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States take back the initiative. Paris, Berlin, Warsaw write to Cathy…

Juppé and zu Gutenberg reviewing the 291st squadron, the first unit deployed in France (Credit: Afp photo, / Christian Lutz)

The letters follow one another... After the letter from the Belgian Pieter De Crem, summarizing the informal debates in Ghent (1), in the name of the Defense Ministers, the German-Swedish paper (2), here is the letter from Michèle, Alain, Guido, Karl Théodor, Radek and Bogdan addressed to Cathy Ashton.

Signed by both the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs of the three countries that make up the Weimar triangle (M. Alliot-Marie and A. Juppé for France, G. Westerwelle and KT zu Gutenberg for Germany, R . Sikorski and B. Klich for Poland), it is indicative of a certain unease which reigns in certain Member States over the ambient sluggishness. If the tone remains polite, the unusual length of the letter (5 pages) and the words used (despite the circumlocutions of convenience) sound more like a call to action for the High Representative in charge of Foreign Affairs and security policy of the EU, Cathy Ashton.

“give new impetus to the CSDP (…) through concrete measures"

The timing chosen to make this missive known, dated December 6, is also symbolic. Prepared for several weeks (*), it was presented to the COPS, political and security committee, on December 10. Just the day after the first Council of Defense Ministers, chaired in person by Cahty Ashton, which demonstrated, if it was still necessary, the weak interest of the High Representative in the development of an autonomous defense policy. But the member states do not see it that way. “We must give new impetus to European security and defense policy in full complementarity with NATO. Your personal investment in this business will be essential.

We need to move on to something more concrete, they emphasize: “Lessons learned must be transformed into concrete measures. (…) We hope that the Union will strengthen its contribution to international peace and security and improve its capacity to face the threats weighing on its security”.

“In a context of severe financial constraints, we must be ready to make bold decisions. The CSDP must become both more efficient and more efficient” write the six signatories, who identify four areas of progress.

"The CSDP must become both more effective and more efficient”

1st point: EU-NATO cooperation

This cooperation must go through a “cooperation in theaters of operation", the partnership "essential” between the European Defense Agency and Allied Command Transformation (ACT). But other lands can be exploited, “including cyber defense“. Has the High Representative been on the wrong track so far?

2nd point: capacities permanent planning and conduct of operations

The signatories identify three avenues: improving the capacity to plan and conduct civil-military and military operations and missions by relying on existing structures (in other words what can be compared to a civil-military HQ), the improvement of military leadership capabilities (in other words the long-awaited military HQ), the adaptation of battlegroups to “complex business needs“, in particular through the strengthening of civil-military capacities, such as the possibility of “build modules that include full military and civilian capabilities".

3rd point: battlegroups

The three countries which will pool a battlegroup in the first half of 1 intend to experiment with new possibilities. They "thus reaffirm their desire to deploy the battlegroup” and hear the “make it even more available so that it reacts better to operational emergencies“. Targeted advanced planning will be implemented, in cooperation with CSDP structures. And the participants are counting on the review of the Athena mechanism, which will be initiated under the Polish presidency, which could allow a “joint funding, aimed at improving the readiness, deployability and cost-effectiveness of battle groups” (particularly at the strategic transport level).

4th point: industrial capacities

To restructure the defense industrial and technological base (DTBI), the European Defense Agency has a “substantial role“, underline the signatories, who ask the High Representative to present “in right time“a report”on the progress made in this area which could serve as a basis for an in-depth discussion at ministerial level".

start the debate “as soon as possible”

Germany, Poland and France finally propose to “start a reflection process as soon as possible“. They ask him to write “this item on the agenda of the next meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council“, the objective being to obtain “concrete results under the Polish Presidency in the second half of 2011“. In other words, no more wait-and-see, it's urgent, hello action Madam High Representative!

(*) This letter had in fact been prepared for several months. But if Warsaw and Berlin had agreed, it seems, Paris was still procrastinating.

Read also:

Download the letter in french - the letter in english

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).