Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

The Italian and German ministers want to strengthen European Defense

Giampaolo di Paola and Thomas de Maizière at the last Council of Defense Ministers of the Atlantic Alliance (credit: NATO, February 2012)

(BRUSSELS2) A few days before the NATO summit in Chicago, two defense ministers, the Italian Di Paola, and the German De Maizière have just signed in the Courier a joint article presenting " Five goals " for " Extending common European defense ". For the two men, their conviction is made: “ The EU has much more to offer than it has so far, and perhaps more than some think ". And they take as an example the policy currently being pursued in the Horn of Africa (with not only Operation Atalanta, the training of Somali soldiers and the strengthening of local maritime capacities but also humanitarian aid and development aid) . It's a " school case they point out.

In general, effective coordination between Member States and within EU institutions for the management of existing civilian and military capabilities "is lacking today" specify Di Paola and De Maizière. A commitment to strengthen European civil and military capabilities is therefore “ toilet bag ". This also includes the " strengthening integration » between EU institutions for defense and security and their ability to conduct missions and operations ". Europe must take a step forward. “ It is time to expand the scope of common security and defense » and to have a more “ efficient and comprehensive in order to pursue our common interests with our Atlantic partners”. The two signatories thus see five objectives to be assumed:

  • First principle: Commitment. Europe will be required to assume ever greater responsibilities in the field of security “, the Americans giving a” greater strategic importance » in the Pacific. The commitment European engagement already exists in the Balkans and Africa. The contribution of the European Union as a partner on the ground will be “ all the more necessary in the future ».
  • Second principle: The global approach [comprehensiveness]. The " The European Union's specific strength is its ability to apply this civil-military approach in a unified manner.. " Maintaining a lasting security situation can only be guaranteed through broad interaction between diplomatic, economic, developmental, social, political and military means.. (Nb: the military concept comes last in this list).
  • Third principle: Capabilities. This is undoubtedly the most important paragraph (in my opinion) because both signatories call for closer integration and cooperation between EU member states, going beyond national interests and accepting reciprocal dependence. “ If we do not integrate our defense efforts, no individual State, and even Europe as a whole, will ever be able to guarantee its long-term security. they point out. " Closer and stronger cooperation between European states is necessary for both economic and strategic reasons. If we fail to coordinate our plans for national defense, we run the risk of loss of capability. It is all the more important to coordinate national planning at the international level. The prerequisite is to overcome reservations at the national level and prepare to abandon certain skills and accept mutual dependence. » (Nb: this is undoubtedly the most important point).
  • Fourth principle: complementarity between the EU and NATO. These two organizations “should be seen as complementary and not in competition. " Both organizations have their merits: the European Union emphasizes civil-military and NATO on a collective defense alliance. » Strengthening the European defense industry will strengthen the entire Euro-Atlantic community.
  • Fifth and final principle: cooperation, with international organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union and the Association of South Asian Nations must be " expanded and intensified ».

Comment: Germany and Italy signed a declaration of bilateral cooperation in November 2011. A little also out of spite for the signing of the Franco-British cooperation agreements. By inviting Europeans to move “towards a solid European security architecture”, they are also sending a non-subliminal message to the new French government to broaden its horizon and consider a new qualitative and quantitative leap towards its European partners. The problem, however, is that these two countries – Italy and Germany – have drastically limited some of their operational means. This is a disadvantage today. It could be an asset tomorrow. It is now up to Paris to grasp what can be interpreted as an outstretched hand (let's consider the bright side of things...).

(*) this is an unofficial translation, carried out by me, of the text published in Italian. Thomas de M. and Giampaolo di P. will not blame me, I hope for some approximations in the translation. But the main thing is there, I hope :)

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 Italian and German ministers want to strengthen European Defense"

  • It will be necessary to set up a large European army which will be able to face future threats in Europe and in the world.

  • For Mr Nicolas Gros-Verheyde:
    “The problem, however, is that these two countries – Italy and Germany – have drastically limited some of their operational means. It is a disadvantage today. It could be an asset tomorrow.”

    I admit to having some difficulty – and the word is weak – in understanding how the drastic reduction of certain operational means of two countries as important in Europe as Germany and Italy could represent, in any way, an advantage to short, medium or long term, for the European Union or for the other Member States.

    In my humble opinion, this means that other countries, I am thinking above all of the United Kingdom, France and Spain, will have to take on their political, human and financial shoulders the burden of the operational capacities of which other countries will be discarded.

    Could you please let me know your opinion and your expertise on this point?

    Thank you for the attention you can give to my message.

    Very respectfully,

    Nicholas F.

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