Implement common European defence without delay
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has been explaining the reasons for and advantages of a common European defence in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Only then would Russia recognise the European commitment to the independence of countries such as Ukraine, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
GIS has pointed out, over a number of years, the importance of a common European defence to preserve peace and freedom on the continent. Complacency has meant European politicians have so far avoided this issue.
Europe remains totally dependent on the US for defence at present. We said on June 4, 2014, in ‘Europe's defence spending is inefficient', that defence spending by European countries amounts to some 40 per cent of what America spends but that the combined capability and capacity of European countries is way below 40 per cent of the US. GIS reiterated its argument for an efficient common European defence.
Mr Juncker has also highlighted the inefficiency of Europe’s defence spending and joined the GIS mantra that an efficient European defence would be effective in Europe's negotiations with Russia. This would create a level playing field and help preserve peace in central and eastern Europe.
An efficient European defence would also enhance Europe's political position and global credibility, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.
A strong defence should not be confused with aggression. It is a tool to preserve independence, peace and freedom.
It is unfortunate - and disappointing - that the European Commission did not take up this issue some years ago. It took the Ukraine crisis and its terrible toll to create a wake-up. Ukraine’s crisis could have been avoided with a stronger European commitment to defence and a prudent strategic foreign policy.
The European defence issue has taken too long to get on the Commission's agenda even during the crisis. Now that Mr Juncker has raised it, we hope the necessity for a common and efficient defence will be followed through and implemented without delay.