BRUSSELS: The European Union on Friday unveiled plans to make it easier to move troops and military equipment around the bloc, in a bid to boost defence in the face of the growing threat posed by Russia, reports AFP.
EU officials will look to streamline customs checks that are currently causing delays as well as reviewing infrastructure plans to make sure that roads, bridges and railways are able to carry heavy military equipment such as tanks.
Senior NATO commanders have warned that cumbersome border bureaucracy is hampering their ability to move resources quickly, which in turn reduces their capacity to provide a serious deterrent to potential aggression from Russia.
The need for military movement around Europe declined after the Cold War, but the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has once again brought the threat from the east back into sharp focus.
European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said it was “high time” that military needs were once again taken into account in transport planning.
“The swift movement of military personnel and equipment is hindered by physical, legal and regulatory barriers,” Bulc said.
“This creates inefficiencies in public spending, delays, disruptions, and above all a greater vulnerability.”
A joint statement from EU members highlighted recent military exercises where customs problems and infrastructure limitations—bridges not being able to support the weight of military vehicles, for instance—had led to “delays, disruptions higher costs and increased vulnerability”.