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Can Europe Transition to a War Economy?

The concept of a war economy has re-emerged in Europe due to geopolitical tensions, particularly with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and concerns about Russia. Experts highlight the need for readiness, noting that while a full war economy transition is unlikely, mobilizing defense resources is necessary given the enduring threat. Coordinating such an economy within the EU’s diverse political landscape is complex, but defense-related economic activities could also stimulate other sectors.
The concept of a 'war economy' has re-emerged in Europe due to geopolitical tensions, particularly with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and rising concerns about Russia.

A war economy involves reorienting national economic structures to prioritize military needs over civilian consumption, often requiring increased government control over industries and resource allocation for defense production.

While Europe is not currently in a full-scale war, experts highlight the need for readiness.

Mart Kuldkepp from University College London suggests that 'war economy' can also be a form of informational warfare, signaling strategic resolve.

The US and Europe lag behind Russia in war manufacturing capacity, and coordinating such an economy within the EU’s diverse political landscape is complex.

Alexander Clarkson of King's College London notes that EU-wide coordination would be essential.

Public support for a war economy could wane if the threat seems unrealistic, but defense-related economic activities could stimulate other sectors.

Dimitar Bechev from Oxford indicates that defense technologies may boost civilian manufacturing.

Despite differing attitudes within Europe, the defense sector is expected to grow.

A full war economy transition appears unlikely unless Russia expands aggression to NATO or EU members, but mobilizing defense resources remains necessary given the enduring threat.

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