THE EU is set to move one step closer to the creation of a so-called EU Army today when a top commissioner unveils a new £17billion defence scheme today.
Brussels has accelerated its EU Army project since the Brexit vote, with Guy Verhofstadt stating in September “we need it and NATO wants it”.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the European Union’s industry commissioner, is today travelling to Stockholm, Sweden, to meet top defence chiefs from the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe.
She is expected to unveil a £17 billion fund - including £5.5 billion set aside solely to aid military mobility through Europe.
Ms Bieńkowska will announce: “The EU is ready to invest €13 (£11.37) billion in Europe’s defence sector post-2020. This is a game changer.
“The European Defence Fund will help reducing duplication and increase efficiency of public spending in defence.
“The goal should be producing better equipment for our militaries so we can keep Europe safe in an increasingly uncertain world.”
It comes amid a growing Brussels charm offensive across Europe in a bid to improve support for an EU Army.
In September last year Guy Verhofstadt travelled to London, where he told a crowd of several hundred people at the London School of Economics the long-rumoured army was inevitable.
He said: “It was Jean-Claude Juncker who said at the state of the union address a few weeks ago ‘by 2025 we need a full-fledged European defence union - we need it and NATO wants it’.
“That was what he said - and I said: ‘finally!’”
He said the low-spending and inefficient nature of the bloc’s many armies were not suitable to face the challenges of 21st century Europe.
Mr Verhofstadt said: “Because why? Because combined, the 28 European armies in Europe spend more or less 40-45 per cent of the American defence budget.”
He said the EU’s separate militaries were also “four times less efficient” than the American army, even when comparing the forces on a euro-by-euro basis.
Mr Verhofstadt said: “That is the reality and it is normal because the 28 member states do 28 times the same thing.
“What we really need is a European defence union. Call it a ‘European Army’, call it what you want but it is the way forward.”