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The defense dimension, the great forgotten of the conference of EU ambassadors

(Rant) When we read the program concocted for the conference of EU ambassadors which is taking place these days in Brussels, we can only be astonished. Where is the dimension of European defense? Trade, climate change, budget, development, humanitarian aid… nothing has really been forgotten about the main issues of an EU embassy, ​​new format. Nothing… except one theme: Europe of Defense.

However, defense is one of the major aspects of the Lisbon Treaty (along with the political aspect) in the transformation of European Commission delegations into real EU embassies. Under the permanent presidency, they will, in fact, be responsible for political and security issues. This is already the case, more or less, in the countries where PeSDC missions are deployed (Georgia, Moldova, Israel, Bosnia, Kosovo, Congo, Uganda, Afghanistan). But it can also be in countries at risk (Korea, Chad, Kenya – Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, etc.) or in countries where the security dimension is strategic (Russia, Pakistan, United States, etc.).

Neither General Syren, who is nevertheless the chairman of the Military Committee and the military advisor to Cathy Ashton, nor the EU military chief of staff, Van Osch, or his civilian alter ego, Klompenhouwer, came to speak to diplomats to explain to them the challenges of European defense, both civil and military. An oversight that is not entirely innocent…

A meaningful omission

It is, first of all, a confirmation. The disinterest observed from the beginning of the High Representative for European Defense (2) is not just an impression but a reality well anchored in her spirit and her political will. A dark stain in a record that remains honorable (3).

This oversight is also a slap in the face for the military and those involved in crisis management, equivalent to the “slap” of Palma de Mallorca for the Ministers of Defense (4). Certainly egos are a very relative thing when it comes to the issues in this world. But when you manage a new service: constantly trampling on part of your troops is not good for morale. This is therefore a lost opportunity to build links between “diplomats” and crisis managers.

Beyond the crumpled egos, a serious strategic error

This oversight constitutes finally, and above all, a serious strategic error. While the world is talking about security, whether about a US-Russia rapprochement, or about the peace process (or not) in the Middle East, new threats in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Korea, Sudan... Europe remains angelic believing in his good conscience.

Because if there is a crisis for which a head of delegation of the European Commission, usually used to managing development projects or humanitarian aid, fishing agreements or commercial policy issues, is least prepared ( *), it is undoubtedly the security or military crisis. But today, or tomorrow, it is the EU ambassador who will be on the front line, who will have the lead in most countries (5).

How can we make the link, for example, with an on-site defense mission, prepare or manage a SOFA? manage the intervention of a battlegroup? proceed with the evacuation of citizens? make the link with the government and the Legad of a mission in the event of an accident or repatriation of injured people, or even bodies? Etc. All this cannot be improvised.

How much longer will Europe believe, like a young naive girl standing by the side of the road, that raising your thumb at nightfall and the checkbook in your pocket will bring her Prince Charming?

(*) All vital things without doubt and extremely complex in addition.

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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).

2 thoughts on “The defense dimension, the great forgotten of the conference of EU ambassadors"

  • felli bernard

    my astonishment joins yours, could the Defense and the Security of Europe be entrusted to others? Your metaphor used at the end of your article “the young girl …” Excellent clarity. I allow myself a little reminder of Henri Kissinger “The great powers never commit suicide for their allies”
    Kind regards.

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