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‘EU army’: Bloc launches £5bn ‘off-budget’ defence fund to send ‘weapons’ globally

express– The £5billion European Peace Facility will see the bloc gain powers for the first time to send military aid and equipment to foreign conflicts. The fund, announced by Josep Borrell, High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy this week, is set to increase the EU’s role in international conflicts

But critics claim the fund shows the bloc is controversially shifting their policy towards a more militarized approach, just as the UK’s transition period ended.

The fund has been dubbed “off-budget” and would not have been a directly open contribution to the UK’s annual contribution to the EU.

ONS figures reveal the UK’s gross contribution to the EU amounted to £20 billion in 2018 a settlement of £25billion left to pay by 2057 after Britain left the bloc.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), almost £18billion of which will be paid in the first five years.

In a speech to MEPs in Brussels on Tuesday, Mr Borrell said the new fund and strategy would make the EU more “effective” and allow Brussels to “respond better to partners’ needs” defence wise.

Under the scheme, the new fund and project will allow Brussels to enhance it’s defence missions with the “supply of military and defence-related equipment, infrastructure or assistance” on request.

The project was initially proposed by former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in 2018 and would develop EU missions in countries across the world including Libya, Mali and Somalia.

In Mali, the bloc runs a training mission in support of a campaign by government and French forces against militant Islamist groups

The EU Commission said of the EU’s Military and Civilian operations: “The European Union has undertaken many overseas operations, using civilian and military instruments in several countries in three continents (Europe, Africa and Asia), as part of its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

“Each EU mission works in the framework of a comprehensive approach and the decisions of deployment and management of the mission are taken by the EU countries during the Foreign Affairs Council.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas claimed the funds would allow the bloc to “contribute to the resilience of partner countries in Africa and the neighbourhood”.

He added: “The EPF is a fundamental investment in peace and stability that will allow the EU and its partners to effectively and flexibly address international crises.”

Lucia Montanaro, head of EU office at NGO Saferworld, said: “The decision to provide arms and ammunition under the EPF represents a fundamental shift in EU foreign policy, from promoting peace and human rights to boosting the combat capability of repressive states and unaccountable security forces.

“There is a high risk that arms and ammunition provided under the EU flag will be misused or diverted into the wrong hands.”

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