European Union unveils 5 billion euro common defense fund ‘to help security’

Vasiliki Varvaki | E+ | Getty Images

The European Commission has revealed its plan to strengthen the continent's military prowess.

After 2020, a 5 billion euro ($5.3 bn) annual investment fund would allow governments to develop assets together, while a separate research pot would receive as much as 500 million euros a year.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told reporters Wednesday that EU member states want the project to go ahead as a means to increase security while also saving money.

He also claimed countries traditionally opposed to the plan were now coming around.

"Some member states that have been traditionally quite critical to defense cooperation have to some extent changed their mind because they have seen that we are not changing treaties," he said in a press conference.

The European Commission claims that the lack of cooperation on defense and security between EU members is estimated to cost between 25 and 100 billion euros every year.


Trump threat

U.S. military Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters.
Source: U.S. Army
U.S. military Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters.

In 2015, the US invested more than twice as much as the total spending of EU Member States on defense, according to the commission's own data.

And during the U.S. election campaign, Donald Trump threatened to remove support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance if fellow members did not up spending.

Katainen said Wednesday the work towards enhanced military co-operation had been going on at an EU level for at least two years and was not a reaction to Trump's threat.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said if Europeans invest better on defense it will not undermine NATO.

"There is no competition, no duplication. On the contrary, this is joint work we are doing. That's why we have 3 pillars of our package. One of these three pillars is strengthening our cooperation with NATO," she said Wednesday.

And Mogherini said all current members of the European Union, including the United Kingdom, are backing the plan.

"Member states are, all 28, fully on board on this.

"A new level of ambition with a need to develop capabilities on a European level has been adopted by unanimity as always by the council, including the U.K. and all the other 27 member states," Mogherini said.