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EU wants funds for 'stronger defence policy' amid coronavirus threat

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EU wants funds for 'stronger defence policy' amid coronavirus threat
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From building hospitals to transporting medical equipment, defence services have been key in battling the coronavirus outbreak, but cooperation is critical for these efforts to bear fruit.

The EU has launched a "task force" to mobilise national armies to transport patients and medical supplies from one country to another within the bloc.

EU defence ministers met on Tuesday to assess the bloc's continuing ability to respond to the pandemic.

The final aim of defence cooperation is to strengthen the EU's resilience to infectious diseases, even in the case of a hypothetical biological attack.

That will require funding from the next EU budget.

"I hope that in this scenario, the resources allocated to the defence and security policy will not diminish, because coronavirus has brought a new threat and it requires a stronger defence and security policy, a stronger Europe in the world," Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief told our reporter.

Beyond defence, easy access to medicines and medical equipment is key to security, as supply-chains can be easily interrupted.

Europe needs to increase production and storage capacity of medical essentials. Brussels has sought to do this via joint procurement orders.

"The degree of globalisation that we have at the moment with the international delivery chain, for example, 90 per cent of the masks are produced in China, it is something we need to reconsider," said German MEP Hannah Neumann.

She adds that we need to look at which industries are crucial to Europe, in case the global supply chain breaks down, to ensure Europe is not so vulnerable in future.