Thursday 20 September 2012 - 08:04

Top general warns EU member states of losing vital military parts

Story Code : 197026
Chairman of the European Union
Chairman of the European Union's Military Committee General Hakan Syren
"The military capabilities of the EU member states are on a steady downward slope," General Hakan Syren of Sweden told a seminar in Brussels on Wednesday.

Syren warned that many EU member states will not be able to afford key parts of their armed forces, such as air forces, in a few years.

"Looking a few years into the future, it is simple mathematics to predict that many member states will be unable to sustain essential parts of their national forces, air forces being the prime example," said Syren.

He further regretted that Europe has not yet managed to fix long standing deficiencies such as intelligence, precision-guided munitions, and air-to-air refueling.

The general cited the high cost of military operations, such as in Afghanistan and Libya, as another burden on European armed forces.

The EU’s outgoing top general criticized many member states for slashing their military budget and their failure to meet the bloc’s goal of allocating two percent of their economic output to military spending.

EU member states spend their defense budgets inefficiently, failing to strike a balance between various areas, Syren said, warning that Europe could be marginalized militarily.

    Three years ago, the total of defense budgets of EU member states was around 200 billion euros ($260 billion) a year, which would stand equivalent to the defense spending of China, Russia, Japan, India, and Saudi Arabia put together, he noted.

"We will soon see China as well as Russia on almost equal terms" with the EU if present trends continue, Syren warned, urging EU governments to respond by raising defense spending and by expanding military cooperation among themselves.