Cyber-security is a greater challenge than ever, Jyrki Katainen (NCP), the European Commission's Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, stated during a lunch event organised by the Finnish Association of Political Journalists on Monday.
The European Commission, he pointed out, proposed last week that a joint defence fund be established specifically because of the continuing diversification of cyber-security threats.
Katainen estimated that member states cannot currently afford to develop their defence capabilities to the extent that is necessary due budgetary restrictions, the emergence of new threats and soaring defence technology prices.
China, Russia and the United States, meanwhile, are all spending considerably more on defence than Europe. “The United States is spending nearly twice as much on defence than all of Europe. China has increased its [defence] appropriations significantly over the past ten years – by as much as 150 per cent, according to some estimates. Russia is spending a large share of its annual resources on security,” he said.
Katainen added that he is particularly concerned about the insistence of every member state to develop their defence capabilities independently, thus hamstringing the development of defence technology in Europe.
“It's alarming that roughly 20 per cent of [defence-related] procurements are opened to international tenders. Roughly 80 per cent of defence procurements are more or less reliant on domestic suppliers,” he pointed out.
The European Commission has proposed that 25 million euros be earmarked for defence research in the budget of the European Union for 2017. It has also declared its intention to propose that an estimated 500 million euros a year be allocated for a dedicated defence research programme after 2020.
“We'd be spending 25 million euros from the EU's budget for next year on jointly-agreed defence research projects,” explained Katainen. “The budget allocation would rise to a total of 90 million euros until 2020, and it's our estimate that the need would be roughly 500 million euros a year after 2020.”
“If we're able to get to joint defence research projects of this magnitude, it'd probably promote security and develop the defence industry in Europe.”
The European Commission also proposed to allow the European Investment Bank to fund the development of defence technology more freely and to allow member states to co-operate in defence investments on a voluntary basis.
“When you're making procurements together, the unit prices will probably come down,” said Katainen.
For Finland, he added, the proposal would present a number of opportunities to further enhance defence co-operation with its fellow member states.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi