European Commission outlines upcoming defence strategy proposal

European Commission outlines upcoming defence strategy proposal
European Commission outlines upcoming defence strategy proposal

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends the Munich Security Conference, in Munich, Germany February 16, 2024. ― Reuters pic

MUNICH, Feb 17 ― The European Commission will present a defence industrial strategy proposal in three weeks, commission president Ursula von der Leyen said today, and will also open a defence innovation office in Ukraine.

“Europe has to step up its industrial base ... I’m a convinced transatlantic and at the same time we have to build a strong Europe and that goes hand in hand,” von der Leyen told a panel at the Munich Security Conference.

She said the proposal aimed to increase defence spending, “spend better” with joint procurement and agreements to provide predictability to industry and better interoperability between Europe’s armed forces, and focus spending in Europe to keep “good jobs” for taxpayers footing the bill.

She added that Ukraine must be integrated into Europe’s defence programmes as Russia was “outmassing Ukraine” with soldiers and by “throwing quick and dirty weapons produced in North Korea and Iran”.

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On the financial aid side, von der Leyen said it was in the US interest to pass a bill ― currently stalled in Congress ― to provide more aid to Ukraine as the measure was symbolic of democracies standing up to autocrats.

“It is not only about Russia’s war in Ukraine and Putin’s attempts to destabilise democracies but all the other autocratic adversaries that we are watching very closely ..., whether the democracies stand united, are determined, show resolve.”

She also said that if re-elected as head of the European Union executive, she would create the new post of defence commissioner.

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In February, the EU agreed to provide a fresh aid package to Ukraine of €50 billion euros (RM239 billion) over the next four years on top of the 88 billion euros already spent since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“It is a question of will democracies globally prevail?” von der Leyen said. ― Reuters

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