European Defence Summit:Time to Move Forward

European Defence Summit:Time to Move Forward

Publication date:
12/2013
Author:
Agnieszka Nimark, Associate Researcher, CIDOB
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Notes internacionals CIDOB, núm. 81

The preparations for this year’s EU Defence Summit and the debates surrounding it clearly indicate that the EU member states are beginning to realize that limited progress in military capability building and the lack of defence cooperation pose a real threat to European security. Even though it has been acknowledged for a long time that the Union’s interests and safety of its citizens depend to a great extent on international stability, European states increasingly lack the ability to intervene militarily in a crisis situation. The overall EU strategic position has also been affected by the economic shift of power from the West to the East and by the recent economic crisis. As national defence budgets have been cut and capabilities reduced, the issue of defence cooperation has been absent at EU Summits since 2008.
The main problem to overcome in order to achieve more defence cooperation seems to be that EU member states, and in particular the three big players (UK, France and Germany), appear to be determined to maintain national control over their own foreign/security policy and their national defence industries, which hinders the fulfilment of commonly agreed objectives. There is neither agreement among the European leaders about the indispensability of the EU military force (as some of them prioritize prioritize cooperation within NATO), nor about the importance of power projection on a global scale. Without a coherent vision and a strong leadership, there is a risk that the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) will continue to simply ‘muddle through’. At the same time, the EU faces rapid changes in the international environment, the growing instability in its neighbourhood and the gradual US disengagement from Europe. The pressure therefore mounts for the EU to assume greater responsibility for its own security and to fulfil its global security commitments. There seem to be many vital reasons for enhancing defence collaboration, and through it, the overall Union’s military posture. However, there are also many constrains that might prevent the EU-28 to move forward towards this goal.

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