23:41 GMT +321 January 2020
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - Europe should do its utmost to ensure self-sufficiency in defense and security, however, it should stay within the framework of NATO, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Thursday.

    "Ensuring security is our common responsibility. We should achieve an autonomous and reliable potential to respond to all potential threats as soon as possible, we should also continue our efforts aimed at protection of our external borders," Michel said in the European Parliament.

    The politician added that Belgium was planning to continue being a "reliable partner" within NATO.

    "We want European defense within the framework of NATO and [the European] program of structured cooperation in the sphere of defense and the European Defence Fund are good tools for moving forward to this issue. Our operative capabilities should ensure the protection of our values and geopolitical interests," the head of the Belgian government said.

    Europe should be more active in geopolitics in order to ensure the protection of its interests and the promotion of its values, Michel said.

    "The international norms and rules of conduct are respected less and less… More than ever we should think and act in a global manner. We should work out a real strategy of relations with the neighbors, we should better avert regional conflicts and we should better prevent potential consequences [of such crises]," Michel said, citing the conflicts in Libya and Syria.

    The day before, the European Commission proposed a 40-percent increase of security spending in the EU 2021-2027 budget. The Commission also proposed to increase foreign policy spending and to establish a defense fund worth 13 billion euros ($15.57 billion).

    READ MORE: 'Common Shield': Will Russia, EU Ever Create a Defense Alliance?

    In April, European Defense Agency Chief Executive Jorge Domecq said in an article for the Royal Elcano Institute foundation that total EU investments in "defense capability development" could reach five billion euros on an annual basis after 2020.

    On Trust Within the EU

    Speaking in the European Parliament on the topic "The Future of Europe," Michel noted that the European Union is facing a fundamental credibility gap on the part of its citizens toward the bloc's institutions.

    The prime minister noted that the EU's authorities should "convince EU citizens by real results, keeping promises. Peace, security, freedoms and democracy are not just empty words, put promises that we've given."

     

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