“Let’s revitalize the common defense policy” say Ten ministers

(BRUSSELS2) Forgotten in the architecture of the Lisbon Treaty, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs have found a new role at European level: serving as idea boxes. Thus, under the leadership of Guido Westerwelle, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, they focus on the " future of Europe ". Roadmap of the ten ministers: “ draw lessons from the current debt crisis and see how the European Union can be more efficient and more democratic ».

The report on these discussions is expected in September. But an “interim” report of 8 pages already gives, by way of initial reflection, the first tracks on economic governance, democratic efficiency and… foreign policy. And what leads! On the menu, grouping a single head for the President of the Council and the President of the Commission, setting up a Chamber of States (with the European Parliament and the national parliaments), … and at the level of foreign and defense policy (which is of particular interest to us), qualified majority, revitalization, regrouping, pooling or even… European army!

A “Germanic” reflection

This thinking is not entirely new. Many personalities have reflected on the future of Europe on several occasions. If the work is still very theoretical, with great ideas. But this time, rather than considering a new legislative framework, the ministers wished " concentrate their proposals within the framework of the existing treaties”. The third meeting of its kind, in Berlin on June 19, brought together around ten ministers from the center (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland) and from southern Europe (Italy, Portugal and Spain).

France took part in this work through its ambassador. The minister was “retained by other obligations” assured me a tricolor diplomat. At the first meetings, too, France was not represented at ministerial rank. It must be admitted that this reflection on political union is not yet really felt as a priority by Paris: by the Sarkozy team because it was not his software of thought, by the Hollande team because it arrives and is also caught up in a delicate debate resulting from the referendum on the Constitution between 'nonists' and 'yesists' that the President does not really wish to reopen. The wounds are not yet closed. And the former secretary general of the party knows how much this debate has cost in divisions and lost time. On foreign policy issues, however, France should have no difficulty in acquiescing (almost) to most of the points raised, since they meet many of the concerns of the “Weimar” (the five signatory countries of the “letter from Weimar ”).

Be more ambitious on defense policy

The “Ten” thus want a “ Europe more engaged in the world (the German term “Globaler Spieler Europa” hits harder). Certain issues such as development aid, migration control, climate negotiations, energy security and trade policy should be linked to CFSP and CSDP. The European diplomatic service must continue to be strengthened “, the next step being the revision of the decision founding this service in 2013. “ To make progress, we need to make the right choices now they point out, however. We must also seek to have "common seats" in international organizations. We must continue on the path to be able to always speak louder outside with a voice ". The 10 plan to take more decisions in the field of CFSP at the " qualified majority ". A little revolution...

Towards a European army

The “Ten” affirm above all the need for a “ revitalization of security and common defense ". The « mostly “ Ministers thus display “ ambitious goals in matters of defense policy. This goes through " strengthen the civil and military planning and conduct capabilities of the European Defense Agency, with more sharing and joint exploitation of capabilities”. We must review – they add – these “ possibilities of pooling and sharing capacities ". In the long term, we should aim for a European defense policy with an articulation of the efforts of the armaments industry ”, which could also include for “ some " Member States “a European army”.

download the report in B2 Docs

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).