Defense and Security Manifesto

European Election Candidate for ‘VoorU’

Marta Barandiy


In an era marked by geopolitical instability and evolving threats to the European Union’s security, Belgium must reinforce its defense and security frameworks to safeguard its sovereignty, national interests, and the security of the EU and NATO. This Defense and Security Manifesto aims to modernize Belgium’s defense capabilities, enhance cybersecurity, and counter cognitive threats over a 5-year period. It addresses both national defense posture adaptations and Belgium’s contributions to European and international security strategies.


Belgium is a founding member of both NATO and the EU, hosting NATO’s Civilian and Military headquarters, the Headquarters of the European Commission, and one of the Parliament’s seats. Over the last three decades, Belgium, like many European countries, has seen a decrease in defense investments, creating challenges for its ability to meet NATO commitments and respond to new threats to the security of the European Union and Belgium itself. 

In recent years, Belgium has recognized these challenges and engaged in a series of defense upgrades, including opening a new cybersecurity center, expanding total personnel to 29000 (from 25000), and increasing defense spending as a part of GDP to 2% by 2035. The manifesto recognizes these historical trends and seeks to correct past shortcomings through strategic reforms and targeted investments.

1. Main Challenges to Belgian Defense Posture

1. Russian Aggression and Eastern Flank Security

Russia’s military actions, including the invasion of Ukraine and threats to the Baltic states, pose significant risks to EU and NATO security. Belgium must strengthen its defense capabilities and support allies on the Eastern Flank.

2. Strategic Engagement in Africa

Africa’s instability, exacerbated by external interference from Russia and China, demands a strategic European response. Belgium should enhance its African engagement to promote stability, prevent extremism, and foster sustainable development.

3. Cyber Threats

Cyberwarfare, a growing fifth dimension of warfare, necessitates robust defenses. Belgium must invest in advanced cybersecurity technologies, education, and international cooperation to protect critical infrastructure and data.

4. Hybrid Threats

Hybrid warfare, blending conventional military tactics with cyber attacks, disinformation, and economic pressure, requires comprehensive strategies. Belgium must modernize its armed forces, enhance public resilience, and strengthen international cooperation to counter these threats.

5. Trade and Energy Security

To ensure economic stability and security, Belgium must diversify supply chains for critical goods and transition to renewable energy. This will reduce dependency on fossil fuels and enhance resilience against potential disruptions.

2. Strategic Goals

🇧🇪 For Belgium

Enhance Defense and Operational Capabilities
  • Modernize military infrastructure, expand personnel, and speed up the timeline to 2% from 2035 to 2030, from just under €6bn to €12bn, investing on average €1bn extra across a 6-year period. 
  • Spend this money more effectively on equipment, including drones, as well as expanding Belgium’s aircraft fleet to include additional UAV squadrons along with replacing the F-16s provided to Ukraine with additional combat aircraft.
  • Expand the Belgian land component to 20,000 active personnel and expand the reservist system. Ensuring additional electronic warfare corps to ensure better handling of cyber and hybrid attacks.
  • Improve procurement systems for transparency and accountability
  • Promote military service with social benefits to attract qualified individuals.
  • Establishment of a streamlined procurement system to enhance efficiency, transparency, and accountability in military spending.
  • Prioritize the research, acquisition, and development of cutting-edge defense technologies, including drones and cybersecurity systems, to uphold our competitiveness in modern warfare.
Energy Security
  • Invest in renewable energy partnerships and internal production capabilities.
  • Reduce dependence on vulnerable supply chains, especially for rare metals needed for defense production, by diversifying sources and investing in internal production capabilities. 
  • Ensure energy independence and resilience to mitigate potential disruptions during crises or conflicts, expanding air and sea energy generation and battery storage capacity.
Facilitating Drone Licensing and Education

Belgium will streamline the licensing process for drones to encourage innovation and facilitate the integration of drone technology into various sectors. Additionally, Belgium will support NGOs and educational institutes in providing training and educational programs on drone usage, composition, and operation. By simplifying licensing procedures and promoting education, Belgium aims to foster a skilled workforce and promote responsible drone usage.

Exploring the Concept of a Common European Army

Belgium will actively participate in discussions surrounding the establishment of a Common European Army, evaluating the potential benefits and challenges associated with such an initiative. By collaborating with EU member states and NATO allies, Belgium will assess the feasibility of creating a unified military force to enhance collective defense capabilities and promote European security interests.

Financial Considerations

To finance these initiatives, Belgium will explore various funding sources, including reallocating existing defense budgets, pursuing public-private partnerships, and seeking EU funding opportunities. By prioritizing defense investments and exploring innovative financing mechanisms, Belgium aims to ensure sustainable funding for drone licensing simplification, educational programs, and potential contributions to a Common European Army. 

Belgium will prioritize investment in the defense industry, the production of dual-use goods, and cooperation by encouraging common enterprises.

2. Strategic Goals

🇪🇺 For the European Union

Support cooperative security with partners and Allies

Working closer with the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and partners across borders will be a more effective way to cooperate industrially and bring equipment to defense stocks quickly.

Defense Innovation Hubs
  • Establish centers of excellence in defense technology within the EU, focusing on AI, drone technology, and cyber defense solutions.  
  • Encourage collaboration between the government, academic institutions, and private enterprises to boost innovation and commercialization of new defense technologies.
  • Special Economic Zones: Establish EU zones to foster innovation in defense technology, offering tax incentives and streamlined regulations to attract domestic and international defense firms.
  • Enhancing interinstitutional cooperation between existing EU bodies involved in defense and security matters. This approach would leverage the expertise and capabilities of institutions such as the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Defence Agency (EDA), and the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence. To facilitate this cooperation, we recommend establishing a dedicated interinstitutional working group comprised of representatives from these bodies. The working group would meet regularly to exchange information, coordinate initiatives, and identify areas for collaboration.
Support expansion of European Union Membership

EU Membership is the best and most secure EU foreign and security policy. Operate a ‘defensive enlargement method to ensure that partners such as Ukraine, Montenegro, and sufficiently democratized Georgia, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, and Moldova can start the accession process. 

2. Strategic Goals

🇺🇳 NATO and other International Organisations

Open NATO Membership Talks to Ukraine

After 10 years of war with Russia and a full-scale invasion, Ukraine has proved it has what it takes to be a NATO Member. Belgium should push NATO to open a membership-tailored action plan with the Alliance and start the process of joining.

Ensure better cooperation between EU & NATO Defence Strategies

With NATO’s Defence Production Action Plan and the EU’s Defence Industry Programme, there is a distinct need to sequence and coordinate these efforts better. Belgium, as host and member of both, can more effectively open the channels and design methods of cooperation that don’t create duplication and channel funding more effectively to the right areas [Belgium will work to improve coordination between EU and NATO defense strategies, ensuring synergy between the NATO Defense Production Action Plan and the EU’s Defense Industry Programme, thereby optimizing resource allocation and avoiding duplication of efforts.

Enhance interoperability and coordination
  • Enhance interoperability and coordination among EU member states’ military forces, the program advocates for increased joint military exercises and operations, scheduled regularly to complement NATO training intervals. This initiative aims to foster specialization, share tactical knowledge, and integrate advanced technologies, improving operational readiness. By developing an EU-specific operational framework and investing in command and control systems, the program seeks to strengthen the EU’s collective defense identity, boost crisis response capabilities, and maintain continuous improvement through feedback from joint activities. These efforts will ensure that EU forces are well-prepared and capable of effectively responding to regional and international security challenges.
Support UN Reform and the role of the multilateral system

As one of the architects of the United Nations, Belgium has a special role to play, and supporting its reform to make it a more effective organization with broader voices and a better ability to enforce sanctions and resolutions would be an effective policy to take.

Belgium will leverage its diplomatic network to foster dialogue and collaboration among UN member states. By facilitating constructive discussions and promoting consensus-building, Belgium aims to address global challenges more effectively. Belgium will strengthen partnerships with regional organizations and neighboring countries to address common security concerns and promote stability. By working closely with regional actors, Belgium can enhance collective security and contribute to conflict resolution efforts.

3. Support for Ukraine and Measures Against Russian Aggression

Supporting Ukraine is crucial for European security and stability. Our approach includes military, economic, humanitarian, and diplomatic efforts, emphasizing a unified and resilient EU response to counter Russian threats and aggression.

Military Support

To help Ukraine win the war against the Russian aggressor, we propose providing defensive equipment, such as anti-aircraft systems and armored vehicles, to enhance Ukraine’s military capabilities. Additionally, we advocate for supporting training for Ukrainian forces and sharing real-time intelligence to improve their defensive strategies. Strengthening defense in the EU will reinforce both NATO and Europe, ensuring a robust response to authoritarian threats. We support advocating for Ukraine’s NATO membership and participation in joint military exercises to integrate Ukraine further into the Euro-Atlantic security framework.

Economic Support

The manifesto includes measures to offer financial aid packages through international institutions to support Ukraine’s economy. Promoting trade by reducing tariffs and encouraging Belgian investments in Ukraine will help stimulate economic growth. Investing in renewable energy projects is also vital to help Ukraine reduce its reliance on Russian gas, bolstering its energy independence. 

Humanitarian Support

We propose increasing humanitarian aid for displaced persons, including food, medical supplies, and shelter. Additionally, we support providing asylum and integration support for Ukrainian refugees, including housing, healthcare, and education.

Diplomatic and Political Support

Belgium should advocate for maintaining and strengthening EU sanctions against Russia until it withdraws from Ukrainian territory. Promoting Ukraine’s cause in international forums and supporting war crimes investigations will highlight the need for justice and accountability. Returning political prisoners and kidnapped children should be a priority. Furthermore, we support Ukraine’s application for EU membership and will assist with necessary reforms to facilitate this process.

Strategic Goals

Belgium’s multifaceted support aims to bolster Ukraine’s sovereignty, security, and democratic development, contributing to a stable and secure Europe. By enhancing military collaboration, facilitating economic recovery, ensuring energy security, expanding humanitarian aid, and applying diplomatic pressure, Belgium can play a pivotal role in supporting Ukraine through its challenges and deterring threats from authoritarian regimes.

4. Support for Africa region

Collaborate on initiatives addressing climate change, environmental conservation, and sustainable resource management.

Education and Skill Development

Facilitate educational exchanges and vocational training programs to build capacity and empower African youth.

Infrastructure Development

Invest in critical infrastructure projects to enhance connectivity and promote economic development.

Security and Stability

Collaborate on security initiatives to combat terrorism, organized crime, and other threats to regional stability.

By using this website you agree with Cookies and Privacy Policies. Read the Policies