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The EU’s Winter Package for European Security and Defence

Marauder Blueprint

Courtesy of Pascal/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in December 2016.

The security and defence of of the European Union touches on a core area of national sovereignty. Lack of political will and mutual trust among EU member states has long been an obstacle to achieving the treaty objectives and has blocked the framing of a policy that could lead to a common defence. In recent years, defence budgets all over Europe have been slashed in an uncoordinated manner, hollowing out most member states’ capabilities. For this reason, the leaders of the EU member states meeting at the December 2013 European Council decided to buck the trend. But delivery has lagged behind.

Tapping into the political momentum generated by the fraught security climate in and around Europe, the prospect of Brexit and the unpredictability injected into US foreign policy by the election of Donald Trump, the European Council has now endorsed a ’winter package’ to strengthen the common security and defence policy of the Union. It has urged speedy implementation by institutions and member states alike.

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Defence Policy in the European Union: Multi-Speed Security?

Courtesy Tilemahos Efthimiadis/Flickr. CC BY 2.0

This article was originally published by the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) on 14 November 2016.

EU Member States are unlikely to reach consensus on comprehensive reform of Common Security and Defence Policy soon. What may follow will be attempts to establish a European “defence core.” That, however, would threaten NATO adaptation to the new security challenges and undermine the coherence of the EU itself. It is Poland’s interest to avoid such a scenario in favour of inclusiveness in defence cooperation in the EU. The country should also seek to confirm a balanced approach to European defence industry policy.

The future of defence cooperation within the European Union returned to the political agenda in Europe with implementation of the European Global Strategy (EGS), which aims to reinforce Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). At the same time, some Member States have proposed the establishment of a European “defence core.” Since it is unlikely that the EU will agree on comprehensive reform of CSDP within the EGS implementation, the Member States that call for a rapid deepening of defence integration in Europe will try to pursue their agenda in an exclusive grouping. These states argue that such a step is a proper political reaction to the EU and Brexit crises, as well as the correct operational answer to the security crisis in the Union’s southern neighbourhood. But in this scenario, Poland and other likeminded EU countries that support a pragmatic vision of CSDP and seek added-value through EU-developed military capabilities may be forced out of the main vehicle of defence cooperation in Europe.

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The Paradox of EU Defence Policy

EU and NATO Flags

Polish, EU and NATO Flags, courtesy Pawel Kabanski/Flickr

This article was originally published by European Geostrategy on 9 March 2016.

There is a paradox at the heart of EU defence policy. On the one hand the strategic demand for a more active and effective EU defence policy has been growing in recent years, mainly due to the increasing number of complex security crises in Europe’s neighbourhood. On the other, political interest in member-state capitals in EU defence policy has been declining. If this strange dichotomy continues, it will demonstrate the increasing irrelevance of EU defence policy for international security, and will hamper the ambition of the EU global strategy to have a full-spectrum set of foreign policy instruments and more comprehensive foreign policies.

Growing strategic demand

It has become obvious to say that the EU faces a number of security crises in its broad neighbourhood. This is not to say that the EU does not have global security interests, it does, for example maritime security in East Asia. But its role in East Asian security is likely to remain mainly a non-military one. In contrast, the EU’s extended neighbourhood is currently very turbulent, and crises there are causing a number of internal security challenges, such as the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks. » More