Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has ushered in a new era of conflict and violence on Europe’s borders. In the last three months, we have become aware of the reality of war every day, with 44 million inhabitants being hit in one country: a sovereign nation and a liberal democracy that, let us remember, the aspiration to join the European Union. Our role as business leaders, politicians or European citizens and our priority is to support the people of Ukraine as they go through this ordeal.
The attack sparked a sudden geopolitical upheaval and created a collective awareness in Europe. Europeans are much more united than ever. Many people today understand how fragile peace and stability must be and must be maintained. At the same time, we see again that government, business and civil society must work together to address the global crisis. This has been demonstrated by the COVID-19 epidemic, the climate emergency and the economic crisis of 2007-2008. I hope the era of unilateralism is over forever.
European defense, encouraging signs
Our armed forces play an essential role in maintaining security and stability on which we all depend. But they are suffering from inadequate budgets and a lack of coordination, which calls into question their ability to intervene in a high-intensity conflict in Ukraine. Over the past few weeks, European leaders have worked swiftly to remedy this situation. By doing so, they will have the opportunity to shape the European defense landscape over the next few decades.
The symptoms are encouraging. In March, the European Council adopted the EU’s first strategic compass on defense after analyzing future risks. As a result, the proposals aim to give European powers in particular new capabilities, such as a rapidly deploying force, increase its funding, improve cyber security, and strengthen partnerships with key allies such as NATO and the United Kingdom. All of these measures will allow the EU to be better prepared to respond to current and future threats on its borders.
Earlier this month, European leaders at their summit in Versailles asked the commission to propose urgent measures to strengthen the European defense industry base. The Commission recommends concrete and innovative measures to encourage the general acquisition and financing of military equipment in Europe, a method that has long been hampered by legal or budget formalities. These proposals will be considered and hopefully adopted at the next meeting of the EU Council, scheduled for May 30-31.
Strategic and deep partnership
Why is European defense cooperation essential? Europe is fortunate to have an internationally competitive defense industry. This industry will directly contribute to the achievement of European ambitions in defense and defense by enabling the development of systems of tomorrow. It is clear that we have the necessary skills and technical capabilities. But our progress will depend In the end Our ability to establish strategic and deep partnerships, such as replicating our past successes
To understand the importance of cooperation, one only needs to look at the new generation of defense systems. The Future Air Combat System (SCAF), a partnership between France, Germany and Spain, whose success must be based on a spirit of genuine cooperation, will include technologies such as new warplanes, drones, satellites, artificial intelligence and the cloud, and more. It is a fully integrated defense system that could not have been imagined twenty years ago.
Such a project cannot be developed by a single European country. To implement this we need to combine our skills and financial resources. In Europe, we are stronger together than when we are hiding behind national borders and interests. The Commission’s recent proposals are likely to strengthen this cooperation.
However, this is not just a long-term view. The European defense industry already produces equipment that contributes to European strategic autonomy. Tactical and tactical transport aircraft, built across Europe, could play a decisive role in creating a European rapid deployment force. European industries also have expertise in developing drone systems that could strengthen EU border surveillance. The European Union now has the opportunity to realize this potential and pave the way for joint purchasing and investment.
Finally, the European defense industry needs funding. Some claim that defense companies will be excluded from financial and insurance services because the nature of their activities makes them socially irresponsible companies. Recent events have proved otherwise. European democracy must be defended by armed forces. And our very lives are in real danger. The financial sector needs to be encouraged to invest in defense and security.
Send a strong message
Europe responds to Ukraine’s aggression with a surprisingly united attitude: it must now be extended to European defense policy. Today in Ukraine, and tomorrow is more of a turning point for all of us. Peace and stability are the foundation of democracy in Europe, the rule of law, prosperity and human progress.
By embracing the strategic compass and approving the Commission’s new proposals, Europe can strengthen its defense capabilities in times of uncertainty – and thus send a strong message to all who oppose it about our common commitment to uphold our values.