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Media: European parliament party proposes EU create Defense Commissioner position

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 18, 2024 1:33 PM 2 min read
People walk past posters announcing the upcoming European elections, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France on Jan. 17, 2024. (Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images)
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The draft manifesto of the European People's Party (EPP), the largest party in the European Parliament, proposes the European Commission create an EU Defense Commissioner position to improve defense coordination in the bloc, Euractiv reported on Jan. 18.

Euractiv said it had seen a copy of the draft manifesto, which will be published ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections in June, and that the proposed reshuffle would radically change how the European Commission deals with foreign affairs and defense.

Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is currently the chief diplomat of the EU.

The separate post of Commissioner for Defense would take on tasks "currently shared by both the EU diplomacy boss Borrell as well as Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who has been in charge of the bloc's defense industry," Euractiv reported.

A Defense Commissioner would promote cooperation on defense issues and ensure that there is a defense budget of at least 0.5% of EU GDP, the EPP believes.

"Ultimately, we should create a Single Market for Defense," the draft manifesto states, according to Euractiv.

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren also called for a European commissioner dedicated to defense in an interview with CNBC on Jan. 17. "We cannot do it the old way," she said, referring to European defense production.

Breton has a "huge portfolio," whereas a European Commissioner could "dedicate almost all his or her time to dealing with this defense industry" and related issues like standardization, interoperability, and creating new funding for the industry, Ollongren said.

"What we need is more focus on the issue of the defense industry" at a European level, Ollongren said. "We have to step up production."

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba commented in November that Europe was unlikely to meet its pledge of delivering one million shells to Ukraine not due to a lack of political will, but a "lot of unsynchronized issues, a lot of bureaucracy."

The bloc's plan to ramp up shell production to boost Ukraine's artillery capabilities has been plagued by bureaucracy and protectionism of individual countries, an investigation by the Kyiv Independent and its partners revealed.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kuleba: ‘Europe doesn’t know how to fight wars’
Sitting down with the Kyiv Independent for an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine’s top diplomat is sharply dressed and in a good mood. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is among the last Ukrainian top officials who still prefers a suit to a military-style garb. He’s happy with the work his ministry has
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