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The Nobel in hand. And now to work! No more ostrich politics

(BRUSSELS2) The Nobel Prize reminds European leaders that the European Union is not just a euro zone in crisis or a simple market, it is also an actor in prevention, a peacemaker, a global presence. The torch has been left a little aside. It must now be taken up and carried with more ambition and determination than in recent years.

1st task: implement the Lisbon Treaty

I engaged in a small analysis (published on the B2 club), only two main provisions of Lisbon have so far entered into force: the European External Action Service and the appointment of a new High Representative. Two important points because they concern structures. We can also note the adaptation of the status of the European Defense Agency and its repositioning at the crossroads of industry and operations, through the development of pooling and sharing (which remains, however, dependent on the will of States members and a limitation of its means From the point of view of legal and political instruments, the results look like 0 points. Both the solidarity clause and the launch fund or rapid access to funding from the European Union ( Article 41.3 TEU) are awaiting a proposal either from the High Representative and the Commission, or from the High Representative. And we are close to a “deficiency” in the political sense of the term. The mutual assistance clause has not given rise to any debate. nor implementing measures We therefore do not know how this clause can be put into force, which poses a singular problem for non-NATO countries, particularly in the event of a possible deterioration in the situation between Turkey and Syria. by “ricochet” reach the small island of Cyprus. The same goes for negotiating partnerships with international organizations (UN, etc.). Finally, no provision provided for in the Treaty allowing à la carte progress (reinforced cooperation, permanent structured cooperation, group of nations) has been put into force.

2nd task: examine the means of Europeans

We must stop hiding our faces. Europe no longer has, or will no longer have in some time, the means to achieve its ambitions. Drastic reforms are already underway and others will still be necessary in all European armies as well as in most European states. With the crisis helping, and budgetary constraints following, most member states have to tighten the screw, significantly, and for many years. Concretely, this means a certain delay in terms of equipment renewal. But also a limitation of operational resources. Asia has already overtaken Europe in terms of spending. At the rate this is going, in ten years, Europe will be a dwarf in terms of defense. The objectives set by the European Union for the availability of forces are not ready to be achieved. Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, intended to put the question of defense at the summit in December… 2013! It's late, very late. At this time, most of the important choices will have been ratified at the national level. And it will be very difficult to go back. A dangerous wait-and-see attitude.

Task 3: Assess Threats

Since 2003 and the first security strategy, since 2008 and its (very slight) revision, and even since 2009 entry into force of the new institutions born from the Treaty of Lisbon, the situation in Europe and in the world has changed, if not completely, at least largely. evolved. Europe has sunk into a crisis which is no longer cyclical but structural, its recovery will not take a few months but several years (a decade at the very least). The Arab world (Maghreb, Middle East) is in rapid turmoil. Asian countries (China, India, etc.) are in an ascending phase. The United States is turning to Asia. Russia wants to regain its place in the global concert. In short, we are facing a new tectonic shock. It is high time to deeply evaluate this new whole that is being born, the threats, our priorities. The Lisbon Treaty had precisely provided for an assessment of threats by the European Council on a regular basis. The item must be put on the agenda quickly. And it will undoubtedly be necessary to undertake in-depth work just as quickly, such as a “white paper” or “review” in the European style. The aim is not to review the European security strategy, but to supplement it with a more operational document

4th task: stop dawdling, know how to react in time

The European Union was taken by surprise in Libya and did little in terms of preventing the crisis or maintaining the peace (apart from classic humanitarian action). Even today, it has not succeeded in setting up an action to assist the country's security forces. In the Sahel, while a mission was in the works, it was overtaken by AQIM and the internal rebellion which significantly destabilized Mali. In the west of Africa, maritime piracy is about to acquire a . Each time, Europe had the instruments, the possibility to act, and even thought about it (if necessary in a practical way by planning or studying options for action). Each time, she was overtaken by time. It is no longer possible today to procrastinate and think for 4 years (as with the Eucap Niger mission) to set up a mission. You have to decide to go there. Or give up taking action by accepting the consequences.

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).