Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

European multinational bodies? To the guillotine! says the Court of Auditors (FR)

(BRUSSELS2) Eurocorps, Eurofor, Euromarfor, Eurogendfor… the signs are numerous. But the effectiveness does not seem to be there if we read the latest report that the (French) Court of Auditors has just published on European bodies. These bodies are often Europeans in name only, the report indicates, their effectiveness is not there, and the question of their “suppression” must be asked, affirms the Court.

Underemployed forces

For the Court, in addition to the administrative and financial difficulties, the impact of these bodies has not been proven. Because they are largely underemployed. “ The EUROCORPS, and its subordinate force, the Franco-German brigade, have barely been mobilized until now. He has not seen any engagement for six years, that is to say since the intervention in Afghanistan in 2004. “The record of the Franco-German brigade” is hardly better: this brigade provided the fighting heart of a European Union Battle Group in 2008, then it marched on the Champs-Elysées on July 14, 2009. It took part in the alert tour of the Eurocorps in 2010 and probably, the question being still under study, its engagement in Afghanistan in 2012 »

EUROFOR has not been employed since its engagement in Bosnia in 2007. In total, it has only been engaged three times since its creation in 1995, but it has never been deployed as such; its elements were distributed in the general staff on the spot, thus depriving it of all European visibility ". EUROGENDFOR is committed “ since 2007 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where it has armed part of the integrated police unit of the European operation Althea; since December 2009, it has also contributed to the training of the Afghan police within the NATO mission. But in these two cases it is a question of police mission and not of military missions strictly speaking. ».

On the maritime level, EUROMARFOR has been engaged in Lebanon in 2008 (UNIFIL naval), no engagement is planned for the immediate future ". As for the Franco-German Naval Force (FNFA), " she has only been engaged twice since her creation in 1991, the last to date, in the Indian Ocean, dating back to 2005. Since the German navy did not wish to use her for operational missions, her future seems now completely hypothetical »

Bodies that are European only in name

The reality is that these forces have "dEuropean as the name “says the Court. " Their creation responded, for each of them, to a particular situation and to purely national perspectives; created by treaties, their status is not uniform, and their functioning, like the decision to employ them, are governed by the rule of consensus, which means that only one of the Member States can block any decision, which of which, in practice, the States do not deprive themselves. »

In the face of this, the European Union does not have, within the framework of the European security and defense policy, " than a general staff, without a chain of command ". " The establishment of (the EU General Staff), subsequent to the creation of the forces, did not include an institutional link with them. The decision on the employment framework of each force (NATO, EU, UN, OSCE) therefore remains exclusively national. ».

The question of the removal of some of these bodies is posed

The courtyard " questions the reasons justifying the maintenance and development of these permanent military structures ". When an accountant “questions”, we know what that generally means. The conclusion of the report is also clear: “ This structural reflection should be initiated quickly, in order to review all of these systems, with a view to overhauling and reorganizing, or even eliminating »

« The model adopted during the creation, staggered over time, of these various permanent international military corps, no longer corresponds to the current data which characterize cooperation or international military operations at European level, whether in terms of their design, of their organization or their realization »

Comment: France, like certain States, must put their actions in line with their discourse

The Court thus puts its finger on a recurring and essential problem for the European Union: on the one hand, forces without concrete reality and with a “blocking” decision-making process; on the other, an EU General Staff without forces; the two are not connected. There is definitely something of a problem. If European states – such as France, Poland, Germany or Belgium – which constitute both the driving forces of these bodies and say they support the need for a European defense policy, they must bring their actions into conformity with their speeches.

It does not even seem necessary, in this case, to modify the Treaty on European Union. Just reviewing the treaties of these bodies. And to have political commitment. The EU could have, quite quickly, a politico-military command and control center in Brussels, a military headquarters in Strasbourg, linked to active forces (like the EATC which starts in Eindhoven for the air aspect) . All with structures that will remain light, inexpensive, and increased visibility. The work is not small. The path ahead will be strewn with pitfalls. But the Polish presidency which begins next July provides a “great” structuring project for Defense Europe.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

To read the report: “the permanent European military corps”: To download here

NB: This is not the first report from the Court of Auditors. The European military bodies of which France is a part were controlled by the Court in 1996 then in 2003 and in 2007. A summary was even sent to the Minister of Defense on June 18, 2004, noting the “ disparate character and under-use of these bodies ". The Court returned to the subject in its 2008 public report, confirming the "persistence of dysfunctions, on financial disputes, the overall articulation of the different bodies and their lack of visibility ". For the Court, three years later, only the question of financial disputes has been resolved. And, in 2011, prospects for improvement (on other issues) are more than limited".

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).