The new head of the European Defence Agency, Jiří Šedivý, has thrown down the gauntlet to European Union member states, telling them: “It is up to you to deliver.” In an interview with Defense News, he said the onus is on EU countries “to use the EDA to its full extent.”

Šedivý has extensive experience in the defense domain, having served as defense minister and deputy defense minister of the Czech Republic, NATO assistant secretary general for defense policy and planning, and permanent representative of the Czech Republic to NATO.

His term comes amid a fast-changing European defense landscape and new EU defense initiatives that are under increasing pressure to deliver results.

How will the COVID-19 health crisis affect European defense spending in the near, mid and long term?

Let’s be realistic: We are still in the middle of the pandemic and, at this stage, nobody can foresee what its exact repercussions will be. But being realistic also means that we have to anticipate, already now, that national and European defense budgets might come under pressure as a result of the massive economic and financial costs of COVID-19, whether we like it or not. Here our answer should be straightforward: Rather than cutting national defense expenditure rashly, let’s coordinate, pool and share our resources and invest more in collaborative capability development because a collective approach is much more cost-effective than national solo efforts.

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