Europe is today surrounded by a “ring of fire.” All along its eastern and southern borders, countries are beset by political instability, repression and conflict; in Ukraine, Libya, Egypt, Israel-Palestine, Syria and more, right across Europe’s neighbourhood there are growing security challenges.

Despite this, a combination of austerity-driven budget cuts and historical wariness of military spending mean that among EU Member States in NATO, only Estonia, Greece and the UK met the alliance’s target of 2% of GDP spent on defence last year. In 2012, EU Member States spent an average of roughly 1.5% of GDP on defence. In real terms, total defence spending has been decreasing in the EU since 2006, dropping about 10% from 2006 to 2011.

Many of our readers would like it to fall even further. For example, we had a comment sent in by Proactive arguing:

citizen_icon_180x180Military spending versus education [spending]? Which creates more jobs and makes more sense? Research shows that [the defence] industry creates the least jobs per monetary unit invested than any other one! From this point of view it would be a great waste for “normal peaceful countries” to be dragged into a race to meet the 2% GDP spending as per EU proposal.

We recently spoke to Anna Fotyga, a former Polish Foreign Minister and current MEP and Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Security and Defence, and asked her to respond to Proactive’s comment:

We also spoke to the Hungarian Minister of Defence, Csaba Hende, and asked him to also respond to Proactive’s question. As the minister responsible for overseeing his country’s defence spending, how would he respond to the suggestion that defence budgets should be radically reduced?

Hende-CsabaNATO as a whole – and Europe in particular – face various and complex security challenges, which are often ignored by European societies. It is a false perception that if we live in peace then our security will not be challenged. The world is going through intensive changes, which come together with serious challenges. If we take a look at the neighbourhood of Europe we can see conflicts and wars almost everywhere: in Ukraine, in the Middle East, in North-Africa. And we can add some areas of the Western-Balkans to the list, where the situation is still fragile. At the same time we have to cope with new challenges, like cyber threat, too. Money is essential to address these challenges properly.

We also had a comment from Rob arguing that attitudes towards defence spending in the EU tend to be split along geographic lines:

citizen_icon_180x180I note Southern Europeans tend to be in favour of scrapping any military at all (when I lived in Lisbon, people seemed to favour far left parties, at least while at university) and Eastern Europeans tend to be in favour of a strong military deterrent as they remember the recent past.

How can those two attitudes be reconciled? We asked Polish MEP Anna Fotyga what she saw as the solution:

We also asked Hungarian Defence Minister Csaba Hende to respond. He argued that governments in Europe are (at least when speaking to their NATO allies) united in their commitment to increase defence budgets:

Hende-CsabaDuring the recent NATO Summit in Wales, the member states expressed unity and agreement regarding the requirement that all member states have to increase defence spending with the ambition of reaching 2% of their GDP in the future. Although no exact date has been laid down to achieve this goal, this can be considered as a great leap forward.

If you’re interested in the issues raised by this debate, you can also take part in the Security Jam organised by our partner think-tank, the Security & Defence Agenda. The Security Jam brings together thousands of security stakeholders from government, the military, academia, think-tanks, media and NGOs to discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, NATO, cybersecurity and other security and defence issues. Visit the SDA website to register and take part. We have also put together an infographic comparing defence spending in the EU with spending in other regions in the world:


Defence spending in the EU has been falling since 2006, despite NATO urging countries to spend more. Instead of increasing defence budgets, should austerity-strapped countries rather invest more in education? Given there is peace in Europe, should defence budgets be cut even more? Or does this attitude gravely underestimate the threats and challenges Europe faces in the 21st Century? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reaction!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – UK Ministry of Defence

178 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    They shouldnt, it is this War Machine Nato that wishes to cause trouble with Russia etc. that would certainly need to increase defense spending because they are intent on fighting whoever.

  2. avatar
    Stephan Rwiepuddle

    The Nato spends 10 times as much as Russia for their military forces. There is no need to make it 11 or 12 times.

    • avatar
      George Yiannitsiotis

      What the USA is calling for means that the other NATO members share the burden more equally (in accordance with their economic capability). It is odd to ask e.g. bankrupt Greece to spent more than 3.5% of its GDP for defence and the main euro beneficiary, Germany less than 1.5%. Germany, Japan and other countries experienced growth after WW II primarily because they were not obliged to sustain high military spending. Thus, they invested in productive sectors of the economy, avoiding the inflationary military expenditure. What the USA ask is to keep NATO’s military spending at the same level but to change the sharing of its burden. Germany and the eastern EU countries can not depend on NATO without contributing more to keep it alive.

  3. avatar
    Stephan Rwiepuddle

    To answer the question stated in the status: of yourse they should! I dont know how anybody ever could disagree.

  4. avatar
    Dan Florin

    Unfortunately, there is not yet any other mean of defending themselves except by the fire power…. Too bad we still need that!

    • avatar
      Oliver H

      Yes, there is, and it’s at the heart of the EU idea: To make war between nations not just inthinkable but materially impossible, as Robert Schuman put it.

      If attacking you would lead to the attacker suffering an economic collapse, it would be unable to fund and pursue its own war.

    • avatar
      George Yiannitsiotis

      @ Oliver H
      Robert Schuman could not foresee the economic war launched against the weaker EU members by the strongest ones. Therefore, the argument stands incomplete. Germany launched an economic war against the PIGS back in 2010 and it soon face economic collapse except if it opts for a more equal, true European Union (not a German economic empire).

      Any idea how to counterbalance such attacks inside the EU?

  5. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Investment in defence is only a short term partial solution to a much bigger problem. Investment in education, in ethical business practices, in peace education are much longer term and much more encompassing solutions.
    Defence will do very little as long as the EU will continue funding currupt developing world governments who exploit their people making them seek a better life eslewhere, namelly, the EU.
    Today the EU offers all this funding to corrupt developing country governments, while ignoring the misery of the common people in those countries, simply and primarily because business interests in the EU want their cheap natural resources.
    These exploited masses will continue to flock to the EU either by peaceful or radically forceful means. They will continue to do that for as long as misery is the norm in the living conditions in these countries, all of them, with few exceptions, governed by corrupt politicians who are financed by ethically distorted EU investment policies.
    Let us think PEACE not WAR!

    • avatar
      George Yiannitsiotis

      Obviously you live either in a country of the EU center or in one that does not face a real military threat by another state member of the International Community. No the case of Greece and Cyprus vs Turkey!

  6. avatar
    Aleksander Kędzieja

    Si vis pacem para bellum. Besides, it’s one of the last things a country can do to boost its economy without breaking EU law and a lot of technology comes from military spending – ever heard of the internet?

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      It is true that some technology is a civilian by-product of research into how to more efficiently kill people. The US created a system of interconnected computers for the purpose of assisting military research and it was in Switzerland that the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). put it to civilian use and created the WWW. It could have been done directly and that would be helped if 54% of the US annual budget was not hi-jacked by the military industrial complex.

  7. avatar
    Mihail Naydenov

    Defense spending in the EU and NATO should certainly be increased so as to be more adequate given the evolving security challenges. Nonetheless, this would not be enough.
    First and foremost, defense management, or the way money as limited resource is being spent, will make the crucial difference. If more money does not make more defense capabilities, which will happen for sure if duplication, corruption and waste persist, any further increase will result in proportionally more inefficiency. Defense budgets serve one key purpose and it is to ensure at any time enough defense capabilities that can be used in operations and missions.
    What is more, in the years to come increased defense spending should become more multinational rather than national. the NATO ‘Smart Defense’ and the EU ‘Pooling&Sharing’ initiatives for joint capability acquisition and maintenance are the right answer.

  8. avatar
    Joao Da Costa

    That shouldn’t even be a question. Education is the best investment a country can make. Educated citizens help develop society and increase growth. It also create more political active citizens, and a more democratic society. It is an investment for the future.

    • avatar
      mark abbot

      The Russians are building up their offensive capabilities by 21% this year alone. The reason that the west appears to spend more is that they pay its military at least 20 times what a Russian conscript gets paid and those who build their weapons her paid less than 20 cents on the dollar as opposed to NATO. Russia invaded Crimea and parts of ukraine to make Ukraine a vassal state of theirs

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      Russia did indeed capture Crimea in 1783 from the Ottoman Empire. Kruschev administered it as part of Ukraine from 1954 onwards. The US/NATO organised a coup recently which overthrew the government in Ukraine and this would have given control of Crimea to US/NATO. Russia has real fears and legitimate interests, such as the treatment of the people of Russian nationality or culture in Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia etc. The future should lie in trade and tension reduction measures………………which unfortunately is not profitable, in the short term.

  9. avatar
    Xavier Schoumaker

    If we do not want people brought-up stigmatised and alienated like in Syria and Iraq than obviously we should not apply austerity to education – especially towards the most vulnerable – which is as close as it comes to giving-up on the future.

    The reality is, European governments made cuts in education almost directly – cuts in defence are hardly discussed. Those discussions always take place after elections, when the electorate no longer has a say. And in most countries they than increase expenses on planes (or other toys) from highly corrupting companies like Lockheed Martin, BAE & so on. Then we end up with F35s which are obsolete with public procurement made a joke of.

    Yes, security is an issue – but we can do better by stopping the waste – why 3 Baltic armies, why 3 Benelux armies? Why 30 or so European armies? We can trust one another a bit more and make those call-for-tenders a lot more transparent and join our efforts to get decent deals and know how to fight back against the corruption of the defence industry’s “deep pockets”. We will know anyway what they will buy – this is not “secure information”. Secrecy in security is only necessary for those who benefit from keeping everyone ignorant.

  10. avatar

    There should not be a debate on this matter. After years training armies, where in fact is by the diplomatic interventions that the wars finish, we should now deploy all ours efforts to the education of citizens that think and act on a civilised way. The citizens of the XXI century should learn to live in harmony, by respecting religious, ethnicities, cultural differences…

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      Yes, that is the way forward and we should spend the military budget in doing just that.

  11. avatar
    Sylvain Duret

    Because other countries don’t want peace for Europe : some of them think that our liberty is dangerous for their autocracy. An union of defense spending will give us a lot of economies and a better defense.

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      It is Europe as part of NATO which is doing the attacking and it is US/NATO which has destroyed the countries and nations of South-West Asia. We are both the historical and present-day aggressors. Please tell us who it is that ‘some of them think that our liberty is dangerous for their autocracy.’ We destroyed their countries by colonialism and more recently by destroying their countries and now we blame them?

  12. avatar
    Simon Molitor

    I am quite intrigued by the title of this debate. Are you referring to the culture of some EU countries to not take part in foreign operations or the current state of “peace” (inexistence of war) between EU members? Because for the second one, as Minister Hende mentioned, it?s a false perception we live in peace. You correctly stated that Europe is surrounded by a ring of fire, an arc of instability, and the EU needs the capabilities to be able to answer the security issues on its borders. Further reducing Defence Budgets would even more dispute the ability to answer such issues. The Army, Air Force and Navy a tools in service of the political power of a country. They provide a strategic insurance against threats and we will soon reach a point when the Heads of our armed forces will not be able to meet the demands of our political leaders regarding the mitigation of those threats.

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      The fire that exists was created and is being maintained by NATO for the profit of the US-European economies and for the rationalisation for the continued existence of NATO itself. The present political problems in North-Africa, Middle-East, Ukraine etc. were caused by NATO countries.

  13. avatar
    Debby Teusink

    si vis pacem para bellum! There is a ring of fire incirceling Europa, Russia, IS, Boko Haram, Al Quaeda, you name it. Only idiots believe we will never go to war anymore.

  14. avatar
    Paul Cornucopiist

    Cutting oil dependency, as the US is doing, will end the power of both dictatorial regimes (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Russia) that are threatening peace around the EU, and the European hawks who have involved us in Libya, Syria on the side of Islamists who we now have to fear.
    Spending that military money on sustainable development instead will bring peace both abroad and internally. The war on terror has alienated European Muslims and emboldened racist extremists, with a societal and security cost as result.
    We can have a egalitarian, peaceful, sustainable society, or the alternative. Unequal, bellicose, unsustainable. It is clear who wants us to spend billions and send Europeans to die abroad, or even start a civil war. It is the military-industrial and fossil fuel elites, to protect their interests. It is the bankers whose best clients are those elites, European, but often oligarchs.
    It should not be our politicians who are elected to look after our interests, not those of foreign multi-billionaires.

  15. avatar
    Alex Tselentis

    Why ?? Because the US Military Industrial Comples says so, NATO demands our taxes are STOLEN and used to fight false wars, and defend us from non existent enemies, its BUSINESS $$$$.

  16. avatar
    Rudi Spoljarec

    Of course, that EU should increase defence spending . If we are paeceful , does not mean that the others are peaceful. We in Croatia , have experienced very hard what means to be unarmed . Never again . Strong defence of EU is conditio sinequanon of piece in Europe . There is no other choice.

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      Former Yugoslavia was heavily armed and had great internal tensions which eventually had a civil war. If there had been greater historical time and better politicians, Yugoslavia could have evolved as a system of co-operating states/nations. But there was too much denial of the awful past and the ghosts of history awoke…………..We should learn from this.

  17. avatar
    Vitor F Veiga

    war is always a big business! I believe that more spending isn’t the way, but more “intelligent” spending… spend in more quality and efficient defence system’s

    • avatar

      Poland for example, they’re belligerent warmongers.

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      All of the European countries who are members of NATO are involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria etc. either directly or by finance. When in September 2009 the Luftwaffe was killing civilians in Afghanistan, there was peace in Germany.

  18. avatar
    Paul X

    Countries who wish to spend nothing on defense are stupid beyond belief. Who is going to save their ar$e if some idiots start hijacking planes and flying them into their buildings? Without an air force what can they do but stand and watch? (or more likely go whining for help to some other sensible country that has spent on defense)

    Putting aside all the insecurity in the world the next main reason to have a good defense force is for national emergency. If a country is badly hit by a natural disaster (flood earthquake etc) who are the first ones getting involved with trying to get things back to normal? 9 times out of 10 its the Army and Air force. Those countries who don’t invest enough in their forces have no right to expect other countries to supply manpower and aircraft to help in the relief effort if they suffer some disaster

    Basically defense spending is the same as an insurance policy. It is for something you hope you never have to use, but you are naive beyond belief if you take the risk of not having it

  19. avatar
    Mihai Turcanu

    education is important, but they cannot invest in education in Russia, or Syria, thats why appropriate defense spendings are mandatory now

  20. avatar
    Gatis Gailitis

    Education is a key as always but you won’t be able to defend yourself with books against a foreign enemy.

  21. avatar
    catherine benning

    Tell me if I have this wrong, but, didn’t the EU come about in order for Europe to stop warring? Why did the EU join NATO? Why are you now trying to turn this union into a war machine with the nations who must be at war with whoever they can find a slim reason to attack as their economy relies on it. They do this either by lies or instigation. Why are you pushing this continent of people into this mind set? What is in it for you?

    No, we Europe should not be in any war anywhere in the world unless we are attacked first. And that doesn’t mean attacked as a result of invasion by any member state of the union or following the great war machine of the USA. We are not Americans, did not vote for their lack lustre President and don’t like their ethos. Do you really want to have an economy based on warring? Because, that is what you are falling into.

    And those who come on here from the UK are employees of some kind of warring concern. Whatever end of it they are trying to promote. Ordinary people in the UK are not in the habit of trying to push their country into war that will ultimately affect them. Unless, of course, they are crazy. They who do this, have something to gain. Just like Blair. That one who has numerous kids and does not appear to be pushing for them, the right age, or himself, to be in the front line in any battle where their heads will come off.

    When this Blair creature sends his kids, including the ‘equality’ daughter, and himself into the line of fire, I will believe his intentions are and were honourable or his push was not based on lies and making a private fortune. Until then, he and his crowd can go and shove their mantra up anothers rump.

  22. avatar
    Blagovest Blagoev

    Putin, Islamic State… Do we need more reasons?
    Peace? Progress? Education? Liberty? These are things we value, these are things endangered, and this is why we need the means to defend them. This is why we need stronger defense forces.
    Our world is becoming more and more dangerous place, where international law is becoming more and more just useless paper. Signed contracts and expressing “deep concerns” will not be able to protect us for much longer. This is why the EU needs an European Army. One that would be capable to stand ground against large threats on its own.
    The moment when the EU will be challenged on the grounds of the brute force is coming closer and closer and we should be ready. Not because we reject peace, but exactly because we want it.
    Those who want peace should be ready for a war.

    • avatar
      Oliver H

      “Putin, Islamic State… Do we need more reasons?”

      Maybe a valid one? Germany and France together are already now spending more than Putin, according to the Graph.

      “Peace? Progress? Education? Liberty? These are things we value, these are things endangered, and this is why we need the means to defend them. This is why we need stronger defense forces.”

      If shooting at things is the only means you know to defend yourself, I’d argue you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

    • avatar

      This is exactly the reason why I would like to see theee undemocratic EU dissolved. I do not care about your country, or Poland, or Estonia, or Ukraine.

      And Russia is not a threat. NATO is a threat, NATO engineered the Ukrainian coup in order to get a governmentt in Kiev that would sign Ukraines resources over to western corporations.

      Islamic State is even less of a threat.

  23. avatar

    I don’t think that it is necessary to increase the military budgets, if the member states of the European Union will share their capabilities and enlarge their collaboration within the CFSP. If we can achieve that, we can save money and we can make our forces more effective.

  24. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    Yes of course, we the pacific nations need to extract materials and make cheap products form our colonies so we need an army and some terrorist groups to mantain our interests in that conutries! Obiously military inverstment is the best option to make easy money in some time as we can conquere more lands and rebuilt territories but this dont make us more secure, the contrary… if we put our world in hands of militarized people you will see… good luck!

  25. avatar
    catherine benning

    PS: Does Switzerland give 2% of its GDP to NATO? And or Norway? Why should tax payers spend their money on this nonsense. You are really clowns if you believe anything thse people who are employed by the defense department of that organization are pushing. It is bull and their men are in a line on here. You can small them a mile away. Think of Shakespear’s term, ‘the lady doth protest too much, methinks.’

    These people who are pushing for this find it all amusing and see the leaders and the tax payers as idiots who are as dumb as? Here is what you are dealing with.


  26. avatar
    Jonathan Gaskell

    Butter is always better than guns, only problem is it is difficult for dead people to benefit from their educations!

  27. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    “Europe is today surrounded by a “ring of fire.”………… Why?

    How qualified are paid EU politicians- who have a vested interest- to give an unbiased explanation? Is that an admission of diplomatic ineptitude and failure or suffering from mass psychotic depressions in Brussels?

    Why not choose to avoid the “volcano’s” heat? The EU’s questionable enlargement policy plus the competition to protect & match economic might with increasing military power is a race towards an ever increasing global risk- solving what? More financial returns for some- but less safety for all! Action creates reaction!

    One will always have a camp of more pacifistic thinkers and others who choose to arm themselves to varying degrees- no matter what- ‘just in case”.

    It is not a matter of extremes of either spending nothing or ~2%, but a balanced optimum- depending to which club one wishes to belong. To “differ”- on military spending- is still democratically allowed by members within the EU! Being a NATO member- by choice- is a very serious business- like the vow of the 3 Musketeers!

    How can one keep the different aims of a ‘suggested’ EU defense force and a NATO/US global force & ambitions separate, to eventually avoid a conflict of interest? Rather ‘bandwagon’ on Uncle Sam’s ‘endless’ power!

    Why not wait for the temperature to become manageable? Adventurism? Luckily, the EC/EU was not yet able to hijack the exclusive competency from the member’s national autonomy in military & defense matters!

    Check which competences have already been handed over to the EC/EU (without guns) and the little bit which remain for members:

  28. avatar
    Breogán Costa

    because is a good business and we (stupid people) will feel safe (even when the biggest danger is not outside…)

  29. avatar
    ES Waqanivala

    Perhaps not in weapons as those choosing to attack are not visible i.e they are already within the borders.

  30. avatar
    Serge Lauer

    The E.U. needs an United European Army …seeing all threats it’s facing today ! Open the eyes!

    • avatar

      We need no such thing.

  31. avatar
    Paul X

    People seem to be getting confused here. The question being asked is about individual countries and their defense budgets, nothing to do with what they contribute (or don’t) to NATO

    Yes they need to spend on armed forces so they can stand on their own two feet if they have a terrorist threat or an internal disaster.

    EU army?..a joke, there would be so much internal politics controlling an EU army it would be a toothless white elephant only good for parading the EU flag past an egotistical EU President

    • avatar
      Oliver H

      “Yes they need to spend on armed forces so they can stand on their own two feet if they have a terrorist threat or an internal disaster.”

      Terrorist threats are criminal activities and the job of police, not the military. And disasters are disasters and aren’t being fought with bullets.

      “EU army?..a joke, there would be so much internal politics controlling an EU army it would be a toothless white elephant only good for parading the EU flag past an egotistical EU President”

      Except there are already not only joint EU operations but even supranational army units….

    • avatar
      Paul X

      “Terrorist threats are criminal activities and the job of police, not the military. And disasters are disasters and aren’t being fought with bullets”

      You totally miss my point:

      No countries police could cope with a major terrorist incident on the scale of 9/11. You will now find any potential similar incident is dealt with by the Air Force not the police, that makes any country that thinks it doesn’t need to spend money on an Air Force a softer target…well good luck to them, I know where I’d rather be

      Do not insult professional armed forces, “firing bullets” is one very small part of what they train to do. As an example, even relatively minor flooding in the UK resulted in armed services being called in to help with the relief effort. Royal Engineers repairing river banks, RAF rescuing people off house roofs… can rely on Joe Bloggs from the council turning up in a week or two with a couple of sand bags, but I prefer to know there are trained people who can be mobilised at short notice in the event of an emergency

      And joint operations between EU countries is not even remotely comparable to a single EU army….. the forces of each country taking part are still ultimately under the control of their own command structure, not under the control of some political bureaucracy with disparate internal agendas

  32. avatar

    Why should peaceful EU countries increase defense spending?

    Because “Peace” doesn’t come cheap in the region at this time.

    • avatar

      And because “Peace” has become a commodity as wheat, soy, oil, you name it.

  33. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    we should increase defending sepending because some companies need the money, and tipically these are companies of freinds of politicians, like Jose Maria Aznar and George Bush who now work in the weapon industry… courios isnt it?

  34. avatar
    Talis Briedis

    Not as long as Russia is aggressive. Putin and his goons only understand one thing, might is right.

  35. avatar
    Pedro Cardoso

    They need to invest in defense because actually EU gives 0 military protection to its members. The solution? A pan-european army independent from NATO.

  36. avatar
    Pedro Cardoso

    They need to invest in defense because actually EU gives 0 military protection to its members. The solution? A pan-european army independent from NATO.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      An EU army can never work, to many internal agendas within different countries would mean you will never get the unanimity required to deploy it

  37. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    In reference to DE’s now inserted infographic global figures- just a thought- by accepting their accuracy:

    * Total bn. Euro’s expended for defense- are ‘raw’ figures. They bear no relation to other vital stats and ignore different existing models of comparison. Also, considering the varied but home security circumstances and needs of the different “still autonomous EU member countries” outside NATO- to the others being part of NATO. That would produce a more rounded, informed and complete picture.

    * The Global Militarization Index (GMI) depicts the relative weight in relation to its society as a whole like: GDP, Health, military forces, number of physicians, and the overall population- (please google it- if interested)

    This model categorises the global 10 most “militarised” countries as: Israel, Singapore, Syria, Russia, Jordan, Cyprus, Kuwait, South Korea, Greece & Saudi Arabia. The US as 31st, Switzerland 63rd (its 2012 defense spending was 0.76% of GDP), Germany 81st and China 85th.

    * Than there is the “Global Peace Index” (GPI) from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)- A list of the most global peaceful counties:

    The unfortunate enlargement process added many “ring of fire members”- with a different past experience- to the EU core, increasing the volume for a call and unbalancing the vote within the EU 28 in favor of more military spending. As further east the EU enlarges- the louder these noises and the hotter the military climate in the EU will become. That needs to be stopped, Alternatively, a EU core could start afresh with a new EU, less complicated, of the willing & enlightened!

    Lately, one only hears & reads about increases in defense & weapons- but not an increase in diplomatic activities from leaders and the many diplomats paid to do just that!

  38. avatar
    Martin Unterholzner

    I think the question should not be reduced to what share of GDP is appropriate as defense bugdet. Of course we still need armed forces for defense purposes. But it is not an investment like education is. It is like an insurance policy: you hope that you never need it. I think that the question about how much to spend is far less important than the question about collaboration. Does it really make sense in the EU to have 28 separated armies? Can we spend the current budget in more efficient ways? I bet we can. Why don’t we create a European defense strategy? The result could be a more powerful, yet smaller and cheaper army.

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      @Martin, Hi there in Switzerland,

      Your Q: “Does it really make sense in the EU to have 28 separated armies?”
      Did you ever pose such question to a real Swiss or S.K?

      A: Yes! If the purpose is motivated to preserve & defend ones NATIONAL

      To protect and honor your ancestors efforts and preserve for coming generations the inherited cultural and ethical standards, traditions and reserve the right & will of today’s citizens, not wanting to become either voluntary extinct nor forced by any other means, nor abdicate this right of SELF- DETERMINATION to “supranational” organizations like an EU, NATO/US/Corporatism, their political marketing managers and salesmen!

      Selling the principle of SOVEREIGNTY- in a moment of delusion- would be a serious betrayal!

      On the other hand- if you are prepared to sign a nations sovereignty over to an insurance company- please read the fine print (T&C’s) accumulated over the last 66 years very carefully first!

      Neutrality is & would be a good choice- or as Tarquin says “cherry pick”!

    • avatar

      We don’t want a powerful army, not ANYWHERE in Europe.

    • avatar
      Martin Unterholzner

      @EU reform- proactive

      I haven’t posed the question to a “real” Swiss. Why? Because they answer to this and similar questions every day. You don’t need to ask them. I think terms like “SELF- DETERMINATION” and “SOVEREIGNTY” are used in inconsistent ways. I don’t know what you think about those concepts. But when looking at political reality, it becomes clear that politicians defend them if it serves them and forget about them if they hinder their intentions. Do you believe the Swiss would accept “SELF- DETERMINATION” if the French part of Switzerland asked for a referendum to be independet of Switzerland? Do you think the Scottish people got the possibility to vote without fighting for many years? The UK, which points out its “SOVEREIGNTY” when it comes to the EU, was not allowing the Scottish referendum for free.

      Another thing about “SOVEREIGNTY”: Does a country lose its “SOVEREIGNTY” when it signs an international treaty? I am asking because the UK is now considering the step back from European Human Rights agreement with this arguments even though no one forced them to accept it in the first place. In Switzerland there are similar tendencies: They want to vote if national laws precede international treaties motivated by preserving their “SOVEREIGNTY”. Does a sovereign country not need to comply with treaties it signed with other countries?

  39. avatar
    Serge Gautier

    Yeah right :) Educate, earn more money, you will need it to pay ransom when Putin’s liberators will demand for your well-educated children.

  40. avatar

    Military spending should be reduced to near zero. Why should we enrich American arms manufacturers? And where do they intend to get the money? By reducing healthcare, education, welfare and pension spending, presumably.

    There is no threat. Not from Russia, not from the Middle East. Stop meddling in other people’s affairs and stop supporting the #1 war criminals and warmongers in the world, namely the USA. And demand that genocidal war criminals Bush, Cheney and Blair are tried for war crimes and mass murder.

    • avatar
      Joe Thorpe

      With comments like this I am more convinced than ever that the UK should remove itself from the EU & never again be dragged into a war fought on the continent of Europe. European countries should sleep in the bed they make.

  41. avatar

    There should never be any kind of European army.

    The horror of the idea that unelected politicians who declared themselves to be income-tax-exempt would one day be able to grandstand around the world by sending other people’s children to die (like the warmongering USA does all the time) is too horrific to contemplate.

    Like I said before, there is no threat, apart from the one the salesmen of the US war industry want you to see.

  42. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Europe needs security and estability with Federalist policies because we are surrounded by a ring of fire

    • avatar

      No we don’t and no we aren’t.

  43. avatar

    God dammit.Germany should just buy those stinky mistral things and make em the core of an EU fleet.We all see what this ISIS dudes are doing ,but as rich as this country is we re leaving to wotk to the US and the kurdish.Just buy thoss crappy things and let them operate with an international crew.Then they could join forces with US carriers and bomb ISIS butts out of this planet.It would be a one time spending for the tax payer which would be exaptable,if the operating costs would be split between EU members.

  44. avatar

    Greece (at the SE outskirts of “Europe”) spends more than any other EU country regarding defence. Why? Because the EU is not a political Union that guarantees the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its mebers. Time to see some solidarity from the rest of the EU: time to see EU warships and EU warplanes patroling the Greek (EU)-Turkish borders and the Cypriot (EU)-Turkish borders….sharing the burden. FRONTEX is not enough!

  45. avatar

    The NATO budgetary requirement of 2% of GDP seems arbitrary post cold war When you consider NATO was formed as a counterweight to the USSR.

    When the USSR was still at large it was both one of the largest economies in the world with regards to production and had an active population of nearly 300 million, a number of satellite states around the globe. The USSR was also willing to put massive amounts of money into its military.

    Russia today has about half the population, the economy has not scaled up dramatically since the fall of the USSR and income gains have come largely from natural resources rather than industries where arms production is immediately possible.

    China is not a belligerent power and seems content to simply use money to get where it wants to be. To contest US spending China would have to increase its military budget by over 300%, to contest NATO spending it would need to be greater than a six fold increase.

    This leaves mostly militants in other countries, without a cohesive budget or much of a cause. The warfare is already tremendously asymmetrical meaning that leaps in technology such as fighter jets don’t seem to have much of an impact.

    “Evolving threats” for all intents and purposes is a scare term. There is a key difference between “defense” and “security”. IS for example is a security threat, terrorism is a possibility, but I don’t think any reasonable person would believe that even if it consolidated overnight the chunk of Syria and Iraq it has collected that it would ever be capable of attacking even most individual NATO countries.

    I’m willing to argue that fighting “separatist threats” has to be the ugliest manifestation of why greater military budgets are needed. I disagree with defending a Geo-political construct against the will of its inhabitants. Never mind that it is purely ideologically driven. Should Serbia join would member states be required to fight Kosovo separatists ? Separatism is part of politics, trying to repress opinions via the use of military force should not be on the map of any democracy, never mind a coalition of them.

    There is no threat that necessitates greater military spending. Security should involve security funding and protocol rather than token military spending increases. Fighting separatism should involve political debate, not thuggish intimidation. Dealing with countries such as Russia and China it makes far more sense to target the economies.

  46. avatar

    Its an interesting one, but there is need to recall September/11 always. Security need to be up to date so also the cost.

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      Yes, I also remember September/11 1973 and so do the people of Chile. When US President on July 3rd. 1979 signed an order for to supply advanced weapons to religiously motivated anti-government forces in Afghanistan, that was the trigger for the second September/11. It was all great fun of course, a great game for to use religious extremism to destabilise the Soviet Union. Well, who’s laughing now, except the arms producers and the ghouls who benefit from endless war.

  47. avatar
    Venkatesha Honnnapura Siddappa

    EU is not a Common Uinon,

  48. avatar
    Para Commando

    People don’t get it?
    It is because of defence we are here.
    It is because of defence people are able to be educated
    It is because of defence we are free.
    Rewind and ask yourself where would we be now if we had no weapons.
    I for one back a strong defence. And there is something seriously wrong if Countries are struggling to meet just 2% GDP.
    Do you really think giving politician 100% GDP would make our lives happier?

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      All of the European countries who are members of NATO are involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria etc. either directly or by finance. When in September 2009 the Luftwaffe was killing civilians in Afghanistan, there was peace in Germany. We should use the term ‘Military’ rather than defense. US/NATO has blood on its hands from all over the world.

  49. avatar
    Jason Pi

    Because iit keeps North Americans able to go down to Florida for the weekend.

  50. avatar
    Laurinda Seabra

    so they can keep on feeding the industrial military machine and financial sectors? – as an enabler for them to get the resources so as to give lots of “money in brown envelopes (offshores)” for elected and non-elected politicians and captains of industry? and if a few thousands of victims get killed, displaced and in poverty in the process? That’s just totally acceptable collateral damage

  51. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    First the EU should draw a strategy, a defense strategy, that is in tune with its political strategies, immigration strategies, etc.
    The the EU should look at defense spending and see if it is adequate or not.
    Until then why buy more weapons? To enrich the arms manufacturers? Who then sell to the enemy so that the EU needs to buy more weapons?
    Let us break the vicious cycle!

  52. avatar
    Rajput Sachin

    I live in Hungary . Trying to help NYPD , FBI , India Intelligenz . If the EU political Govt. understand my plans , defi they dont need such to invest in such bulky weapons n ammunitions. That doesnt matter how much u r loaded but when u r attacked , it matters by that time.

  53. avatar
    Andrew Lally

    defence escalates into aggression – I trust your bona fides is the best policy. Big countries should stop tring to expand their sphere of influence.

  54. avatar
    Christiane Vermoortel

    They shouldn’t and the EU should stop providing Isral with ‘research money’ which is spent on developing more sophisticated killing machines which are then tested on the Palestinians and when approved eagerly bought by ‘peaceful countries’ !

  55. avatar
    Andreas Sanchéz

    Because democracy needs to be capable of defending itself. And to all the members of the Europe-is-just-a-marionette-of-the-US-club, if Europe was capable of defending itself, we would not need the US to defend us and our interests and fighting our wars for us. Because, after all, it’s hypocritic to blame the US for going to war, when actually we benefit from it. According to Russias “foreign policy”, the European strategy of soft sanctions and making nice treaties, Putin gives a shit about, doesn’t really seem to work quite well, does it? Same strategy as in Georgia in 2008, where the Russian invasion was stopped only after the US declared their will to send troops.

  56. avatar
    Geoffrey Howard

    ….because the world is not peaceful.

    But Europe needs a united defense force….not individual military structures.

  57. avatar
    Boris Manov

    How can you ask such one sided questions? Is this propaganda? Why increase the budget for military? Why not invest in the children?

    AAAAA i forgot, maybe we are preparing for WWIII and there won’t be any Europe for our children.

  58. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Invest in a European defence mechanism, instead of individual small states increasing their defence budget, which will drain their resources and economy. No one will put up with a United and coordinated European defence. Not even Russia!!

  59. avatar
    Nina Nikoletou

    Actually if certain EU countries could stop selling guns to terrorists and extremists the world might be a better place

  60. avatar
    Irene Constantinou

    Because this new war cannot be confronted with armies the enemies can be in our countries and surprise us!!!!

  61. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    Because having a strong defence is peace. But this is actually funny, because EU has open borders with absolutely no control. Why have a defence system?

  62. avatar
    Antoine Che

    Because we have too much money and no poverty so we can waste it and give it to the crooks owning the weapon companies and paying for the electoral campaign of their partners in crime… :p

  63. avatar
    Daniel Dimitrov

    Next time a bomb goes off in Madrid or London, next time rioting in Paris, think about this “peace”.

  64. avatar

    Education produces a healthier society, more employment, and more money.
    Education destroy the fantasy, all problems of extremism are resolved, and there is no need to sand the soldier in one region for more than 10 years and there is no development because there is 0 investment in schools.
    The EU has to create an unique army in order to better control the spending and incise the efficiency with lees money. And the EU has to be part of NATO as EU and not as France, Italy, Germany etc.

    • avatar

      Education destroy the fanaticism not fantasy :P…

  65. avatar
    Gent Sinani

    Education produces a healthier society, more employment, and more money.
    Education destroy the fanaticism, all problems of extremism are resolved, and there is no need to sand the soldier in one region for more than 10 years and there is no development because there is 0 investment in schools.
    The EU has to create an unique army in order to better control the spending and incise the efficiency with lees money. And the EU has to be part of NATO as EU and not as France, Italy, Germany etc.

  66. avatar
    Gent Sinani

    Yes but however is politcal end strategy interes to continue to be oart of NATO

  67. avatar
    Gonçalo QuelhasLima

    Europe (except UK) represents nothing in terms of military capacity without the U.S.. A weak U.S. President like Obama underlines that to exhaustion and both Putin and the Middle East terrorists knows that very well. Russian started a campaign of counter-information years ago financing extremist anti-european parties both right wing and left wing all over and we were all sleeping and very happy selling fruits and milk to Russia.

  68. avatar
    Gonçalo QuelhasLima

    Europe (except UK) represents nothing in terms of military capacity without the U.S.. A weak U.S. President like Obama underlines that to exhaustion and both Putin and the Middle East terrorists knows that very well. Russian started a campaign of counter-information years ago financing extremist anti-european parties both right wing and left wing all over and we were all sleeping and very happy selling fruits and milk to Russia.

  69. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Europe is in the midst of the fire ring unfortunately there is no other means to defend themselves but fire

    • avatar

      LOL, sad but true.

  70. avatar
    Ed Cocks

    People who will not fight for their homes, families and way of life will get what they deserve.

  71. avatar
    Richard Osborne

    This will sound trite, but history has shown it to be true. The best way to ensure is to be prepared for war.

  72. avatar
    Cãlin Rednic

    Maybe because peacefull countries are always victims of those not so peacefull. I’m just saying.

  73. avatar
    Bogdan Maris

    Why??? Does the name RUSSIA ring a bell? Why hasn’t the defence been boosted earlier?

  74. avatar

    Swords or books? That has never been the question. So… books. Swords or plowshares? Plowshares. They give you more money to buy swords and can be used as wesoons. But engage in protectionist policies, halt the enlargement process, and you get an shrinking GDP. Yes, the next logic step is to increase military spending against the education budget. A few decades more and you will become North Corea. Our main problem is nottthe ring of fire but the explanation of why our neighbourhood has become a ring of fire… because in the midst of the crisis (and I mean 2003 centre European financial and industrial crisis) we have given up the lessons of the founding fathers and retorted to subsidies and tanks. We are now weaker and divided and heavily indebted.

  75. avatar
    Cristi Chiriac

    C?lineee…chiar a?a grei au fost anii petrecu?i n UM78? V?d c? ?i-au lasat o serioad? amprent? asupra ta……armat?….r?zboaie……militauri….arme…..sunt subiectele tale preferate….O s? se supere Gu?? pe tine……

    • avatar

      That’s good question. Europe’s history is plagued with war and horror and conquest. The relative peace is actually shorter than we thought.

  76. avatar

    I believe the matter is not about “either…or”. Defence and education are parallel lines which are all but mutually exclusive. The defence industry has been and still is among the strongest drivers of research and innovation. As the technological level of our society increased, so did research expenditure of private defence companies, cascading benefits of tech innovation in civil sectors where today many big aerospace and defence brands are increasing their share of investments. The integration of the european defence sector and market would allow enormous savings without lowering national budgets, while their inclusion in the education cluster would possibly drive to concerted private/public investments capable of filling the skills gap of European workforce and the talent bleeding of which many EU member states -such as mine, Italy- are suffering.

  77. avatar
    La Fed Ham

    America is in financial ruin and this compounded with the US shift towards the China threat means more and more troops will be sent to encircle China via Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. North East Asia is where the 3 great powers will collide and it will give the US the greatest chance to flex it’s military muscle but also secure trade and financial assets. A bolstered EDF would certainly complement the NATO pact for Western Europe.

  78. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    i think using any anti-testosteronic drug or injection for politicians who ofer psintoms would be much cheaper and effective … invest in giving methamphetamines to politicians and the peace will come much cheaper than any stupid plan like this one.

  79. avatar
    David Hardisty

    Imagine the scenario – Russia invades Sweden and Ireland (neither members of NATO). Without a doubt NATO would, stupidly, even though they were not prepared to support NATO countries, go to their support,. So to sum up each NATO country should pay 2% on defences even if it only to protect non NATO counties.

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      Why should Russia invade either Sweden or Ireland? The only country that ever invaded Ireland is now a NATO country and I am not aware that even during WW2 that either Ireland or Sweden were violated. This is just Cold War nonsensical fear created by the US under Truman and his successors so as to justify the military industrial complex. After WW2, the SU withdrew from Austria, Denmark and Iran and tried to work the Potsdam agreement, but the US and its sidekicks refused to do so. The US even put Reinhard Gehlen in charge of West German intelligence! At present c25% of the people in Estonia and Latvia are linguistically and culturally Russian, but they have no right to citizenship unless they become proficient in Estonian or Latvian. That is a legitimate concern for Russia and all minorities should have full human right. We need to work at reducing tensions between human beings…………………….even it that is not a temporarily profitable course of action.

  80. avatar
    Ezel Bayraktar

    Ugly truth is Europeans are off-shoring “hard power” issues to Americans since 1945. People are saying that spending more money on education in Europe will somehow deter Putin of Russia. Really?

    More importantly new generation of European politicians are talking like they are offspring of Chamberlain. Russia invaded Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and what EU do is giving its classical response. “We are (deeply/gravely etc) concerned”. What does EU do other than regulating size of tomatoes?

    Not only Europe’s military spending is pathetically low it is also very inefficient due to lack of single European army. Moreover spending money on military will also help Europeans’ effort against deflation in Europe.

    Socialized university system in Europe is already falling behind more privatized American and Japanese university system. You guys are wasting taxes on stupid research areas such as whether trumpet is a symbol of gender.

    • avatar

      Yeah, and when the Americans went rogue the Europeans complain the most. Well if you really disagree with the Americans, simply turn yourself into an adversary as Putin has done.
      European leaders should at least consider pooling their resources for like…now.

    • avatar
      Robert Bennett

      In 1954, SU Premier Khrushchev transferred the civil administration of Crimea to the Ukraine as a matter of administrative convenience. I have not seen any record of protest from US/NATO about that decision. When NATO recently staged the coup in Ukraine which overthrew the elected government, Russia could not really be expected to abandon Crimea to NATO? ‘spending money on military will also help Europeans’ effort against deflation in Europe’. I would prefer if we put the money into systematically reducing international and international tension and building a social society. I have been a victim of anti-Communist propaganda for most of my life and have only recently seen how dangerous US/NATO is in their destruction of the societies in South-West Asia (the British called it ‘The Middle East’). Fortunately, Russia had recovered sufficiently so as to be able to save Syria from total chaos and NATO control.

  81. avatar
    Venkatesha Honnapura Siddappa

    Yes, EUshould spent more defence budget for the purpose of peaceful forces but it does not include the military (hard power). EU must go soft power in the Global world. If it goes more dominant in global world defence is necessary. EU must move only soft power, not hard power.

  82. avatar

    It alarms me that so many people who are championing education over defence seem to know so little about history, current affairs and human behaviour! For me the answer is both matter, but if it came to a choice, I could self teach my daughter using the internet and some relatively cheap materials readily available from the shops. Being able to keep her safe from cyber terrorism, traditional terrorism and foreign invasion would be far more expensive and difficult to obtain the needed equipment. Just because Europe hopes to live peaceably doesn’t mean if Europe scrapped any and all military capability that war wouldn’t find Europe! What an absurdly naive notion. As for the benefit of education over military capability, as unfortunate as it is that people are injured or killed in war, through combating battlefield injuries medical advancements were made. Through attempting to have a technological advantage over enemies scientific advancements have been made (how useful is superglue right?) and speaking for the military of my own country at the least, how many integral skills do serving military personnel learn whilst being paid for it, such as hgv driving, motor mechanics, demolition, construction, medicine, and engineering? If the problem is that not enough money is available to spend on both frankly important aspects of society then I’d suggest the problem lies within the nature of money and economics itself.

  83. avatar
    Robert Bennett

    Perhaps the United States/NATO will invade your country if you have oil or some other commodity of value. Most likely they will get their multi-national to do the stealing, I know of no other countries which are into the invasion bussiness. Perhaps if millions of people were not killed in wars and perhaps if billions were not spent in preparation for wars, we would not have superglue. That would be a pity. Well, Switzerland did produce the cuckoo-clock. The primary skill and mindset given to soldiers is to obey orders to kill people whom their superiors tell them are the enemy. When Muhammad Ali refused to go and kill people in Asia he was punished by being deprived of his livelihood…………….in the country which claims to be the leader of the ‘Free World’.

  84. avatar
    Venkatesha Honnapura Siddappa

    The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) though was mentioned in earlier treaties came to be crystallised in the Treaty of European Union in 1992. This treaty represented a major step on the part of European Union (EU) and its institutional arrangements. The policy marked a significant leap forward in EU’s attempt to move beyond the traditional economic role in international affairs. The move is extremely important, for, it signified the intent of the EU to flex muscles into the external policy area which was hitherto confined to economic aspects. The move was conditioned by several factors, such as the end of Cold War, increasing international conflicts particularly in Central and Eastern Europe and, above all. The failure of the European Union to forge a common external posture, at a time when internal economic dynamics were consolidating. The move was not without opposition as refleted in the placing of CFSP in the second pillar of Maastricht Treaty of European Union, in which the decisions were intergovernmental. In other words, decisions on CFSP could be taken only the basis of consent and the communitarian principle evident in Economic and Monetary Union (first pillar) was not to be applied here.
    Notwithstanding, the adoption of CFSP was extremely important move. Although the edifice for common security was built in 1954 in the form of Western European Union (WEU).The WEU was dormant and was not seriously considered even when EU countries had to respond to security related issues. Most of EU members had taken shelter under NATO, and any proposal for European Security was countered by countries like Britain on the ground that such a move would undermine NATO and this was not in the interest of European countries. France and Germany, however, had kept the idea of European Security floating ,but the time became ripe only after the end of Cold War and EU decision to strengthen itself in the light of emerging challenges.
    The decision to incorporate Common Foreign and Security Policy dimension into the EU. In the Treaty on European Union (1992) was in fact a realisation, the economic capabilities of the European Union was inadequate to deal with inter-state political rivalries and to maintain global influence, it has to evolve common political and security perspectives as the intra –EU divide on external issues was affecting its own interests and proving difficult to sustain the internal economic unity.
    The security thinking was invigorated with the formulation of ‘European Security Strategy’ (ESS) in 2003 (updated in 2008) and gradual deployment of security related missions outside the geographical area of the European Union in pursuance of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). However the major milestone in CFSP is the Lisbon Treaty that among others, introduced changes in the decision making structure and introduced the post of the President of CFSP. Nevertheless, the CFSP in implementation continued to face problems in terms and clash of perspectives between the ‘Europeanist’ and ‘Atlantistics’ who sought a primary role for NATO in European Defence. Differences between the EU Member states cropped up often on international conflict areas such as Iraq, Libya , Afghanistan , etc. and on the level and nature of involvement in such areas.
    Therefore the CFSP remains central yet difficult area of the EU .The developments in CFSP have a for reaching impact even outside EU, for it demonstrates the growing political will of the EU to involve in global issues, and to shape the outcome according to its preferences .Further it symbolises of desire of the member states to act together and to instrumentalise EU in realisation of common objective.
    Through at present CFSP and its units are designed not to affect NATO, effectiveness of CFSP is likely to have a major impact on the NATO and future of European Foreign and Defence Policy. The evolution of CFSP at the community level is theoretically significant as it refersents on the willingness of nation states to go beyond the ‘national’ and pool the resources at the regional level, with implications on national sovereignty issues. It also signifies the changing nature of global order in which EU has become a major security actor along with others.

    • avatar
      George Yiannitsiotis

      The CFSP could not and can not answer adequately the principal military threat against the territorial integrity of the Hellenic Republic since it can not collide with NATO obligations. The CFSP could be CREDIBLE EU Defence only if all EU member-states recognize its predominance over NATO obligations, thus leading to a true EU common defence against e.g. Turkey invading Greek (EU) territory in Jan. 31, 1996 occupying for a couple of hours a small rocky island in SE Aegean Sea; or dettering the Turkish Airforce from entering the Hellenic (EU) airspace.

      At least for Greeks and Cypriots, the CFSP is nonsense without solving the key security question: the superiority of the EU defence mechanism over NATO obligations!.-

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