Single charge: The European Union is working on coordinated actions

— Recently, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that new approaches to the expansion of the European Union are needed. In particular, she proposed to carry out the accession of the Balkan countries, Moldova and Ukraine through an accelerated procedure, without waiting for them to carry out all the necessary reforms. Is this just a proposal – or is a fundamentally new solution already being prepared?

— The expansion of the European Union is a very relevant and important topic. There are now a number of countries in the waiting room, some of which have already fulfilled the conditions. Turkey, for example, has been negotiating accession to the EU for almost 30 years. So solutions in this area are overdue.

But it should be taken into account that the accession of new states also has a financial dimension, because the new participating countries expect to receive more from European funds than they give. This redistribution of funds will, of course, affect the current recipients of the money.

In addition, the topic of enlargement is closely related to the problem of governing the European Union. Today it includes 27 countries with a population of 450 million people, and after a new wave of expansion the number of inhabitants will exceed half a billion. And there are doubts about the effectiveness of the fundamental principle of decision-making – consensus. After all, the veto of one country has repeatedly slowed down the adoption of important decisions and, accordingly, actions.

Therefore, voices are becoming louder and louder that decisions must be made by a majority vote. There is a proposal to proceed from the population size in the country. And if it turns out, for example, that two-thirds of the residents of the European Union support this or that proposal, then it is considered accepted.

However, to abolish the principle of consensus, it is necessary to amend the European Treaty, and this, in turn, can only be done by consensus. It is clear that such changes are categorically unacceptable for small countries – the Baltic countries, Malta, Cyprus, because it will allow them to be practically ignored.

Therefore, I would regard the statement of the head of the European Commission as part of her election campaign. After all, Mrs. von der Leyen has already announced her intention to retain the post of head of the European Commission.

— Recently, European countries are paying more and more attention to the development of the defense industry. How quickly can these changes be? And another question: how do you see Latvia’s place in the emerging defense infrastructure of Europe?

— Recently, the European Commission presented a strategy for the defense industry, which should increase the security of Europe and its ability to defend itself independently. This is a key turning point in the ideology and development of the European Union, because after the end of the Cold War, Europe significantly reduced its investment in the military industry. Now, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe has radically changed the previous paradigm as it faces an existential threat.

The European Commission does not support the creation of its own armed forces, in this regard still relying on NATO. The new strategy provides only for the production of military products.

According to the new strategy, one of the main goals is to ensure that by 2030 at least half of defense purchases are carried out at European enterprises, and by 2035, Europeans produce 60% of everything they need themselves. This, of course, will not be so easy to implement, because now almost 80% of weapons are purchased outside European countries, and we buy the lion’s share from the United States. It is important to note that all weapons and ammunition produced in European countries will comply with NATO standards.

So far, 1.5 billion euros have been allocated for the new strategy, which is not such a large amount, because creating a serious competitive production requires up to 100 billion euros. But a start has been made.

It’s not just about increasing military production. Today, every European country produces certain types of defense products – some shells, some machine guns. However, they are often incompatible with each other.

This reminded me of the situation with chargers for mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices. Their connectors vary in shape and size, so when you go on a trip, you have to take a whole collection of chargers with you.

It took a lot of time and effort to bring all this diversity to a common denominator. And from the end of 2024, chargers for all electronic devices will be the same. This is a big breakthrough that saves money, reduces costs and increases comfort.

Similar standardization, a kind of unified charging, is also necessary in the defense industry. It is not easy to implement it, because industrial enterprises are in private hands and there is competition between them. And just as the charger is only part of a complex device, so in this case the quality of the weapon is important. But this is the right way.

Latvia, in my opinion, is quite confidently striving to occupy its niche in the emerging system. It is planned to create a plant for the production of shells in our country – in cooperation with other EU countries and with the support of European funds. And these are jobs, taxes… This is positive.

— The European Union plans to transfer very large sums to Egypt for the maintenance of refugees who are striving for European countries. Is this a new approach or common practice?

— For quite some time now, the European Union has been allocating considerable funds to Turkey for hosting refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In essence, Turkey is protecting the EU’s borders, and although Ankara constantly complains about the insufficient European funding, this approach is bearing fruit, although it does not completely solve the problem. We know that many refugees are even sitting on the Latvian-Belarusian border, dreaming of penetrating beyond its borders.

And cooperation with Egypt in solving the problem of illegal migration is only getting better. An urgent need for it arose in connection with Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip.

For Europe, especially southern Europe, the problem of illegal migration is extremely acute. In all surveys, it consistently ranks among the top three sickest, so the new convocation of the European Parliament will also have to deal with it.

— These days, Latvian Minister of Transport Kaspars Briskens is in Brussels. Did you meet with him as vice-president of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament?

– No. He takes part in a summit of leading airlines and tries to find money for the construction of Rail Baltica. He looks like he’s trying not to be too conspicuous. This is how a mole digs holes in the dark, and it is unknown where on the surface a pile will appear…


Prepared with the support of the Progressive Alliance of Democrats and Socialists of the European Parliament.

About MEP Andris Ameriks and direct contact with him: #Single #charge #European #Union #working #coordinated #actions
2024-03-28 01:11:01

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