Faced with Putin, Europe’s giant leap in defense – L’Express

Faced with Putin Europes giant leap in defense – LExpress

This is the only positive news from the Russian war of invasion in Ukraine: the awakening of a European Union which is mobilizing and moving forward with giant steps. In two years, its leaders brought about an intellectual and political revolution. They moved from market politics to power politics. To preserve the peace to which we aspire, we must be ready to wage war, all together, against the one who declares it to us. The imperialism and hegemony of Vladimir Putin, who displays both territorial and ideological ambitions, a war of conquest and a war “against the West”, forces us to question the pacifism which governed European construction. , built on the trauma of two world wars and on the old idea, stemming from Montesquieu, according to which peace and the resolution of conflicts arise from trade between nations.

The European Council of March 22 and 23 in Brussels, renamed the “war summit”, demonstrated a unity and determination that will go down in history. After a few adjustments and despite their differences, Paris and Berlin are aligned on the objective and determined to be so. The summit even triggered a “Copernican revolution”, in the words of Emmanuel Macron: the joint adoption of the European program for the defense industry (Edip) proposed by Thierry Breton, the Commissioner for the Internal Market and Defense. This program aims to stimulate the production of weapons and military equipment on the EU market and thus transition European defense industries to a war economy.

READ ALSO: Russia: how the defense industry is putting itself on a war footing

“Orban, we will manage him like that,” one of the people involved in the matter assured me about the Hungarian Prime Minister, still hostile to aid to Ukraine. And Viktor was handled. Even this Putin ally is in no way opposed to a “revolution” that will benefit his economy. Edip, these are orders in perspective for the arms industries, as many jobs created and stimulation of national economies. Neither he nor his friend Robert Fico, Slovak Prime Minister also loyal to the Kremlin, even opposed the decision to add an additional 5 billion euros to the European Peace Facility, nor to that of allocating interest to it. generated by Russian assets frozen by the EU (3 billion per year).

How to finance Edip? The possibility of a new large common European loan of around 100 billion euros, based on the model that enabled the post-Covid recovery plan, is no longer taboo. This is also a crucial question, and therefore a major step forward. Only Germany and the Netherlands are still reluctant, but they could eventually be convinced by the Baltic countries and Finland, their “frugal” counterparts, who themselves support the idea put forward by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Another avenue considered by the Commission is to extend the mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB), which was not originally allocated to financing defense industries.

Collective burst

The game, of course, is not won. Hurry up. The shortage of ammunition, missiles and decisive weapons is strangling the Ukrainian army on the ground. The sending to Ukraine of more than a million shells purchased by the EU from third countries, at the initiative of the Czech president, is intended to compensate for European slowness for the next few months. The emergency is also suspended from the European and American electoral calendar, and from the fragility of public opinion.

READ ALSO: Kaja Kallas: “Faced with Putin, Europe will not weaken”

Ukraine is paying with its blood for a war in which Europe’s existence is at stake. Emmanuel Macron is playing history – and, in the meantime, the European elections of June 9. He can be the president who advances the cause of European sovereignty, and makes it the identity of his Renaissance party in Brussels. After his Sorbonne speech in 2017 which exposed it, then the “Versailles strategic compass” adopted by the European Council in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the collective burst of spring 2024 is a decisive third step.

Marion van Renterghem is a senior reporter, winner of the Albert-Londres prize and author of “Piège Nord Stream” (Arènes)