The Commission announced, June 7, plans to establish a security and defense union within the EU, with its own defense budget in an effort to address the growing threats facing Europe and to enhance Europe's own abilities in defense by 2025.
"Through the European Union, we can support member states in developing military capabilities and investing more efficiently in defense. We have come a long way in less than one year and we are determined to keep this pace," said European Commission High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini.
EU leaders are set to meet in Prague, in the Czech Republic, Jun 9, to discuss how to use the potential of the Treaties for stepping up cooperation in defense. The Commission is recommending member states pool together certain financial and operational assets to increase solidarity in defense.
However, some MEPs say the defense union would replicate some of the work done by NATO and that the militarization is taking the EU in the wrong direction, having been set up in order to achieve peace in Europe after the Second World War.
"[The] European Commission's Future of European Defense proposals undermine NATO," the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group said in a statement.
"It is NATO that has preserved peace and security in Europe since the end of the Second World War. The real question is, how do we give more strength to this great alliance and ensure the continued commitment of the United States to our defense. Certainly not by spinning statistics and creating alternative structures that will merely increase the transatlantic divide," said ECR's Defense & Security Spokesman, Geoffrey Van Orden.
"The European Commission's proposals show once again that the EU is on an ego trip, motivated by its own ambitions rather than security needs," he said.
"The EU Defense Fund is taking a fatally-flawed direction. The general consensus — at least officially — is that the EU budgetary funds are not to be used for defense purposes. That is clearly now no longer the case. This consensus is now being blown up by the EU Defense Fund," said the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group's Sabine Losing, Coordinator on the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"This will open up the political floodgate. We are therefore at the start of a very slippery slope. If the funding restrictions on military matters are lifted, the EU defense budget will presumably be in the hundreds of billions in the near future. The defense industry might be pleased as punch to hear that — but it's a dark day for those of us who are working towards a peaceful and social European Union," said Losing.