Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)Interview

(interview) F.-J. Jung: Germany no less enthusiastic than before

In an interview granted to Europolitics, the German Defense Minister confides in his support for the European operation off Somalia against pirates, denying that Germany is less enthusiastic than before about European defence. But when we move on to concrete questions: the extension of the mandate of the battle groups, the common financing of military operations or the reinforcement of the EU General Staff in Brussels, we do not however feel a very great drive for the projects of the French presidency…

Faced with the multiplication of pirate raids off the coast of Somalia, do you consider it necessary to develop a European operation? Will Germany take part? How high ?
I am satisfied that the European Union is capable of setting up such a mission. And we support it. On the German side, we now need a mandate from the Bundestag, to take a political decision. It will then be necessary, at European level, to decide which countries will participate in this mission and what types of means they will be ready to make available. The format currently planned for this mission is three frigates, a support building, three reconnaissance and maritime surveillance aircraft. Germany will be able to participate with a frigate, but this is part of a negotiation between member states to define the mission precisely.

An additional contribution to what is already done within the framework of task force 150?
Yes. This is an additional contribution, to be distinguished from Operation Enduring Freedom, which is an anti-terrorist operation. As of November, we will have, within the framework of Operation OEF, a building in the area where we are currently deploying a maritime patrol aircraft based in Djibouti.

Do we get the impression that Germany has been more reluctant, or less enthusiastic, about Defense Europe lately?
I don't have that impression. We want to make our contribution to Europe Défense. You have to see that since the decision in Cologne in 1999, we have come a long way. Look at the mission in Bosnia, in the Congo, and the operation that will now be launched in Somalia. Germany participates in Battle groups, which we continue to develop. In the context of the Deauville meeting, it was said that we want to develop EU capabilities, such as the initiative on helicopters and maritime surveillance. These are the points that are changing the Europe of defense. European military capabilities must be developed. This is what Europe needs.

Then allow three test questions of the German commitment in the Europe of Defence. Firstly, the Battlegroups (the rapid reaction force of the EU), are not really used
today. Should their mandate be broadened to engage it in a theater of operations as a preliminary force…?

The Battles groups are designed as a firefighting force, with operational availability within ten days for crisis management. It is their mandate. Today they are only army units, what matters is to expand it to include marine and air elements. And thus have an expanded response capacity.

Next, do you consider it necessary to review the methods of joint financing of military operations, what is called the Athena mechanism, as the French presidency wants?
I would rather say: each State must put in place the capacities of which it is capable in order to act in common. We have a principle in Europe: the costs must be borne where they are generated. This has a consequence: when a State puts in a large number of military resources and is called upon to put in the pot for common funding, it is in a way “punished” twice. Example: for the helicopter initiative, we have just ordered equipment worth 28,5 million euros. Ditto, for the Airbus A400M, we ordered 60 aircraft. I would not like tomorrow to be presented with an invoice to participate in the common costs of equipment that we have already financed. This invoice must rather be presented to the States which do not participate, with their own forces and means.

…Finally, what do you think of the idea of ​​having a reinforced military headquarters of the European Union in Brussels?
We are in favor of a European planning and command capability. The High Representative for the common foreign and security policy must have increased functions so that Europe has a real capacity for action. It is rather within this framework that we will be able to reflect on a possible reorganization of the attributions of the various headquarters, knowing that any duplication of the responsibilities of the staffs must be avoided.


(article published in Europolitics on October 7)

Franz-Josef Jung in a nutshell. Born March 5, 1949 in Eltville (Land of Hesse), member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he has been Federal Minister of Defense – in Angela Merkel's government – ​​since November 22, 2005. His baccalaureate ( Abitur), Jung passed it... in 1968. Completed military service (1969-1970), he studied law at the University of Mainz (1970-1974), obtained his doctorate in 1978. But it was politics that especially interests him. Member of Parliament for Rheingau-Taunus (1972-1987), he spent a good part of his career in his native Land within the CDU parliamentary group (of which he became president in 2003) and in the Länder Land government (Minister of Federal Affairs and European 1999-2000).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).