European defense is recognized as one of the priorities by all the countries of the Old Continent, however the path towards its construction remains complex. Even Paris and Berlin are struggling, while the unknowns linked to the decisions of our country remain
Although the appeals to the need and urgency for Europe to finally build its own security dimension, the process for the construction of a common defense is slow to accelerate. Recently, in an open letter, ten experts from the Old Continent recalled that if Europeans “want to become a credible player on the international security scene, they must do and spend more together. And they have to do it now ”. Furthermore, the tensions between the two continental forerunners, Germany and France, are at the center of the question, which after a long period of alignment are now increasingly at loggerheads on various dossiers.
Paris has recently released its National Strategic Review, with which it intends to define the needs in view of the law on military programs until 2030. The image of France returned by its president, Emmanuel Macron, it is that of a country “autonomous in its assessments and sovereign in its decisions, respected for its status as a nuclear power, the engine of European strategic autonomy”. For the president, among other things, France is the “rock” of the European Union, as the only nuclear power left in the EU. “France wants to lead the development of European sovereignty”, Macron explained, adding that “today more than ever, the vital interests of France have a European dimension”.
The obstacles according to the industry
The French commitment is not new, with the president who in June launched a “revaluation of the budget to be dedicated to defense” that should have led France towards a real “war economy”, in the words of the president. But the process is far from easy. Convened by the Ministry of Defense, the French industrialists reminded the government of the obstacles that stand in the way of reaching the goal set by the executive to “produce more, faster and at controlled costs”. Faced with the Elysée concerns about the nation’s ability to deal with a conflict, the industry’s response was clear: give us more orders and a long-term vision, and we will increase our production rates.
The European budget grows
Above all, Paris’s commitment to further increase the GDP budget to be allocated to Defense to 2% remains absolutely unchanged, a trend that is now consolidated in the rest of Europe. Madrid, where NATO’s new Strategic Concept was signed in June, has also decided to further increase defense funds this year, increasing the budget allocated by Congress by over three billion. A surprise instead from Berlin, where after the acceleration of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was the first European capital to set the 2% target, also adding the creation of a fund of one hundred billion to be dedicated to Defense. Now, however, Germany is preparing for a reduction in the budget allocated for 2023.
The difficulties of Germany
Germany urgently needs to modernize its armed forces, which have been hit by decades of under-investment. A policy inherited from the Second World War. Now, faced with the Ukrainian emergency, Berlin must recover quickly, but it does not necessarily have the resources. The so-called reorganization law, the German government’s draft for next year’s defense budget, sent to the Bundestag does not in fact reconcile with the ambitions expressed by the chancellor Olaf Scholz. Indeed, it goes in the opposite direction, allocating 50.1 billion euros for the Bundeswehr for 2023, compared to 50.33 billion in 2022, while the share of GDP remains around 1.5% of GDP.
In this general scenario, there is still no clear commitment from Italy. Our country has taken on the goal of reaching the 2% target by 2028, a date further back than that decided by other European countries. Some steps have already been taken, with the increase in the budget allocated to the Armed Forces set by the last Multi-annual Program Document (Dpp) of the Defense for the three-year period 2022-2024 to 18 billion euros. An increase compared to 16.8 in 2021, in turn increasing compared to past years. Whether this trend will be maintained, or even accelerated, by the new executive remains to be seen.
The difficulties of Europe put to the test of defense. It’s Italy?