EU promotes new defense program

China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2024-03-20 17:51:59

By Liu Leina

On March 5, the European Commission announced its first-ever European Defense Industrial Strategy (EDIS) , aiming to drive investment in armaments through defense industry restructuring and expedite the implementation of its new version of defense program (hereinafter referred to as the "program"). Foreign media remarked that the introduction of the program closely following the EDIS reveals EU’s intention to hasten arms deficiency remediation, foster cutting-edge technologies and enhance the overall military strength of Europe under the guise of industrial development.

According to the draft program disclosed by foreign media, the EU will achieve the goal of purchasing more than 50% of their weapons system from within the alliance by 2035 and establish corresponding mechanisms to ensure the immediate accessibility of core technologies or key components in case of shortage or crises, thereby changing the unfavorable situation of purchasing most military equipment from third countries.

The European Commission will establish a new Defense Industrial Readiness Board  mainly designed to coordinate investment financing and promote defense cooperation between European countries. In terms of defense capabilities, the European defense-industrial complex will manufacture munitions and drones on a large scale, strengthen combat capabilities in the cyber and space fields, and prioritize projects such as Cyber Shield , European integrated air and missile defense systems, and space threat sensing systems.

According to the draft program, the EU countries will procure their demanded equipment and technologies under the framework of the European Defense Fund , with a view to achieving stable operations and speedy deployment of rapid reaction forces  by 2025, and significantly improving strategic transport, force protection , cyber defense, satellite communication, and intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities.

Meanwhile, the EU and NATO will foster coordination and complementarity in the defense field based on the principle of building a single force. The EU officials emphasized that both NATO and the EU will benefit from ramping up defense industry investment and boosting armament resilience.

In respect of specific military operations, the EU will facilitate and accelerate unobstructed movement and transit of NATO’s personnel, weaponry and other materials for military deployment. Furthermore, it will continue the relevant operations in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf and reconfigure the troops' application patterns from anti-piracy and peacekeeping roles to a broader set of maritime security actions, thereby achieving coordination and alignment with NATO troops in terms of task division and operations. In the cyberspace and outer space fields, it will increase investment, leverage its cutting-edge technologies, lift military soft power, and jointly address various threats with NATO.

It is believed that the new version of EU program fundamentally targets at expanding defense investment, strengthening military construction, and enlarging armament size. However, its effectiveness remains to be observed considering the timing and the situations.

One the one hand, Europe is beset with internal disunity and discord. Recently, France and Germany, the two bellwethers of the EU, have exhibited overt divergences over issues such as the defense integration patterns and the outward-oriented development of European armaments. There is also a disparity in the attitudes regarding the military-industrial complex  between New European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic and Nordic countries like Sweden and Finland. In addition, EU countries are divided over their inclinations toward investment. As a major costly defense project of the EU, the program will see a reemergence of contradictions around defense allocations even with a consensus within the EU.

On the other hand, the program is also deemed as unfavorably timed. With the arrival of elections in various EU and NATO countries this year, the implementation effectiveness of the program may be impacted due to the political and diplomatic uncertainties. For example, Donald Trump's possible reentry to the White House has sparked strategic anxiety in many European countries, as under the egoistic "America first" policy advocated by his administration, the EU can hardly count on NATO to deliver effective security protection. Other analyses indicate that the EU is more like a "merchant" that constantly arms itself with military strength but has not formed effective command relations. The EU’s quick response force is structured but lacks a significant presence, whose limited military capabilities and armament resources can only serve as NATO's military corps in Europe during wartime.

Editor's note:  Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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