Common security and defence policy - financial crisis and defence sector: - extracts from the Joint debate

Type: News   Reference: 81198   Duration: 00:04:59  Lieu: Strasbourg, France - EP
End production: 13/12/2011   First transmission: 13/12/2011
The economic crisis has led to cuts in defence budgets and "uncoordinated defence budget cuts could result in the complete loss of certain military capabilities in Europe", warns Rapporteur Krzysztof Lisek (EPP, PL), who has drafted a report on the impact of the crisis on the defence sector. Nevertheless the crisis could be an opportunity for more integration, pooling and sharing of capabilities, such as strategic and tactical transportation, logistical support, maintenance, space capabilities, cyber defence, but also medical support, education and training, transport helicopters, air-to-air refuelling, maritime surveillance, unmanned vehicles, protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks, satellite communication... MEP's noted with concern the culmination of a trend in recent years of cuts in the defence budgets of the majority of EU Member States in the wake of the financial, economic and debt crisis. These cuts are considered to have potential negative impact on Member States military capabilities and, therefore, on the ability of the EU to effectively take over its responsibilities in peace keeping, conflict prevention and the strengthening of international security, should the Member States fail to make up for these losses through increased European cooperation and coordination. The outcome of the last Defence Ministers Council on the 30th November 2011 was regretted, as the Council did not support the creation of the European HQ. It was recalled that the intervention in Libya clearly demonstrated that even a coalition of European countries is unable to carry out an operation of this kind without US support. On this matter, the reliance on the United States in defence matters is considered disproportionate, given that the US share of all defence spending in the North Atlantic Alliance has risen to 75 %, so that there would be a need for European allies to increase their share of the defence burden. The Member States collectively spend about EUR 200 billion a year on defence, which is only about a third of the US defence budget but still a considerable amount demonstrating the costs of non-Europe in the defence area. Most of these funds are spent on uncoordinated national defence planning decisions, which results, on the Rapporteur view, not only in persistent capability gaps, but often also in wasteful overcapacities and duplications, as well as fragmented industry and markets, which leads to the EU not having either the visibility, resources or reach of EUR 200 billions’ worth of spending.

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00:00:00 TITLE : Common security and defence policy - financial crisis and defence sector: - extracts from the Joint debate 00:00:10
00:00:10 SOUNDBITE (Polish) Rapporteur LISEK Krzysztof (EPP, PL) English translation : - Financial crisis is a global phenomenon and it also has touched the defence sector. There is a common tendency to cut spendings on defence in the Member States which is of course the object of our concern. It is true that maintaining these spendings on defence when we are in financial crisis, when there are social pressure, it's not an easy task, but I personally am of the opinion that even in such terrible times, difficult times for european finances, we shouldn't neglect this budget. I presented in my report some ways of optimizing these spendings, how the ressources that we have, even if they are smaller than in the past, can be spent more efficiently and better. 00:00:59
00:01:09 SOUNDBITE (English) Tunne KELAM (EPP, EE) - Reducing the defence sector because of the financial crisis, poses a risk of the credibility of Europe as a stabilizing force in the world. It's not even the question of reduction of spending and expenditure. Even more alarming, is the way money is being used. National defence planning continue to be very much uncoordinated, which results in capacity gaps, overcapacities and duplications. Absolutely is the share of defence research and technology in our spending. But the message of this report is that financial crisis provides also opportunities, it's time to end the traditional isolation in national defence planning. And I absolutely agree with High Representative who said that multinational cooperation, pooling and sharing should become a rule rather than exception in our activities. 00:01:02
00:02:11 SOUNDBITE (German) Alexander Graf LAMBSDORFF (ALDE, DE) English translation : - I always ask my constituency, when we are talking about Defence, who has more soldiers, the European Union or the United States ? And the answer is : the European Member States have a total of 2 million soldiers carrying weapons, when the United States have 1,4 million. We are only spending 3 times as much as the United States are on their Forces, that's non-sense, so we have to going for pooling and sharing. 00:00:31
00:02:42 SOUNDBITE (English) Ana GOMES (S&D, PO) Spending shrinking defence and security budget in a smarter way as you said Lady Ashton requires getting rid of the corruption which is pervasive in the offset system and the opacity dominating the security and defence procurement. it also requires that two Member States, Britain and France, are persuaded to cease wasting money in their nuclear arsenals which cannot counter any of the threats European world if now facing, just the opposite. Finally, Lady Ashton, Libya was a glaring missed opportunity for a CSTP mission and therefore for EU and not franco-british leadership. Your job is indeed to persuade Member States to not miss these opportunities and to assume these responsibilities. And we, in this Parliament, will definitely support in this endeavours. 00:00:46
00:03:28 SOUNDBITE (German) Reinhard BÜTIKOFER (Greens/EFA, DE) English translation : - There are two points which unfortunately are on the negative side about this report, firstly there is an attempt, because of the fact that budgets are tight to cannibalize the EU budget for defence purposes and that cannot be right. It's not right to include military research as part of the horizon 2020 programme or the FP7 and to use the EU budget for that purpose. It's not right to finance the Defence College by way of the EU or to open up the structural funds for the benefits of the armament industry or to have some sort of military Erasmus coming out of the EU budget. I think that really distracts from the real task namely that we should have efficiency and a good use of money. 00:00:54
00:04:22 SOUNDBITE (Portuguese) Joao FERREIRA (GUE/NGL PT) English translation : - The same ladies and gentlemen who had defend taxes on the poorer of Europe on behalf of deficit, cuts in wages, so-called adjustment, getting rid of public health systems and social security in the form we know, this very same people now come to say that we need to develop Europe's military capacities and that we must grant that budget recuts do not affect militaries capacities. 00:00:28
00:04:50 CUTAWAYS : 3 shots 00:00:09
00:04:59 END 00:00:00
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