war ships and drone technology as part of a multibillion-euro European Defense Fund, which comes as U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump presses NATO allies to significantly increase military spending.

As reported by Censor.NET citing the Financial Times, the proposals from the European Commission, to be unveiled on Wednesday, follow a decision by member states to deepen defense co-ordination in an effort to fortify Europe's anti-terror defenses and reinforce external borders.

The plans include an increase in cross-border defense procurement and greater emphasis on the standardization of equipment, as well as the use of EU space programs for security and defense purposes. At the moment about 80 per cent of defense procurement is run on a national basis, the commission estimates.

Mr Trump's election win has prompted deep anxiety within NATO. The president-elect warned during his campaign that Washington might not defend its allies under Russian attack, although he later "underlined NATO's enduring importance" in a post-election call with Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the Alliance.

Read more: UK, Polish PMs: Sanctions against Russia must be maintained until Minsk deal implemented, Ukraine must be granted support

But he has consistently called for European members of NATO to increase defense expenditure to meet the alliance's target to spend 2 percent of economic output on defense. Twenty-two of the 28 EU member states are in NATO, although only the U.K., Estonia, Poland and Greece meet the threshold.

The new plan from the EU executive, to be put forward by Jyrki Katainen, commission vice-president, aims to increase Europe's land, air, sea and space capabilities, as well as investment in cyber security and intelligence gathering.

It comes amid heightened concern in Europe about the threat of international terrorism and the increase in military activity by Russia, particularly after its seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and support for separatist factions in the east of that country.

Read more: NATO takes hybrid war threat posed by Russia seriously, Stoltenberg says

Although Europe has the second-largest military expenditure in the world, the commission paper will argue that such spending is inefficient because of duplication, the lack of interoperability with equipment and technological gaps. The commission estimates that lack of co-ordination costs 25-100 billion euros a year given the absence of competition and economies of scale for industry and production.

The U.S. invests more than twice as much as EU member states' total defense spend, while China has increased its defense budget 150 percent in the past decade.

The plan will say that Europe's 100 billion euros defense industry could fall behind the next-generation technology of global rivals without a sustained investment by member states in defense capability. Failure to boost investment would compromise the bloc's efforts to develop the capacity to act autonomously when necessary.

The plan also aims to promote investment in suppliers to the defense industry, in particular small and medium-sized companies.Источник: https://en.censor.net.ua/n417114