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Juncker's other challenge

The crisis and its budgetary constraints have simply accelerated Europe's disarmament.

Together Europeans now only spend 18% of the world's military appropriations against 30% 10 years ago. At the same time the world has stepped up its efforts by 65% to total 1,750 billion $. Europe only spends one third of what America devotes to its defence and emerging countries have rekindled the arms race.

Europe's relinquishment has certainly contributed to making the world less safe, opening the door to "stealth war" (little green men), to "frozen conflicts" that are mushrooming on our doorstep, to terrorism which is now openly challenging Western supremacy. The dangers were known but largely ignored. The threats are there but are many and under-estimated. Contrary to popular thought Europeans do now have enemies, those who think they are weak and who are acting to destroy the democratic principles and the respect of the individual which they believed they had peacefully conquered for a long time to come.

The build-up of these threats may put pay to this resignation and force the States to respond and do more together.

What is the situation with the European institutions that have not been able to move forward to date? The new president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker quite rightly wants to focus on reviving the European economy. But the international agenda may upset his priorities and he will have to adapt to this. The best way to do this would be to include the defence industries in his recovery plan and to open up new financing opportunities to sectors that help towards the defence of Europe. Most leading edge technologies are dual in nature, being both civilian and military. It seems quite urgent that we throw off the Brussels "civilian straitjacket" in terms of research. In addition to this European defence industries are efficient and the return on investment to their benefit would probably be faster than others.

Contrary to thought suggesting that Europe needs first to pool its military means we need long term financing, in the same way that other world powers do. Pooling would progressively follow. Contrary to what others might also believe unfortunately we always need strong armies to guarantee peace, that means armies able to face high intensity conflicts, on the sea, in the air and on the ground. Increasingly complicated piracy and trafficking, events in Syria and Iraq, the situation in Africa show this. And the six frozen conflicts that Russia keeps fuelling on our doorstep again show that it is not enough to have only patrol ships, lightweight reconnaissance planes or special forces...

Therefore we have to return to the wording of the Lisbon Treaty which noted the political and democratic incompleteness of the Union. Confirming that there cannot be a common European defence against - as Monnet and Schuman said - national interests it offers the Member States an opportunity to work together and obliges them to do this in way that they no longer do: to spend more for their security. To this end the new European Commission should not repeat the mistakes of the previous one which was exclusively focused on the single defence equipment market, which plays into the hands of our major competitors. It must focus on the incentives it can give to those who invest in research and the acquisition of the military equipment we are missing. The security of Europe depends on this.

The European defence market cannot be treated like the others since its clients are States. It has to take on board what other major powers are doing. It demands stable, secure, long term and often upstream financing. Hence a real revolution is needed on the part of the European institutions. Will Jean-Claude Juncker be able to do this? It will be the best way for him to respond to a real need for security to which the citizens of Europe will be increasingly sensitive, whilst achieving the rapid results he wants in terms of technologies, growth and employment. Everything is in place to do this. Many reports have pinpointed the technologies that are required for our security and the capability deficits of some armies are now public knowledge... We just have to have the will to do it before events oblige us to act.