EU lawmakers call for military investment after Kabul chaos

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

(Reuters) - The European Parliament called on Thursday for the 27-nation bloc to strengthen its defence cooperation and investment to become more independent of the United States after the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"The EU must invest in military awareness, surveillance and reconnaissance, intelligence and strategic airlift," according to a resolution approved in Strasbourg.

The parliament voted 536 in favour, 96 against and with 50 abstentions.

The non-binding resolution noted the inability of European forces to secure an airport such as Kabul for evacuations without U.S. support.

The parliament also criticised the U.S. planning of a drawdown from Afghanistan that EU lawmakers said was unilateral and without sufficient coordination with NATO allies, many of which are EU members.

The resolution labelled the chaotic withdrawal a collective failure of Western foreign and security policy that, in the short-term, damages the credibility of the West.

The dependency on Washington for evacuations from Afghanistan has triggered fresh discussions in the European Union about the establishment of a rapid reaction force.

EU efforts to create such a force have been paralysed for more than a decade despite the creation in 2007 of a system of "battlegroups" of 1,500 troops that have never been used due to disputes over funding and a reluctance to deploy them.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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