Europe plans a military spending spree

There is growing pressure for greater European security collaboration

Europe plans a military spending spree

Gregorio Borgia AP/Press Association Images

Brussels is set to unveil new EU security spending plans tomorrow, this will include funds to invest in drone technology, cyber security, and war ships.

Greater military co-operation between EU states received a set back as talks to establish a new centralised command and control headquarters stalled.

Member states have already committed to a new planning organisation to oversee training missions and its crisis-response military units will be used more frequently.

The EU's provisions include a focus on standardising equipment across national military forces.

Paratroopers take part in an exercise of the U.S. Army Global Response Force in Hohenfels, Germany / PA

At current the European Commission estimates that 80% of defence planning such as the purchasing of equipment is decided by national governments without collaboration.

The Financial Times reports that the Commission believes that a lack of co-ordination is costing member states between €25bn and €100bn every year, through a loss of economies of scale and other missed savings.

Jyrki Katainen, a vice-president of the European Commission has previously outlined a plan for the EU to issue 'Defence Bonds' to raise funds to buy new EU-owned military equipment. These plans come as Trump prepares to take his seat in the oval office.

On the campaign trail he threatened to not intervene if NATO countries are attacked by Russia - he called on European countries to meet the NATO target of dedicating 2% of public spending to security.

At the moment only the UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia meet this goal - Mr Trump's argument is that if counties fail to hit this target then the US should not help them if conflicts develop.

PA

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, has expressed his confidence that under Trump the US's role in the alliance will not change.

Ireland cannot be forced into greater military co-operation by the EU - but there are provisions for member states to collaborate of defence without the support of other nations - meaning that France and Germany could move forward with allies to combine military resources - while those who object to the move do not take part.

Politicians from Italy and Hungary have indicated their support for greater military co-operation.

For some politicians, the overall goal is to have a European military force which is strong enough to take meaningful action without requiring the support of the US.

Speaking to the International Business Times, EU Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt called on European countries to boost military spending.

"If [Trump] goes in the direction of more protectionism, we should speed up our trade negotiations with Mexico, Japan and all the other countries that we are negotiating with at the moment.

"The same with defence. Let's create a European defence union, let's take on our responsibilities... Let's become an empire, an empire of the good and not of the bad," the former Belgian PM said.

Calls for unity are likely to persist as the UK withdraws from the EU, the future of US foreign policy remains unclear under Donald Trump, and the threat of terror attacks looms over the continent.