European defence in times of austerity: are budget cuts a threat or an opportunity?
European countries’ defence budgets are shrinking under the pressure of the spending reviews, in contrast with a global defence expenditure that is on the rise and the multiplication of common security threats. However, many stress that budgetary cuts might prove an opportunity to speed up the defence integration in Europe through pooling and sharing and smart spending, as witnessed by many bilateral agreements within the EU aimed at reducing fixed costs such as redundant personnel and infrastructure. But is there the concrete risk that joint defence could be used as a pretext for less defence? How will this affect the consolidation process envisaged for the EU’s defence industry in the years ahead? And above all, how to overcome national resistance to pooling and sharing without the concrete identification of basic common interests, as witnessed by the Libyan experience?