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European defense structures understaffed

(credit: CHU Geneva)

The High Representative has set herself an objective of reducing posts by 10% in the diplomatic service in its current sphere, in order to be able to make the necessary readjustments and reinforcements. We can say it: in the crisis management structures of the PeSDC, this objective has not only been achieved, it has even been largely exceeded!

If I believe the latest information received from Brussels2, we would thus be at “– 25 positions” at the CPCC (the crisis headquarters) and “– 10/15 positions” at the CMPD (the crisis planning structure). defense operations). Compared to the theoretical workforce (approximately 70 people each), this gives the measure of the “necessary remobilization“, as High Representative Cathy Ashton explained recently. To achieve this situation, several phenomena combine. Some are more “objective”, “mechanical” in a way, others more “subjective”, “political”.

An administrative no mans' land

First of all, there is the ordinary game of job rotations in administrative structures. These entities which were attached to the Council also found themselves for a year in a kind of no man's land following the establishment of the diplomatic service. During the one-year period during which the EEAS was set up, certain positions were not opened. And the calls for applications could not be carried out as planned. This “no mans land” is also visible at the head of these two structures. The director of the CMPD and two deputies successively left the scene. As for the head of the CPCC, he is leaving, his mandate ending in March. And his successor has not yet been named (even if a name is circulating).

A lack of interest from the High Representative (as well as from the Member States)

There are also more “subjective” explanations. Certain agents who came from the Council sometimes preferred to stay or return to this institution (more political and less cumbersome than the Commission structures which “suffer” from the “Kinnock” reform). Finally, there is a diffuse phenomenon: until now no one has felt outside, and even more so inside, any strategic interest from the High Representative in defense issues. And even on the side of the Member States (in particular France which has often been one of the “pushers” of the PeSDC), we are currently experiencing a certain lack of ownership.

Let us hope that the informal meeting of Defense Ministers in Budapest on February 24 and 25 will help reverse the trend.

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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).