We, the European Democrat Students (EDS), after a detailed analysis of the evolution and characteristics of the budget of Member States, have observed a need to strengthen their military investment. Not only is the Russian invasion of Ukraine a wake-up call for EU security and defence policy makers and experts, but it is also a call for a stronger and more coordinated European defence policy. For instance, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell stated that “the military capabilities we have do not match the ones we need for the threat we face. We need to spend together, more and better.”
The new security and defence environment demonstrates that the EU needs to take on more responsibility for its own security, the continuous dependency on the United States’ defence budget, through NATO, is no longer a possibility due to the new and larger threats that we face towards our democracies and Western values. In 2020, only 11% of investments were spent collaboratively, which is below the 35% benchmark agreed by member states in the European Defence Agency framework. Also, only a few European countries comply with the 2% target set by NATO to all their members. Consequently, there is currently an underinvestment problem that directly affects our military capabilities. Not only is this budget necessary to strengthen our defense against conventional wars such as the war in Ukraine, but also against the hybrid wars promoted by the enemies of the Western world, which include cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure.
The fact that the European countries that have a close border or history with Russia are the ones that spend higher per cent in defence shows that they are aware of the risk of an underinvestment in the relevant military branches. In this sense, it is worth noting that due to the austerity policies imposed budget cuts have been imposed in the security of European Countries, something that cannot be repeated during these years in which we are experiencing very uncertain and volatile economic and financial circumstances. The only way to protect our democracy is to increase (and not lower) our defence capabilities in a joint and coordinated effort among EU countries.
It is time to protect our democracies by ourselves, it is time to reconsider and invest more in European defence.