EU's defence and space arm will complement NATO

Under new Commission the EU will create a new defence and space unit to help fund, develop and deploy armed forces, President-elect Ursula von der Leyen stated last Tuesday. The creation of a defence branch, long resisted by Britain, is an attempt by the EC new head to stem a decline in EU influence, as it faces heavy US pressure to do more for its own security.

“The European Union will never be a military alliance,” von der Leyen said. “But the EU Member States have been told many times ... that common procurement for their armed forces is of utmost importance,” she told a news conference. In her words the plans would benefit the NATO alliance to which many EU states belong Sylvie Goulard, a former long-time MEP currently at Frances central bank, will be responsible for the new directorate general, as commissioner for industrial policy.

Although von der Leyen gave few details, the defence arm will build on an EU military pact signed in late 2017 to integrate defence forces by working on new weapons and contributing to rapid deployments. Washington supports the initiative, but has also warned against shutting US companies out of defence contracts.

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