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A Belgo-Hungarian-Polish paper on common defense

(BRUSSELS2) “We shall take concrete steps, as appropriate, to implement all provisions and articles of the Lisbon Treaty relevant to CSDP” this sentence which appeared in the ministerial declaration adopted in November 2009, on the 10th anniversary of the ESDP, Belgium, Hungary and Poland intend to make it become reality.

These three countries agreed on a “Non-paper” (unofficial paper setting out a political position) to put in place the new CSDP instruments of the Lisbon Treaty. Document that I was able to consult at length exclusively.

This three-man configuration is original on defense. But she doesn't hold randomly. These three countries will take turns occupying the presidency of the EU: Belgians in the 2nd half of 2010, Hungarians then in the 1st half of 2011, Poles in the 2nd half of 2011. France was not a signatory of this document. But she was involved in the discussions or, at least, kept closely informed of its implementation...

An explanation of text, policy

This document is not a road map, an operational work program. It consists more of a common analysis of the new PeSDC provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. A kind of text explanation, Politics, very useful, given the lapidary side of certain provisions and on which the 27 are at least divided.

The trio does not hide the difficulties. The common understanding of these instruments still remains very early stage they write. For come to such an understanding, a "considerable amount of work is required ». This work must begin right now ».

And the three countries display an ambition, measured, reasonable (achievable). This work must be carried out in the mind to use these instruments in the best possible way » to advance solidarity between Member States, promote CSDP and continued European integration, and the role of the EU as a global actor. They thus detail five of the main provisions of European defense in the future.

1. Permanent structured cooperation (CSP).

« We see a real added value ". This cooperation must lead to operational advantages, more efficient defense spending, elimination of current duplications and gaps. It must be seen as a means of generating “political will” between member states as a “incentive to strengthen the effectiveness of their defense effort“. Everything remains to be done, however. And the trio is aware of it. The modalities which will govern the CSP as well as the evaluation methods remain to be fixed. But, in all cases, the approach must be “open and inclusive” (i.e. being able to include all countries).

2. The mutual aid and assistance clause (Article 42 of the EU Treaty).

This clause is a modern clause, reflecting that threats must be resolved in a comprehensive manner. For NATO allies, the treaty is very clear; NATO is the “forum for the implementation” of this clause. But in "a context of growing interdependence, this clause has a
key significance.
It should facilitate cooperation between Member States wishing to pool, share and specialize capabilities. »

3. The solidarity clause (Article 222 TFEU).

Even if it does not appear in the PeSDC chapter, this clause is “clearly linked” to the PeSDC, underlines the paper. “ In other words, it opens up the possibility of using PeSDC instruments within EU borders”, thus reflecting the reality of a “ continuum between internal and external security”. Thus, even if the legal context is different, it can reasonably be expected that capabilities, procedures, agreements on command and control structures (C2) will be discussed as part of the debate on humanitarian intervention or disaster relief program of the EU.

4. The launch fund – start-up (article 41 EU Treaty).

The text highlights the differences of views that exist on the nature and objective of this fund. For some, it is linked to the Athena mechanism, for others not. For some it is purely military in nature, for others it might involve funding both military and civilian efforts. “ Our thoughts on this clause should take into account lessons from recent missions and operations and the potential for added value from the early assessment phase, building on the recent example of EUCO Haitii”.

5. Vanguard group (article 42§5 and 44 EU Treaty).

This article " opens up the possibility of entrusting the execution of certain tasks to a group of Member States. » Which raises certain questions for the Trio. Do these tasks refer to operations or capabilities as well? What does “management” of a mission mean? What are the financial consequences, if any? Does this clause codify existing practices or does it aim to strengthen rapid response, including cases of extreme emergency? “ This article is applicable immediately but there is no common understanding on what this may mean in practice. The Union needs to avoid being in a situation where this clause could be used without having reached a common level of understanding ».

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(photo credit: Polish police officers in Kosovo – Eulex)

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).