Covid-19 frightens European defense ministers – La Stampa

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Rome. The pandemic scares the main defense ministers in Europe. Four of them – Germany, France, Italy and Spain – jointly wrote a letter to the other 23 colleagues and the European Commission, addressing Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative for the EU’s foreign and security policy, to urge everyone to strengthen the security and defense dimension in Europe. With the ambition to “increase capacity” and “reduce our dependence on critical sectors”.

Covid-19, in fact, with its virulence that is bringing individuals but also States to their knees, risks creating a disruptive effect on “situations of instability and international crises”. A euphemism to indicate the need to pay particular attention to the shaky Third World states. And the four ministers are concerned about this (for Italy, the promoter of the document is Lorenzo Guerini): of the “economic and social effects” that are expected to occur in poor countries that will become very poor, or in areas of instability that may enter in irreversible crises. Ultimately, the fear of the four ministers is that “the repercussions would fall directly on the EU Member States”. For this reason, the four ask Brussels to “continue to support missions and operations in fragile and unstable countries”. Do not withdraw, but on the contrary expand military missions outside European borders.

It may seem like a ritual letter, but it is not so. Meanwhile, after the exit of Great Britain from the EU has been metabolized, Italy is pleased to register a first four-man embryo in defense. It was not obvious, indeed. So far, the Franco-German axis has never left anyone else with decision. The previous government’s policy, however, marked by Matteo Salvini’s anti-European enthusiasm, had led to a serious break with Paris, Berlin and Madrid. On this side, after a year of diplomatic work, and of small and large agreements, especially in the military field, we have moved from exclusion to inclusion. It is no coincidence that Italy has agreed to participate in the next three multinational missions, wanted and led by France, in the Sahel, in the Gulf of Guinea, in the Strait of Hormuz, without forgetting a quote for the “Irini” air mission which will enforce the arms embargo on Libya.

Covid-19 did the rest. Twenty-seven Foreign and Defense Ministers had spoken about it on May 12th. They left with the agreement to push on the accelerator of some projects in the name of the need for “solidarity and cohesion – to be at the words of our minister – in a particularly delicate and crisis moment that hit the old Continent together with the rest of the world”.

European cohesion policies – they write – also pass through the EU’s defense capabilities. If not a common European army, we can start by strengthening some capacities “also through the instruments of permanent enhanced cooperation”, the so-called PESCO. Thanks to enhanced cooperation, missions could be launched with not all Twenty-seven.

Out of jargon, the four ministers ask Borrell to “encourage investment projects among European partners and make military industries more competitive”, both because they represent an important economic lever for their nations, a driving force for the revitalization of the economy , and because, putting together the resources of the EU and the national ones of Germany France Italy and Spain, it is possible to hypothesize projects of very high technology armaments capable of competing with the giants of the sector. The ministers beat cash, in conclusion. Since the success of ultra-technological products, whether they are the sixth generation fighter that will have to outperform the F-35 or the tank of the future, hypersonic missiles, drones or artificial intelligence applied to the art of war, will have to go through adequate investments, the four do not fail to mention the European Defense Fund. A € 13 billion fund that has just been scissored at € 8 billion because others seem to be the Commission’s priorities. This is why ministers Lorenzo Guerini, Florence Parly, Margarita Robles and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer conclude by asking that the European Defense Fund be “properly fed”. Minister Parly is perhaps the most explicit of all: “Committed alongside my colleagues for a Europe that is more sovereign and more protective than its 446 million citizens. We have the means, we have the will, we dare solidarity ».



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https://www.lastampa.it/topnews/primo-piano/2020/05/30/news/il-covid-19-mette-paura-ai-ministri-della-difesa-europei-1.38907586

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