European defense and "strategic autonomy,quot; are also victims of the coronavirus

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BRUSSELS – The coronavirus has altered the best-established plans and priorities of many, including the European Union. But one of the biggest victims may be European efforts to build a more credible and independent European army.

For several years, especially since President Trump took office with his skepticism about NATO, European alliances, and multilateral obligations, leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron have been pushing for what he has called European "strategic autonomy," the ability to defend Europe and act. militarily in your neighborhood without so much dependence on the United States.

But even before the virus hit so hard, and despite strong calls that the bloc was in greater danger from new technologies and a more aggressive Russia and China, the European Commission was already drastically cutting projected European military spending in the next seven-year budget.

Now, with the pandemic sweeping the economy, there will be an even fiercer budget battle. Recovery and jobs should be the priority, and Brussels continues to emphasize investment in a European "Green Agreement,quot; to manage the climate crisis. Military spending is very likely to be lost, making cries for Europe's boldness and self-sufficiency sound increasingly hollow.

And just last week, Josep Borrell Fontelles, the bloc's head of foreign policy, said the virus "will only increase the need for a stronger EU. Security and defense and for a stronger Europe in the world." The he called for more funds, saying that "the pandemic is a new threat and will deteriorate our security environment."