Home Politics Monitor The war in Ukraine is pushing for a significant increase in European defense capabilities
Politics Monitor

The war in Ukraine is pushing for a significant increase in European defense capabilities

The main group leaders of the European Parliament are preparing a joint declaration on aid to Ukraine which could be published as early as this Friday, according to our information. They call on EU heads of state and government to quickly agree on financial assistance and military support for Kiev, three weeks before a European Council which must decide on budgetary issues.

During the last summit in December in Brussels, Hungary blocked a package of 50 billion in financial aid over four years (2024-2027), which should allow the Ukrainian state to function and maintain its war effort. During a meeting of the ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven on Wednesday, Budapest began to release the test, and legislative work on this facility could be launched.

The file, however, remains subject to a compromise by the Twenty-Seven on the entire budgetary extension for the period 2024-2027, which also provides funds for migration policy and the increase in interest charges. The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, will probably seek to monetize his green light, for example by requesting an extension of the post-Covid recovery fund and European funds for securing its borders.

Intervention by Giorgia Meloni

According to the Bloomberg agency, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is seeking to cajole her Hungarian counterpart on the subject of Ukraine and to improve her relations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It would thus prepare the ground for Fidesz, Viktor Orban’s party, to join the ECR group in the European Parliament, which brings together Eurosceptic groups like his own, Fratelli d’Italia, or the Polish PiS. Fidesz was affiliated with the conservatives of the EPP before leaving in 2021, being very close to being excluded due to undermining the rule of law.

Another signal of relaxation from Budapest: the head of Hungarian diplomacy, Peter Szijjarto, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kouleba, have planned to meet on January 29 in Uzhhorod, a city in western Ukraine where he resides a large Magyar community. Hungary says it is concerned about the treatment of the Hungarian minority by kyiv.

The fact remains that Budapest continues to block the eighth tranche of 500 million euros of the European Peace Facility (EFF), this instrument which reimburses EU member states for military aid they have granted to Kiev.

Response to a sudden need

The EU’s difficulties in assuring kyiv of its full support are fueling reflection on the defense industry, whose weaknesses the war in Ukraine has highlighted. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, formalized this week the concept of a fund of 100 billion euros for increasing arms production capacities in the EU and the defense industrial base, which according to him “must be constantly ready to respond to a sudden need”.

EU: support for Ukraine will be at the heart of the Belgian presidency

The former French Minister of Finance, who sees this as “a vital subject” for the Union, does not comment on the terms of this new instrument, but does not exclude a new common debt of the Twenty-Seven, on the model of the post-Covid recovery plan. According to him, the important thing is to raise the debate and recognize the need for massive investments in defense.

“As long as there is political will, we know how to find the means,” he assured Wednesday in front of Brussels journalists. The commissioner, whose concept has already received a very favorable reception in Poland and the Baltic countries, will soon begin a tour of Europe to spread the concept.

Cooperation with the United Kingdom

His words echo those of Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, who on Monday, during his greetings, called on the defense industry to “take risks” and make a “cultural break”. According to him, “we must live with the obsession of financing the technologies and weapons programs of tomorrow”.

Nathalie Loiseau, the president of the Security and Defense subcommittee of the European Parliament, who is pushing this approach, believes for her part that “in terms of European defense we cannot move forward by turning our back on the United Kingdom. On the contrary, we must cooperate with London. The fourth meeting of the European Political Community, this spring across the Channel, must serve to nourish this dialogue. »

This article is originally published on .lesechos.fr

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