Politics & Economics

Defense, Following the Eurobond Scheme of NGEU

March 2024
By Gianni Pittella

This article is also available in these languages

Faced with the ongoing uncertainties of the United States in continuing its financial and military support for Ukraine, due to the vetoes of the Republicans, too aligned with pro-Russian positions, the issue of replicating the eurobond scheme of the Next Generation EU for defense has emerged.

European Commissioner for Economy, Gentiloni, has spoken in favor of the idea, recalling that the EU has been able to go to the financial markets and raise 100 billion each year, maintaining its triple-A rating.

Regarding this proposal, which I consider correct, the usual cold reactions have come from both the right and the left. On the right, there was considerable indifference, probably because all attention was focused on the third term issue, for which a government crisis was risked. In Germany, the liberal Lindner expressed opposition in the name of the traditional view of austerity that in recent years has done more harm than good.

On the left, in the name of naive pacifism (or bad faith), the now majority left of the PD and the 5 Star Movement have positioned themselves against it. The stakes are higher than what the Italian parties can see in their small ideological squabbles. The creation of a common financing mechanism for defense would mean replicating the NGEU scheme, enshrining the principle that common challenges are met with common resources. This choice would entail an essential step forward for European integration because it would presuppose a political leap towards a federal Europe.

Naturally, this is provided that it is not an isolated operation but part of a design aimed at European Defense, a European Fiscal system, and ultimately at the United States of Europe. Saying yes to eurobonds but not for defense would mean depriving Europe of the inherent strength of a federal system to collect and spend resources autonomously in sectors where national states are powerless. But we must also be wary of the consequences of a weak Europe.

Unlike during the financial crisis, Europe’s survival is not only questioned internally but also externally, by a power, Putin’s Russia, that wants to turn back the clock by asserting war as a tool for expanding its borders, a principle rejected by the very idea of a united, free, and peaceful Europe. For this reason, it is important to reflect carefully on whether Italian political forces are up to the historical moment we are living.