“Today, we dare to do things differently from the past. We are making defence cooperation the norm, not the exception. This is the smart and the efficient way to invest in our defence. It is the only way to make the most out of the resources we spend, and also to strengthen our defence industry, all across Europe, the big industries and the small and medium enterprises in all Europe. It is the only way to treasure the great human capital represented by our men and women in uniform, serving under the European flag,” she said at the opening of the European Tactical Airlift Centre, in Zaragoza, Spain. “Step by step, I'm convinced we are finally heading towards a European Union of security and defence.”
One year ago, the High Representative launched the EU Global Strategy, which set a new level of ambition for the EU’s role in the field of defence. That was followed by the European Defence Action Plan, and the EU-NATO Joint Declaration at the Warsaw summit. On Wednesday, the European Commission officially established the European Defence Fund, which will support military related research and Europe’s defence industry. And today, Member States agreed to launch the first single command centre for EU military training and advisory missions, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability.
“The inauguration of this European Tactical Airlift Centre is part of this impressive progress. We want a credible European Union of security and defence. We are building all together a credible Union that can truly contribute to the security of European citizens. A Union that is a global security provider, answering to the call that we hear, more and more, from our global partners all around the world.”
Only six years ago, European countries that wanted to train their airlift crews had to send them to the United States. The establishment of the Airlift Centre will mean that this capacity now exists within the EU.
“Because Member States remain the leading actor on European defence. But what we achieve together, would be impossible for any Member State alone. This is not theory, it's very concrete as we see here today,” the High Representative said.
“If European countries want to spend better on defence, and I think they all want to, the best and most effective way in which they can do that is through European cooperation. Because when it comes to working and spending together, the European Union can provide Member States with the incentives to do so – be it on innovation, research or capability development. This is the added value of the European Union: incentives, spending together, investing together, training together.”