Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

Parliament secures a parachute to Defense Europe

A freestyle jump from Snd master Yohann Aby, professor at the General Staff of the French Navy (Credit: Dicod / French Ministry of Defense)

(BRUSSELS2) The report adopted by the European Parliament last Wednesday (May 11) advocates a new dynamic in terms of European defense policy. This is atypical at the moment and it deserves an in-depth detour, especially since (for once), this report contains a number of concrete proposals.

Written by the Italian Roberto Gualtieri (S&D), and amended in a fairly consensual manner by the main groups (except the group of the Democratic United Left – GUE), the report draws up, in fact, an uncompromising observation of the European policy of Common Security and Defense (CSDP). These proposals (which we have grouped into ten points) are rather realistic but, at the same time, they may seem daring, given the sluggishness of the moment. The Parliament thus asserts itself as a guardian of the temple, one of the only European institutions to claim, loud and clear, a European defense policy - while the other players in the institutional game (Commission, High Representative, Council) seem rather in the background , or even absent — and to demand the application of the entire Lisbon Treaty, the spirit and the letter…

An uncompromising statement

Far from the reports that boast of good results, the European Parliament puts its finger where it hurts. He thus notes:

  • The " marked contrast between the 200 billion euros spent each year by Member States on defense, the lack of resources available to the EU and the barely prolonged conferences on the creation of a force for military operations of the EU ».
  • « In more than twelve years, the force generation method has in fact produced no quantitative or qualitative improvement in the level of military capabilities available for CSDP missions. »
  • The " poor results obtained by the overall civilian objective for 2010 in terms of civilian capabilities ". There is a " contrast between the staff units made available on paper by the Member States and those actually available for missions, and the limited progress in terms of training human resources ».
  • On the industrial side, the widespread redundancy of defense programs in the Union ". It exists " more than twenty programs focused on armored vehicles, six different programs focused on attack submarines, five programs focused on surface-to-air missiles, and three programs focused on combat aircraft ". Which has the result " the failure to achieve economies of scale, the waste of limited economic resources and the excessively high prices of European defense equipment (…) maintains the fragmentation of the European defense industrial and technological base, hampers the competitiveness of the entire European industrial sector linked to security ».
  • On the operations side, the EUTM Somalia mission was the only new intervention in the last two years ».
  • Finally, " more than a year after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, there is still no apparent sign of a comprehensive post-Lisbon Community approach in which the classic procedural and institutional obstacles would be removed ».

Parliament's strong ideas

Parliament is campaigning for a strong CSDP which is not just the sum of state cooperation. He advocates strategic autonomy for the EU and a new ambition for the CSDP. And he asks the High Representative to take a “proactive” approach. These ideas transcend the report, it should be noted, and are found expressed on various occasions, sometimes in different ways.

Defense Europe is not the coalition of defense policies

« A coalition of wills cannot replace the CSDP, it leads to a renationalisation of policies » explained Roberto Gualtieri, author of the report. “ Coalitions of the willing or bilateral cooperation are not viable solutions to replace the CSDP. No European state has the means to play a significant role in security and defense in the world of the 21ste century ».

A strategic ambition

« The European Union is called upon to improve its strategic autonomy in order to maintain its values, defend its interests and protect its citizens ". " Credible, reliable and available military capabilities are a prerequisite for an autonomous CSDP ».

Parliament wants the European Council to adopt a " European foreign policy strategy adapted to developments in the international system ". A common response to the events in Libya is " an essential » for the credibility of the neighborhood policy in the south such as the development of a strategy for the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa. Which would be a concrete opportunity for the EU to “ demonstrate its capacity for action in the face of challenges in terms of both security and development ».

A “new impetus to the missions”

This is the very term of the Parliament's report. The missions represent the testing ground for the CSDP mandate and an important test for the credibility of the Union as an international actor. The EP recommends in particular to prepare a “ medium and long-term CSDP operation in Libya in the areas of security sector reform, institutional strengthening and border management ».

High Representative, take action!

Without directly questioning the High Representative, the Parliament issues a structured criticism of her action (or rather) of her inaction in matters of defence. The report does not fail to recall that: 1° “ the VP/HR is submitted to the vote of approval of the European Parliament and it adopts by co-decision the EU external action budget ". 2° The powers and responsibilities of the VP/HR “do not only represent a “double hat”, but constitute a fusion of functions and sources of legitimation” which place it “ at the center of the process of building coherence between the various instruments, actors and procedures of the EU's external action ". And Parliament invites the HR to consider its function “ proactively ».

Finnish soldiers on exercise in the far north (credit: Finnish Ministry of Defence)

The ten proposals of the report

Parliament is not content with an incriminating or exculpatory report, it highlights its power of proposals, taking up certain demands previously contained in reports (a White Paper, a Council of Defense Ministers, etc.) and moving forward news (the Crisis Management Council, the holding of a European Council, etc.).

1. Apply the Lisbon Treaty, the letter and the spirit…

Parliament demands the holding of a Extraordinary European Council on European security and defence.

He would also like to see the role of defense ministers strengthened within the framework of the format associated with the “Foreign Affairs Council. He reiterates (without much conviction) his need to write a white paper on European security and defense.

Finally, he would like to see the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty enter into force. He wants to see the development of " policy guidelines on the mutual assistance clause and that a start-up fund be established for preparatory activities in the conduct of military operations.

2. A permanent operations HQ

We must provide " the EU of civil and military planning and a permanent command capability or an operational command post (OPC) ". It is an old antiphon of MEPs. But the report drives the point home, with determination and conviction. " The current Operational Center, even if it represents a first step in the right direction, is insufficient and unsuitable for the degree of ambition of a permanent PCO and must become a permanent center capable of managing more important missions ". The Parliament thus advocates the " grouping of the military PCO with the civilian command post in order to make possible the implementation of all military and civil operations while taking maximum advantage of possible synergies while respecting specific civil and military chains of command ».

3. A Crisis Management Board

The EP wants a " crisis management advice » meets regularly. This council would not be a new structure in itself. It would consist of CMPD, CCPC, EUMS, SITCEN, peacebuilding, conflict prevention, mediation and security policy units, PSC presidency, geographic offices and others thematic structures concerned (…) with the participation of the Commission's humanitarian aid, civil protection and internal security structures depending on the circumstances ».

This advice would be placed under the authority of the VP/HR and the executive general secretary and the meetings would be coordinated by the Managing Director (of) Crisis Response ". It would have two main tasks: unified emergency planning for potential crisis scenes and scenarios "," concretely manage the response to crises, through a crisis platform, by coordinating, both in Brussels and on the ground, the use of the various financial instruments and capacities available to the Union ».

This structure should be equipped with an “effective alert and emergency system”, as well as a “large unified operational room”. This would be located “ at the headquarters of the EEAS, capable of ensuring surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thus avoiding the existence of operational overlaps, which rarely fit with the need to have an adapted system of surveillance and rapid reaction to crises ". Coordination should be ensured with the European Center for Emergency Response.

4. Better funded, better evaluated, more integrated missions…

Better funded. The EP wants a review of the Athena mechanism, in order to “rationalize and increase the share of common costs (which currently stands at around 10%) with a view to a more equitable distribution of the costs of military operations”.

Top rated. The report calls for more solid institutionalized formal mechanisms, which evaluate, at regular intervals and according to common criteria, the conduct of missions in the field ».

More integrated. " Every mission (must be) integrated into a well-defined political strategy (medium and long term). (…) These missions do not replace a real policy ».

Better coordinated. Parliament advocates the strengthening coordination on the ground between the different actors: different missions operating on the same scene, between the CSDP missions and the other actors and instruments of the Union, between the development cooperation projects and the CSDP missions, between the EU and other international actors acting in the same field ».

5. Better trained staff

Parliament proposes a Community mechanism to strengthen civilian capacities, especially through training and increasing the civilian staff of the European Security and Defense College».

6. Review the concept of Battlegroups

It is necessary " seriously review the concept and structure of these groups (tactics), which have not been used so far ". The Parliament is advancing two avenues: 1) the specialization of one of the two tactical groups in niche capabilities and/or capabilities adapted to low intensity conflicts which require hybrid missions (civil/military) ; 2) charging the related operational costs to the Athena mechanism (whose revision is planned under the Polish Presidency).

The specialization of battlegroups in certain functions could be a solution for Parliament (Credit: Swedish Ministry of Defence, Swedish Battlegroup training, March 2011)

7. A research partnership with the Defense Agency

Parliament is campaigning unequivocally for the strengthening of the European Defense Agency, " best able, at Union level, to raise and improve defense capabilities in the field of crisis management and to promote and strengthen European cooperation in the field of armaments ».

He also stresses the need for a close cooperation » between the Agency and the European Commission with a view to strengthening dual-use capabilities (civil and military) and would particularly like Community research funds to be able to “ go more in favor of security and defense projects ". Thus he hopes for the establishment of a solid partnership between all participants for the preparation of the 8e framework program in sight to invest in technological areas of common interest ».

8. Complete the EEAS organizational chart

The Parliament recommends certain adjustments in the current EEAS organization chart. He particularly regrets that this one “ does not include all units responsible for planning and programming crisis response, conflict prevention and peacebuilding in CSDP structures ". And he enacts three demands.

1 ° " Strengthen the operational planning unit for civilian missions of the CPCC ».

2nd " Integrate into the EEAS crisis management and peacebuilding structures the service for foreign policy instruments responsible for planning and programming crisis response measures ". The twelve AD posts and five AST posts from ex Relex/A2 have been integrated into Unit 2 of the new foreign policy instruments. Parliament placed a budgetary reserve in the Commission's budget. And this one does not will be deleted only if this condition is met ».

3 ° " Create a shared services center for the management of PSDC missions ". These are in fact dispersed between unit 3 “CFSP operations of foreign policy instruments” of the Commission (formerly, Relex/A3) and the “mission support” unit of the CPCC. Parliament wants (logically) these units to be brought together. This new service, “ by taking care of the personnel, logistics, purchasing and financial responsibilities of civilian CSDP missions and relieving heads of mission of part of their administrative tasks, would ensure greater efficiency, by pooling administrative functions, from the personnel selection and recruitment process, and by centralizing the acquisition and management of equipment».

9. Develop PE skills

Parliament also wants to defend and extend its powers in matters of foreign policy, considering that the exception contained in the Treaty must be interpreted in a restrictive manner, in particular with regard to international agreements or when the interests of internal and external security are mixed. It also wants to be vigilant about its budgetary control role in terms of missions.

International agreements. Parliament thus wants to be kept informed of international agreements negotiated or concluded in the interest of the European Union. The report cites a particular case: “ agreements relating to the exchange of confidential information ". Parliament's agreement is necessary - he also recalls - " to conclude international agreements, including those relating primarily to the CFSP, with the sole exception of those relating exclusively to it ". This is a regular refrain from Parliament and the Member States are reluctant to do so. We know that the battle will not stop tomorrow and will end, one day, before the Court of Justice of the EU.

Interior and exterior security. The Parliament considers that various sectors such as terrorism, organized crime and cyber-security, have implications in both dimensions of security, internal and external. In this case, he believes that all initiatives that would have a double impact could not " be launched (only) within the framework of ordinary Community internal competence i.e. with an "identified" legal basis, the qualified majority rule in the Council, with co-decision in the European Parliament and judicial control by the Court of Justice

Mission Control. Parliament finally reiterates its demand to allocate a budget line to each PSDC mission to better control spending. Incidentally, he worries about high costs of mission security oriented measures in EUJUST LEX Iraq and EUPOL Afghanistan outsourced to private security companies ". The question should come up during the budget debate.

10. An EU presence in the UN Security Council

Parliament wants the High Representative to ensure the representation of the EU and to convince the Member States to " agree on a rotation system that will guarantee the Union a permanent seat on the UNSC ».

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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).