Greece and Poland Ask EU to Create a Common Air Defense Shield

(Bloomberg) -- Greek and Polish leaders asked European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen to lead a charge to create a common air defense shield that would be financed by the bloc.

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The EU needs a new “flagship program,” such as a European air defense shield, Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, wrote in the letter, according to a person familiar with its content.

Von der Leyen blessed the idea in a post on X Thursday as she renewed her call for more common defense projects.

The two leaders are also asking for the issue to be discussed at the next EU summit at end of June. The letter was sent to von der Leyen on Thursday, said the person, who requested anonymity as it’s not public yet.

Mitsotakis raised the idea of a specific European defense initiative when he met with Tusk in Poland in April, a Greek government spokesperson told Bloomberg, who also confirmed the letter’s content. Both leaders signed in February a joint letter of support on behalf of the European People’s Party for the candidacy of von der Leyen to win a second term as commission president.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted the bloc to discuss ways to boost its joint defense, even as it is scrambling to provide additional military supplies, including air defenses, to Ukraine. This week, member states also green-lighted a plan to use profits generated by frozen Russian sovereign assets to support Ukraine’s recovery and military defense.

European leaders in March discussed the possibility of issuing joint bonds in order to fund defense expenditures. They’re waiting for the commission’s report that will provide some specific funding options.

Read more: EU Leaders to Discuss Buying Fewer Weapons From Foreign Firms

Now, Mitsotakis and Tusk are proposing the creation of a comprehensive air defense system that would be able to protect the EU’s common airspace against incoming threats such as aircraft, missiles and drones, according to the letter.

Developing and financing a major unified European defense project at the European level would send a clear signal that Europe is united and determined to act in self-defense, they added.

Poland spent 3.92% of its gross domestic product for its defense in 2023 and Greece just above 3%. Along with the U.S. they are the three top spenders within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

A European air defense shield would also have a substantial multiplying effect by acting as a catalyst and facilitator for the further upgrading of Europe’s defense and security industries, and for a considerably higher degree of cooperation and joint projects, Mitsotakis and Tusk wrote.

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