News BlogEU Defense (Doctrine)

ESDP can't do everything but is useful, says General Bentegeat

(BRUSSELS2) General Henri Bentegeat, president of the EU military committee (and former French chief of staff), was not content, on Thursday, to take stock of current military operations before the parliamentarians of the Defense Subcommittee of the European Parliament (see on the Bosnia or Somalia), he also gave his point of view on the evolution of European defense policy and cooperation with NATO. Responding to a talented Eurosceptic British MP (it exists!), Geoffroy Van Orden, he took a more personal tone, almost in the form of a “coming out”, admitting to him: “ you know, I too, before taking this post, I was rather skeptical about European defense policy. And here it is… after three years. I can tell you: it is useful and necessary ».

NATO – EU have a different role. « The EU in terms of “defense and security is not comparable to NATO. It has neither the objectives nor the means. explains Bentegeat.  With a key figure, he responded to all the critics who put forward the argument of duplication. In NATO, you have 15000 people; in the EU, 200 people. You can have an idea of ​​the duplication that we can have. Can we really compare.... ". He also made a point: The ESDP cannot be exercised within the European Union. While NATO can ". NB: we are talking here about a military intervention to defend the Member States against direct aggression, the ESDP is, in fact, a tool in the service of “foreign policy”, a policy of projection of forces, one could say. And only that... Conversely, NATO's primary, historical and main role is to ensure the defense of member states. “A situation which could change with the Treaty of Lisbon” specified the general (with the appearance of solidarity clauses).

No high-intensity operation possible without a permanent HQ… and the USA. Having a high intensity operation (of the type
carried out by the United States in Iraq or NATO in Afghanistan), it is not possible, " The EU is not ready for this. Intelligence and command resources are not ready for a large-scale operation. And for that we would need a permanent headquarters. » But the agreement does not exist between the 27. « There is a slight majority in favor (for operational reasons). And a strong minority against (for fear of displeasing the United States). And the general completes with the operational reality: “ to conduct a high-level operation
intensity, we need (at least) the support of the United States
". Shut the ban...

EU added value. This does not mean that the EU does not have its own strength, its own added value. For Bentegeat, it is located at
“two levels”: “ 1° It is the only organization capable of a global, integrated approach to crisis prevention and management. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2004, the activities of the military force and the police mission have been continuously coordinated by the Special Representative. Another example is in Chad where the EUFOR operation “was entirely planned between the General Secretariat and the Commission. (…) 2° In many cases, the EU is the only international actor accepted by the parties to the conflict. Example, in Chad. (NB: We could also add Georgia or East Timor in the past).


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).