Europe must spend more on defense, Metsola says

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The European Union must “step up” its defense capabilities and be ready to face threats without the support of its long-time security partner the United States, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said Monday.

Europe needs to spend more on defense to “strengthen our defense industry and get practical about our strategic autonomy,” Metsola said, but stressed a European “defense union” should be “complementing, not competing with NATO.”

“[The EU] must be ready to shoulder the responsibility if necessary and be ready for any eventuality,” Metsola told POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook.

“Europe cannot waver, when we see what could happen across the Atlantic … Europe needs to stand strong,” she said.

Her comments came after former U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that he would “encourage” Russia to attack any NATO member that didn’t pay enough for defense, sparking outrage across Europe.

As for the European Parliament’s role in arming the EU, Metsola said MEPs would continue pushing for joint procurement and development of weapons to be “financed by the Union through a dedicated budget under parliamentary co-decision and scrutiny.”

The bloc’s military spending reached a record €270 billion in 2023, according to EU Council President Charles Michel, in the face of Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Metsola’s sentiment echoes that of Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party, who told Playbook last month that the EU “must be able to defend itself independently.”

Weber called for “a European pillar of defense,” including an EU-wide “missile defense system” and a “cyber defense brigade” to fend off attacks from Russia and elsewhere. Weber also said it was time to talk with France about how the country’s nuclear defense “can be embedded in European structures.”

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