EU to Align Infrastructure Upgrades with NATO to Speed up Military Deployments
The European Union is going to align future investments in key transport infrastructure with NATO, thus accelerating the time for military deployments by individual member states and allies within the North Atlantic alliance, a European Commissioner has revealed.
Presently, a total of 22 of the EU’s 28 member states are also members of the 29-member military pact.
The EU and NATO see a “Schengen-style” approach towards European security and faster military deployments as increasingly crucial against the backdrop of Russia’s greater assertiveness in Eastern Europe since its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and the ensuing pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
The European Commission has now proposed EUR 6.5 billion for infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges which will make EU or NATO military deployments more efficient, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc has stated at a meeting with NATO ambassadors, the AP reports.
In her words, the future EU infrastructure investments will be utilized in what can be described as “dual use” projects. For example, upgrading a bridge so it could sustain military equipment if it also accommodates substantial civilian freight traffic.
“We will make sure… that our priorities are aligned and that we join forces to deliver a proper infrastructure for the entire EU. Of course, we will have to… align these strategies also with NATO,” Bulc said in March 2018 when the EC plan was first announced.
Other future EU measures of what has been described by pundits as a “military Schengen” because of conceptual approach similarities to the border-free Schengen Area could provide for upgrades at airports and ports as well as streamlining administrative procedures that could otherwise create delays for military deployments.
Senior NATO officials have been calling for the removal of transport barriers across EU and NATO member states, arguing that moving military equipment and units across Europe could take as many as 30 days because of red tape.
EU Transport Commissioner Bulc has made it clear that deciding which “dual use” infrastructure projects will be funded might will likely take about 18 months.
Thus, the funding under the plan proposed by the EC will be available to EU member states as of 2021.
The Commission’s plan is now to be submitted for approval to the EU member states and the European Parliament.
(Banner image: Günter Hentschel, Flickr)