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Ashton's security strategy: ambition close to 0°

(BRUSSELS2) Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, was also in Munich, where she spoke
a general portrait of European politics. " The days when EU foreign policy could be dismissed as just talk and no action are behind us » she congratulated herself. There is still work to be done, of course. “ We must develop additional capabilities for modern crisis management. (…) We must respond flexibly, quickly and effectively she clarified.

Threats are global and we depend on our partners to act. To decide to act, Catherine Ashton sets two imperatives: “ First, be clear about what (our) political strategy is and ensure that the means and objectives are agreed. Second, take a broad view (of the situation). None of the threats we face are purely military in nature. We should always mobilize the full range of tools at our disposal. (...) But even if we have our coordinated policies and the political will to act, Europe alone will not be able to resolve the threats already mentioned (1). In a deeply interdependent world where threats are global, everyone needs partners”. And the High Representative lists these partnerships: NATO in the Balkans and Afghanistan, OSCE in the Balkans in Georgia, African Union in Somalia… As for the Russian proposal for European security, Catherine Ashton does the minimum service: “ We are open to discussing ideas that could enhance security
» ; she insists on one point:OSCE must have first place in discussions on Russian initiative for a Treaty for European Security, and adds: states must be free to join whatever security alliance they wish ". Well ! Hillary Clinton couldn't have said it better on this point.

Comment: generalities and an ambition close to zero! This speech cannot hide the fact that the High Representative does not at any time speak out in favor of European autonomy of action. To say that we need the OSCE and NATO to act in the Balkans and in Georgia reveals a singular lack of ambition and is, above all, false. Europe is fully capable of acting alone in these two areas! (which does not prevent us from acting in interconnection with other organizations. Likewise, by extending security threats to anything and everything (the mafia, immigration, etc.), defense policy and security becomes a palliative to other “internal” policies. It is to forget that what constitutes the soul, the heart of the action of the CSDP is to prevent an external attack, to bring back or preserve the stability of a country. In a short word: peace In fact, very often, the High Representative of the EU takes, with a slight polish, a position that is more US than EU. German Foreign Minister's speech is much more ambitious for Europe!

(1) “ We live in a world of increasing complexity with many threats and challenges, such as failed states, terrorism, organized crime, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber security. Broader issues affect the security of our citizens: energy, climate change and access to natural resources, illegal immigration and human trafficking.”

(photo credit: Münich Security Conference, Kai Moerk – Catherine Ashton in discussion with German Defense Minister Zu Gutenberg)

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).