European leaders kept talking about defense, compiling and negotiating documents like the “Strategic Compass of the EU,” while the United States increasingly took a back seat in its presence and influence in Europe’s neighborhood.
The war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call for European countries, alerting them to the reality that defense matters. But do some recent promising steps in the right direction actually signal a revival of the European Union’s drive for strategic autonomy and a security and defense union? And will it lead to greater defense cooperation and integration? In terms of European defense capacities and operational activities, it is a mixed bag, at best. The European Defence Fund was designed to induce joint European defense research and capability development, serving both the aim of spending more and, more importantly, of spending better and therefore spending together.