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What Does “European Defense” Look Like? The Answer Might Be in the Sahel

Image courtesy of Fred Marie/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 19 March 2019.

A few weeks ago, the Danish government announced it would submit to its parliament a request for the deployment of two medium lift helicopters AW101 and about 70 military personnel to the Sahel region as part of the French-led counter-terrorism operation “Barkhane.” Once the deployment is approved by lawmakers, as appears likely, Danish assets would join the operation in late 2019.

This announcement has received little attention, but it is significant — both for the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel region and for the future of European defense cooperation. It provides an insight into a new approach to the project of building European defense, one that does not necessarily rely on the structures or complex institutional settings of the European Union, but instead focuses on pragmatic and operational cooperation between states.

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European Security Post-Merkel

Image courtesy of European Council/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0, the image has been cropped)

This article was originally published by the Danish Institue for International Studies (DIIS) on 14 November 2018.

EU defence cooperation suffers from a lack of strategic purpose. This challenge offers an opportunity for smaller members such as Denmark to stress that PESCO supported by Germany and the French EI2 initiative are not and should not be competitive models.

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The Willing, the Hesitant and the Late-comer

Image courtesy of Devin Andrews/DVIDS.

This article was originally published by the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) on 26 September 2018.

Starting from different points of departure, the Nordic countries are coming closer together regarding their outlook on security, due to a perceived Russian threat and lack of American leadership. Multilateral forums like NATO, the EU and the UN remain their best chance of contributing to defining and addressing threats to their own and global stability.

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After Crimea: The Future of Nordic Defence Cooperation

Image courtesy of Johannes Jansson/Norden.org. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

This article was originally published by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in 2018.

Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) was originally about cost-effectiveness. The Nordic states sought to work together when training and educating their soldiers, procuring new equipment, and logistically supporting their forces. Faced with a relevantly benign security situation at home, with Russia regarded in principle as a partner, operational military cooperation was primarily about expeditionary operations far from northern Europe. Even if NORDEFCO never became the beacon of Nordic cooperation that some political speeches sought to paint it as, it nonetheless provided the Nordics with a flexible and non-bureaucratic framework through which various forms of defence cooperation could be pursued.

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Rebooting the Franco-German Engine: Two Post-election Scenarios

Courtesy of VasenkaPhotography/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Danish Insitute for International Studies (DIIS) on 15 June 2017.

Rebooting the Franco-German locomotive of European integration is a key condition for reviving the fading EU project. Compromises will have to be made on fiscal and defence policies, and it is unclear whether the parties have the political capital necessary.

The election of pro-European Emmanuel Macron as president of France has reignited hopes that the so-called Franco-German engine, providing political impetus to European integration in the past decades, might be revived. While Macron’s election proved a rebuke to the populist challenge, it remains to be seen whether and how it will manage to rebalance the partnership with Berlin, which is overwhelmingly premised on Germany’s growing strength and clout at the European level. While pronouncing herself supportive of the new course in Paris, Chancellor Angela Merkel, like the rest of Europe, remains in a wait-and-see position regarding the ability of President Macron to fulfil his ambitious pro-EU agenda.

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