borrell16_KENZO TRIBOUILLARDPOOLAFP via Getty Images_special meeting defense spending KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Getting Serious About European Defense

At a recent summit to assess the European Union’s defense and security policy in response to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, the bloc’s leaders agreed that more pooled investment is urgently needed. With many of the necessary tools already in place, what is needed most now is the political will to follow through.

BRUSSELS – Russia’s war in Ukraine has forced the European Union to address longstanding strategic challenges. The most immediate task is to end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy imports, and this process is now underway, with a gradual oil embargo that will reach 90% by the end of the year.

More broadly, Europe must also develop an effective security and defense policy, as well as the capabilities required to implement it. While this ambition itself is not new, there is a fresh impetus for it. Russia’s war makes clear that we need a step change toward greater pooling of defense investments. That was the main conclusion from the European Council’s discussion about defense this week.

No two political problems are identical. Sometimes, a challenge seems so new and unprecedented that it cannot be addressed until there has been a proper assessment of a changed landscape. And sometimes, the solutions are known but the resources for them are lacking. The European security and defense debate falls into a third category: the diagnosis and prescriptions are clear, but there has been a deficit of political will.

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