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Record EU defence spending masks failure to collaborate, report says -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO Flags are waved outside of the Alliance Headquarters in Brussels ahead of a NATO Defence Ministers Meeting, which took place October 21st, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photograph

Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS, (Reuters) – The European Union spent almost 200 billion euro ($225 billion) in defense in 2020. This is the highest amount since 2006 records started. However, joint investments by governments have fallen, according to the European Defence Agency’s (EDA), in a Monday report.

EDA is an EU agency which assists the bloc’s countries to build their military capability. It reported that the sum of all EU country spending, except Denmark, reached $198 Billion, up 5% from 2019.

It was 1.5% of 26 EU countries’ GDP. This is an encouraging figure for the U.S.-led NATO alliance that has aimed for a 2% goal for its allies. While most EU members have signed up for NATO, they would prefer to remain independent of the United States in times of emergency.

The advocates of stronger EU defense say there have been warning signs, starting with Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc and ending with Trump’s America First priorities. They also point out the failing states along Europe’s borders.

The EDA report found that there was a decline in collaboration spending in spite of an EU defense pact, which was signed late 2017. This pact aims to share resources and reduce competition among national industries.

Jiri Sedivy, Chief Executive of EDA, stated that “the downward trend in European collaborative spending was particularly concerning.” The report found an 13% drop in European equipment procurements compared with 2019, and a total value of 4.1 billion euros. This is the third lowest recorded figure by the agency.

Last year’s equipment purchases were dominated by EU countries. This was far short of the 2017 EU pact that promised to make sure that a little more than one-third of these procurements are done with Union member states.

Although the EU also established a joint weapons fund. This is working on 60 projects in the military and hopes to create a new rapid-reaction force. Investments in defence technology and research remain uncoordinated.

($1 = 0.8871 euros)

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