‘The EU is a worldwide payer, not a worldwide participant’: EP Foreign Affairs committee chief McAllister | EUROtoday

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Talking Europe interviews the chair of the European Parliament’s overseas affairs committee, David McAllister. He believes the European Union has been too cautious for too lengthy, and has not proactively outlined and defended its pursuits on the planet. He argues that one strategy to obtain that’s to maneuver to a fully-fledged Defence Union over the approaching years. McAllister is a German Christian Democrat and a staunch supporter of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who’s hoping to steer the Commission for a second five-year time period.

“What we will see in the next years in the European Union is that we will take concrete steps towards a European Defence Union,” McAllister says. “That means ramping up our defence industry production in Europe. We have to do more research together. We need to purchase much more together. We need to spend our taxpayers’ money more efficiently. Let’s try and do as much as possible at a European level. At the moment, 80 percent of defence procurement is still taking place at a purely national level. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. That’s why I also welcome proposals which have now been made by different political parties in Europe, for a European Commissioner with a dedicated portfolio for security and defence. We also need a defence ministers’ format. At the EU level, the main focus should be on establishing a European single market for the defence industry.”

McAllister elaborates on the position {that a} future EU Security and Defence Commissioner would play. “The fields this man or this woman would be dealing with are shared on the one hand with the High Representative [for foreign and security policy] and, on the other hand, with the Commissioner who holds the industrial portfolio,” McAllister explains. “It’s about bringing the 27 EU member states together. Planning activities and also coordinating closely with NATO. The European Defence Union, which we are working on, is like a puzzle with 5,000 pieces. The frame has been set in recent years with a permanent structured cooperation with the European Defence Agency, and with the European Defence Fund. But now we need to have more pieces and put them together in an intelligent way.”

We put it to McAllister that, beliefs apart, the EU doesn’t converse with one voice – because the Gaza disaster has proven. “Well, the European Union is a family of 27 sovereign nations,” he solutions. “And on certain fields we have different views. For instance, on the Israel-Palestine conflict or on Serbia and Kosovo.  But we also need the tools to implement our common foreign and security policy. The soft power tools are already there. They are available. But we need to have more hard power tools. The aim is for us as the European Union to become a real global player. We are a global payer. For instance, we give by far the most for development cooperation. But we are not a global player. We do not have the same level and eyesight as other players like the United States or China.”

We ask for McAllister’s response to EU Commissioner Thierry Breton criticizing his personal boss, President von der Leyenand questioning whether or not she has the help of her personal political get together, the EPP.

“I was quite surprised about Mr. Breton’s tweet,” McAllister responds. “Ursula von der Leyen got more than 80 percent in a secret ballot. Look, the big difference with the Socialists is that they nominated their lead candidate in an open vote. I mean, it’s easy to get 100 percent if it’s by acclamation. We had a secret ballot, and she got an honest result. At the party congress in Bucharest, very few national delegations said that they were sceptical. The huge majority is carrying her, and I’m very convinced that she will be the European Commission president for another five years, because she’s done a good job the first five years,” he concludes.

Programme ready by Sophie Samaille, Perrine Desplats and Isabelle Romero