Vice–President Jyrki Katainen, the Director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) Teija Tiilikainen and Research Fellow (FIIA) Matti Pesu discussed how the EU's defence and security policy landscape has changed dramatically over recent years and how it should develop in the future.
The discussion with around 70 participants turned around topics such as the EU defence budget, Europe’s place in the world and the threats by external powers. One participant expressed concerns about security in the arctic region, where “even China has interests”. On that same topic, another participant wanted to know if it is possible to completely demilitarise the region.
There were then some questions on defence budget, with one participant asking how Finland can guarantee that - if the EU budget includes funds for military research and development – the Finnish defence industry will benefit too. Another participant asked which other policy would receive budgetary cuts if more money is dedicated to defence.
On Europe’s place in the world, one participant said that “China’s actions are moving the world politics’ hot spot to the East” and then questioned whether the EU is not being side-lined in international politics because of this.
Turning to the West, a participant asked whether the special relationship between the EU and the US, based on common values, was still valid or whether President Trump had turned it into a commercial and financial relationship only.
Participants were also worried about how the EU can survive the “US-China power struggle” and about what would happen if Russia collapses and disintegrates.