Germany proposes joint European air defense system

Chancellor Olaf Scholz says the measure would save money and work more effectively

European “neighbors” should set up a joint air defense system amid the Ukraine conflict and other security challenges, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

“We have a lot of catching up to do in Europe when it comes to defense against airborne and space-based threats. That is why we in Germany will be investing very significantly in our air defense over the years ahead,” Scholz said in a speech at Charles University in Prague on Monday.

“At the same time, Germany will from the very start design future air defense in a way that our European neighbors can be involved in, if [they] desire,” he added.

The chancellor stated that maintaining a joint air defense shield would be “more efficient and cost effective” than if each European country continued to develop its own defense solutions.

“It would also be a security gain for Europe as a whole, and an outstanding example of what we mean when we talk about strengthening the European pillar within NATO,” Scholz added.

The German leader also said that Berlin can assume “special responsibility” for helping Ukraine acquire advanced artillery and air defense weapons as part of a burden-sharing scheme.

Last month, the EU agreed to spend €500 million ($500.4 million) to boost joint weapons purchases and to replenish the military stocks depleted by the deliveries of weapons to Ukraine.

In the past, EU leaders have called for joint defense efforts in order to make the bloc more resilient. In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron and former German chancellor Angela Merkel proposed creating a “real” European army that would supplement NATO.