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Cronberg: Nato missile defence system endangers European defence planning

22.5.2012

The current NATO summit agreed to launch the first phase of a missile shield to defend not only Europe but particularly the US from threats coming from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. Iran is often seen as the main enemy. At the previous Lisbon summit in 2010 the plan was to build the shield together with Russia. Since then the friendship has disappeared and the NATO is going on its own.

The plans come at a time when the defence budgets are under pressure. The Obama administration has promised to cut the US defence budget by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. The European governments are struggling with economic recession and the future of the euro. Tarja Cronberg, MEP and a member of parliament's subcommittee of security and defence is critical of implementing the missile defence under these conditions.

'The real costs of the system are not known. NATO has estimated that 200 millions are needed for IT and control software and estimates as high as 20 billions have been quoted before the system is in function. It would be cheaper to provide more security through negotiations in Bagdad on Iran's nuclear program and remove the threat of a nuclear attack',
underlines Cronberg who is also chair of the parliament's delegation for relations with Iran.

Cronberg further underlines that in order to counteract the rising defence costs the EU is promoting the concept of 'pooling and sharing'. The idea is to share military recourses in order to achieve a cost effective defence and avoid overlaps between member states' military capabilities. However, there is still a lack of cultural norms for co-operation and of coordination in strategic thinking. The missile defence plans are by no means facilitating this coordination and cooperation.

'There is an urgent need for Europeans to take a high level debate on the need for and the costs of a missile defence system with active involvement of HR Baroness Ashton. The main question is what are the overall costs of the system and are European governments ready to contribute in times of economic and financial crisis. Is it a cost effective solution increasing the security of Europe', asks Cronberg.

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