European defence ministers have agreed to reinforce European military cooperation – what they call “a force multiplier”. A projected “sharing of roles and duties” among European countries will be intended as a way to make up for widespread austerity cuts in budgets.
The meeting in Brussels pointed to a scarcity of resources in all the EU Member States. This was raised in a document presented jointly by Germany and Sweden. The focus was on cooperation, pooling resources and military interoperability, with welcome input from the European Defence Agency.
Bilateral and multilateral initiatives such as the recent UK-France Defence Cooperation Treaty were also noted. As part of UK cuts, it is scrapping its flagship Ark Royal aircraft carrier, though it is starting work on two others, and, like France, it plans to shed thousands of forces’ personnel.
These two countries have Europe’s foremost defence capacities, but, as they said in November, cooperation is about saving money.
Europe represented 30 percent of the world’s military spending fifteen years ago and it is now 20 percent, while emerging economies are investing heavily.