The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sent a jolt of tension and anxiety throughout the European Union, as well as the rest of the world. Lawmakers and strategists scrambled to find a suitable response in the immediate aftermath and now, a year later, the conversation continues as to what the best course of action is for the EU. Should it amplify and radically increase its supranational defense budget and if so, how should it accomplish this monumental task? How much of it should fall on the Member States to meet the two percent threshold as laid out by NATO? The EU has come to a proverbial fork in the road. For decades, the EU has heavily relied on the United States for its military capabilities and provisions under the NATO umbrella. However, the current Russian aggression cannot be ignored or kept at arm’s length. This war has revealed a certain fragility within the EU’s defense infrastructure and as such, there are lingering questions. What precisely does the EU institutional leadership plan to do with its 8-billion-euro European Defence Fund (EDF)? Where does the European Peace Facility (EPF) fit in? How much variation is there among the national budgets? What is the quantifiable output of the EU private defense industry? Where is the divide between funding for research and development vs. that of acquisition and procurement in these European Commission-led efforts? This paper seeks to analyze these entities, as well as the responses of EU and national leadership. The EU has certainly taken productive steps in the past year to unify and project strength. Nevertheless, can the EU evolve to treating the US military as a true partner rather than a strategic fail-safe, as HR-VP Borrell and others advocate for? It will take years for experts to assess the overall impact of the war. In the meantime, it is important to consider what is unfolding in real time across national parliaments and in the European Commission. Russia does not show any signs of slowing down their assault on Ukraine. Where does that leave the EU? How can it respond in a timely, effective way without necessitating NATO’s primary involvement? Ultimately, the war in Ukraine has had terrible consequences, but it has also drawn attention to the supranational experiment’s precarious predicament.
"Never Enough: EU Military Spending Challenges in the Face of Open Conflict,"
The Journal of International Relations, Peace Studies, and Development: Vol. 8:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.arcadia.edu/agsjournal/vol8/iss1/4