State of the Union: Defence strategy as EU election campaigning begins

State of the Union: Defence strategy as EU election campaigning begins

Defence, security, autonomy. This vocabulary has become almost a mantra in the speeches of European Union (EU) leaders since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and this week the European Commission finally announced the first-ever defence industrial strategy.

Although it expands existing initiatives to jointly produce ammunition and acquire weapons, it will not create the €100 billion fund previously promised.

But it is a first step that can no longer be postponed, said EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell: "Unfortunately, peace is no longer a given. War is on our borders and Russia's war of aggression has brought a great sense of urgency to strengthen our industrial defence capabilities."

EPP, S&D hold their pre-election congresses

One of the people most likely to keep talking about this is the President of the European Commission, who will put defence at the top of her message in the run-up to the elections. Ursula von der Leyen was this week chosen by the European People's Party as its lead candidate at a party congress in Bucharest.

One of her opponents is one of her subordinates, the Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit. He was chosen at a congress of the Party of European Socialists in Rome a few days earlier.

Climate change, economic inclusion and the fight against populism feature prominently in both manifestos.

To discuss the strategies of the two main parties in the run-up to the June elections, Euronews spoke to Teona Lavrelashvili, an analyst at KU Leuven, in an interview conducted by Sándor Zsiros.

"It's not that they should give a simple solution to complex problems, but at least listen in such a way that voters and the electorate feel that their concerns are being taken into account. And those concerns are growing," she said.

"We're talking about the rising cost of living, migration, which is also becoming a problem in almost all EU member states. The problems are there, but I have my doubts about the extent to which a very concrete communication strategy will be adopted in this regard," she added.