Bratislava, 27 September 2016 – According to Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, European Union Member States must take national defence seriously and boost investments in national defence.
“Citizens are waiting for the European Union and its Member States to provide them with better protection,” said Hanso after today’s meeting of EU Defence Ministers in Bratislava. “My message to my colleagues is that the Member States of the European Union must increase monetary contributions towards developing their national defence capabilities.”
According to Hanso, there are significant differences when it comes to defence expenditures, as only five countries – Estonia among them – are spending at least two per cent of GDP on defence, with some countries not even spending one per cent of their GDP on defence. “On a positive note, national defence expenditures by European countries are once again on the rise after many years of decline.”
According to the Minster of Defence, the European Union will only be able to assert its strength if Member States possess adequate military capabilities, that they are prepared to use for the benefit of the European Union, for example, in military operations.
Hanso said that the EU Member States have no plan to create a joint EU army, as has been discussed in the media. “In general, ministers of defence in Europe are somewhat hesitant about whether there is a need to create a military structure that duplicates NATO. Instead, already existing structures – such as the European Union's Battlegroups – should be better used.”
The ministers of defence discussed the proposal to create an EU military headquarters and found that there is no clear need. “Management of European military operations must be improved, although the question is whether the creation of a new headquarters is the best solution,” said Hanso.
Today, at the meeting of defence ministers, the European Commission presented proposals regarding the creation of a common defence industry market. According to Hanso, if implemented, these proposals could bring tangible benefits to Estonia's defence industry. “Our defence industry would be able to participate in the defence procurements of bigger European countries, and our Universities would also be able to participate in international research and development projects.”
The next discussion on defence cooperation proposals will be in October, when the foreign ministers of European Union Member States meet; and in November, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, should prepare an operational programme for the proposals.