Prof. Markus C. Kerber shakes his head: “The EU is undermining national law.” What is currently happening is simply “outrageous,” says the professor for public finance and economic policy at the Technical University of Berlin to the eXXpress.
Brussels is providing arms and equipment to Ukraine through a new financing instrument, notably dubbed the “Peace Facility.” This was suggested a year ago by the High Representative for the European Union’s foreign and security policy, Josep Borrell. Since then, the EU has donated arms worth €3.6 billion to Kiev under the Peace Facility. Brussels has thus seized security policy, and illegally, as Kerber emphasizes emphatically.
After the Russian war of aggression, some NATO countries did not want to remain idle. The Netherlands, Estonia and other countries said they would now supply Kiev with defensive weapons such as anti-tank missiles. They also have the opportunity to do so, as NATO countries they can do so without any further ado. But then Josep Borrell intervened. At his suggestion, the Council of EU foreign ministers decided at the end of February to jointly purchase weapons and deliver them to Kiev.
Borrell’s choice of words was quite martial at the time: The measures would “aim to finance the delivery of lethal equipment to the heroic Ukrainian army, which is fighting with determined resistance against the Russian invaders”. At the end of the informal meeting of foreign ministers, Borrell announced that the EU would provide the Ukrainian army with weapons worth EUR 450 million and equipment worth EUR 50 million.
But that was not the end of it: Two weeks later, at the EU summit in Versailles, Borrell declared that he would once again supply the Ukrainian armed forces with weapons and equipment worth 500 million euros. After that, during his visit to Kiev, the EU chief diplomat promised to send additional weapons worth 500 million euros.
The Institute for Defense Technology, Armed Forces Economics and Geopolitics (IVSG), whose head is Prof. Markus C. Kerber, considers Borrell’s approach to be extremely questionable, and not just because of the “little problem-aware handling of arms deliveries to a warring party”. Russia could now “undeniably claim that by supplying arms to Ukraine, the EU is becoming a war party.” However, according to case law, defense and foreign policy must be treated as “necessarily national matters”.
The peace facility was created in March 2021. It was actually supposed to be used to finance seemingly “harmless” neighborhood policies in favor of third countries. The volume of money available: 5.7 billion euros. A year later, as a result of Russia’s war of aggression, Borrell “did not miss the opportunity of ‘solidarity with Ukraine’ to activate the peace facility in the form of arms deliveries to Ukraine,” criticizes the IVSG.
Prof. Kerber explains to the eXXpress: “From a legal point of view, the division of labor in the EU is clear.” Defense and foreign policy are solely a matter for the nation states. Only that country can decide how many weapons a country supplies – and to a war party at that – that does not belong to the competence of the EU. Borrell has broken with that. Since then, it has depended on the EU whether and which tanks a member state makes available as part of the EU arms deliveries. “The EU orders, the countries deliver,” says Kerber. In the meantime, the EU has even set up a training center for Ukrainian soldiers. “Actually, NATO should protest against it.”
The defense industry should be happy nonetheless. The EU is proceeding, as always, says Kerber: It is groping its way, offering money – “and then the companies always remain silent in the end”. It was similar when ordering the Covid vaccines, which EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen took on during the corona pandemic. The procedure at that time is also an example of how opaque the EU is. Von der Leyen has signed contracts worth 71 billion euros by the end of 2021. “To this day, no one knows what is in the contracts,” complains Kerber. “That’s incredible.”
It will be interesting to see how transparent the EU’s arms purchases will be or have been. The floodgates are wide open to lobbying by the arms industry.
A separate topic is Austria’s neutrality: not much remains of its original meaning.
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