In our Dear Citizens letter, we described our main EPP priorities in terms of hi-tech security and counterterrorism systems to keep our European ‘house’ safe. And these are some of the main issues many of our fellow citizens have shared concerns with us about. We as the EPP are committed to developing and strengthening our resilience as well as our ability to confront threats; this will mean not just more spending but smarter spending, so we avoid duplications and waste.
The main concerns expressed by citizens are reflected in comments like those of Daniel, who says that "More military integration could be good since we pull our resources to increase everyone’s quality of military. I think the EU spends more than the USA on defense yet our combined armies are weaker than [theirs]." Or in the comments of Chris, who would like to see "EU military to help with [the EU’s outer defence borders]." Or in Franz’s and Mira’s concerns over the terrorism risks associated with mass migration, or Jurriaan’s clear statement: "I don’t want your total police surveillance state, imported terrorism & 3rd world problems."
These citizens are hitting on exactly the right issues. On the subject of collective defence, we as the EPP have long called for greater investment on the part of Member States, as well as by NATO members as they move towards fulfilling their targets to spend 2% of GDP on defence. And we are delivering in our support for the creation of a European Defence Fund, an initiative currently being worked out in the European Commission.
As EPP President Joseph Daul said in a 7 June press release, “The development of joint research efforts, new joint capabilities among EU countries and the creation of a European Defence Fund will put Europe on the right path towards strengthening its position both at home and abroad. It will also reinforce our cooperation with NATO and avoid unnecessary duplication. The EU will need to create synergy effects within a coalition of the willing (permanent structured cooperation), a civil-military headquarters and a common approach to research, development and procurement of military equipment.” More on our EPP positions on this topic can be found in our 2017 EPP Malta Congress resolution on security and defence.
To address the critical issue of terrorism, we as the EPP are calling for stronger controls of Schengen’s external borders — by improving access to existing databases and by increasing and enhancing the human resources and technical equipment currently available at the borders; this will help to ensure effective controls, including for arms, while still ensuring free movement within the EU.
We are also calling for better collaboration and exchange of information between Europol and the security and intelligence services of all Member States. And we are calling for several measures to fight radicalisation — for example, in Muslim communities and in prisons — and to prevent the development of parallel societies. More on these and other policy ideas can be found in our 2017 Malta Congress resolution entitled "For a cohesive society: Countering Islamic extremism".
Security and defence are the main responsibilities of any government or party. The EPP family is working every day to improve policies strengthening the EU’s borders and fighting terrorism in all the various stages of its development. We will continue to make defending the EU ‘house’ our first priority.