MILITARY MOBILITY. The Commission’s latest non-paper on the bloc’s next seven-year budget put forward in February has revealed the threat to hamper flagship defence initiatives more than previous proposals. Some MEP’s are not impressed and have written a letter to EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, seen by EURACTIV, arguing that the current COVID19 crisis has demonstrated the added value of military mobility in response to civilian crises.
“The military mobility in Europe would provide for increased flexibility for prompt action in preventing and responding to crises, demonstrate the resolve of EU and NATO to potential geopolitical adversaries and also would be instrumental for delivering aid in civilian crises,” write MEPs Rasa Jukneviciene (EPP) and Attila Ara-Kovacs (S&D).
DEFENCE BUDGETS. Europe’s armed forces are rightly being applauded for their efforts in limiting the disastrous effects of COVID-19, but the test of whether European militaries are truly valued will be measured over the next few years as pressure on defence budgets mount, write Daniel Fiott, Torben Schütz, and Marcin Terlikowski in an op-ed for EURACTIV.
NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has encouraged members to maintain their military spending despite the economic shock of the pandemic, suggesting that military can play a role in helping to mitigate the crisis. He also told EURACTIV military capabilities are also relevant in dealing with a health crisis.
COVID-19 DISINFORMATION. A forged letter purporting to be from the NATO Secretary-General to the Lithuania’s defence minister Raimundas Karoblis has been making rounds this week, according to which the Alliance allegedly decided to withdraw the NATO battlegroups on the Eastern Flank due to a heavy pandemic outbreak amongst its troops.
“This letter is fake. NATO is committed to maintaining its presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, including with four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – no troop withdrawals are under consideration,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told reporters.
“This fake letter shows the importance of being vigilant for ongoing disinformation campaigns and NATO will continue to work closely with Allies and partners to identify, expose, and counter disinformation,” she added.
PEACE PROCESSES. As Europe takes tentative steps to ease the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, it cannot neglect the virus’ potential to wreak havoc in the poorest and most fragile states around the world, writes Michael Keating in an op-ed for EURACTIV.
The calls for more engagement in peace efforts comes after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that in countries stricken by conflict, where health systems have already collapsed, “the worst is yet to come”.
GERMAN JETS. Berlin confirmed it aims to replace its ageing fleet of Tornado fighter-bombers with aircraft from both European manufacturer Airbus and US-based Boeing, eager to balance European and American alliances via its military aircraft-buying scheme. But the decision to move ahead with the US purchases has angered some politicians who have complained of a lack of transparency.