EU Defense (Doctrine)

A discretion or solidarity clause?

(BRUSSELS2) It was with total discretion that the European Commission and the High Representative adopted a “paper” on Christmas Eve. It was one of the most notable advances in foreign policy and security. But it received no publicity. And we had to wait until mid-January for this paper to be sent to the Council of Ministers of the EU. We knew that the delivery of this paper had been difficult, with “corridor battles” opposing the EEAS (the European diplomatic service) and the European Commission, to have leadership of the project. Finally, reading the project, we rather have the feeling that it is the “community” option which prevailed over the “diplomatic” option. But this is only a first impression, which will certainly need to be “refined”.

The clause – based on Article 222 of the Treaty – applies “ in the event of disasters and terrorist attacks on EU territory, whether land territory, territorial sea or airspace ". It applies regardless of whether whether the origin of the crisis is inside or outside the EU ". The clause also applies to: 1) ships (navigating in international waters), 2) aircraft (flying in international airspace) and 3) critical infrastructure (such as offshore oil and gas installations) that fall within the jurisdiction of a Member State. It can thus be noted that the proposal retains a fairly narrow, territorial (or flag) definition of the notion of attack on a Member State. It forgets, in my opinion, the notion of an attack against an establishment of a Member State outside the EU (embassy, ​​school, etc.). A Drakkar type attack in Lebanon or In Amenas in Algeria can always arise and exceed the capacities of the Member State involved. In this case, the solidarity clause would not apply. A bit limited...

Detailed analysis of the text on the B2 club (subscribers). To subscribe online, click here

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).