Europe finds itself in new dilemma

Apart from losses in the battlefield and public fatigue, leaders are unsettled by prospect of a Trump return to the White House

By Chen Weihua in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-24 07:17
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Polish farmers drive their tractors in protest in Poznan on Feb 9. They were angry at EU agrarian policy and cheap Ukraine produce imports which, they say, are undercutting
their livelihoods. Czarek Sokolowski / AP

"Europe has to step up its industrial base," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the MSC on Feb 17.

She said the commission will present a defense industrial strategy proposal in three weeks and will also open a defense innovation office in Ukraine.

Von der Leyen said the proposal is to increase defense spending and "spend better" with joint procurement and agreements to provide predictability to industry and better interoperability among armed forces in the 27 member states.

She also vowed to create a European Commissioner for Defense position if she wins a second term at the commission. She added that Ukraine must be integrated into Europe's defense programs.

National security

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated at the MSC that Berlin will invest 2 percent of its GDP in defense now into the 2030s and beyond.

He said regardless of how the Russia-Ukraine conflict ends, and regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election, one thing is crystal clear. "We Europeans must do much more for our own security — now and in the future," he said.

"Our readiness to do so is considerable."

But German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also minister of economic affairs, said the EU has 27 defense industries, not one defense industry.

He cited national pride as one obstacle for the integration of the industries.

"Some countries are very proud of their defense industry and they don't want Europe to have a say in it," he said.

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