The German lawmaker declared on Monday afternoon that she would like to serve as head of the European Commission for a further five years. The announcement puts an end to weeks of growing conjecture and intensifies the presidential contest in advance of the European Parliament elections.

Von der Leyen is adamant that one of the most important and structural goals of her second mandate would be defense if she is re-elected. Before Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and forced the Europeans to face their inadequacies and weaknesses, defense was for years a low-key policy topic in Brussels.

The bloc is also on high alert due to the internet influx of false information, deepfakes, and illegal content, especially during elections when despotic foreign countries actively try to sway voters and mold favorable results

“Ensuring the safety and security of our democracy is the most crucial aspect,” von der Leyen stated to Euronews.

Von der Leyen’s team is working to centralize greater powers in the industrial side of defense, even though military choices are still solely the responsibility of member states. A strategy that will shortly be unveiled—and which the Financial Times first revealed—will provide new instruments for increasing output, coordinating procurement, and implementing subsidies.

“Europe has gotten stronger because we all understand how important it is to have sound security spending and be able to provide security and to defend ourselves,” von der Leyen stated.

“We must invest more money. We must spend more wisely. And I believe that in order to strengthen our defense industrial base, we need to spend more in Europe.”

Following Donald Trump’s recent remarks, which indicated that, should he win a second term as US president, he would “encourage” Russia to attack any NATO member that did not meet the required spending of 2% of GDP on defense, Europe has an even greater incentive to strengthen its defense capabilities. Leaders in the West were incensed by Trump’s remarks, which also cast doubt on the alliance’s long-term sustainability.

With 22 members in common, NATO and the EU are closely related to each other’s future.

In an interview with Euronews, von der Leyen stated, “The European Union is of the utmost importance for the NATO alliance.” “But I think it’s important that we do our own homework, that we fulfil our tasks.”

Von der Leyen noted, though, that security needs to be viewed holistically. During her presidency, the notion of “de-risking” in dealing with China was adopted, and comprehensive plans to phase out Russian fossil fuels were introduced.

We also put a lot of effort into securing our financial future. Our efforts to achieve energy security are intense. We have increased our energy independence by diversifying our energy sources and making significant investments in domestic renewable energy.”

By xplora

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