Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

Two newcomers to the European Intervention Initiative

(B2 – exclusive) Our most loyal readers already know this (read: watch diary of 13.09). Norway and Sweden could join the European intervention initiative.

Norwegian soldiers on exercise (credit: MOD Norway – forsvaret.no)

At least, this is one of the subjects put on the table at the ministerial meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Friday 20 September), under the Dutch presidency, at the De Zwaluwenberg estate in Hilversum. Meeting attended by many Ministers of Defense including the French Florence Parly.

If the candidacy of Oslo is not in doubt, that of Stockholm is more discussed, especially in Paris. " The French in particular are not really enthusiastic about the idea of ​​seeing one of the countries which is the least 'operational' » join the initiative, a European source recently told us at B2. Indeed, we have rarely seen the Swedes in European theaters of operations in recent times. The time when Swedish special forces made an impression in the Congo (during Operation Artemis) seems a long time ago (1). But there are strong logics at the geopolitical level: Sweden works a lot bilaterally with Finland, and is closely associated with the Nordic arc. The objective could also be to convince Stockholm to lend a hand to the French, by deploying troops within Operation Barkhane in Mali.

Comment: an IEI less and less 'hard core'

If this news were confirmed tomorrow, the IEI would take a resolutely Nordic turn since from the United Kingdom to Estonia, via Denmark or Finland, all countries more or less from northern Europe will be present.

The IEI (or EI2 according to the English abbreviation) would then have twelve participants. Mythical figure of European construction (the Europe of the single market, the twelve stars of the European flag, etc.).

Italy - consulted at the start of the Initiative but which had failed after the arrival of the Northern League and Salvini to power - could return to the game. Greece would also have been approached.

At the regular pace of the IEI's expansions, it could well have around fifteen participants quite quickly. This would bring it significantly closer, in number of participating countries, to permanent structured cooperation (25 participating countries).

This was not the initial idea of ​​the IEI, initiated by Paris, which wanted a 'hard core' spirit - those who can and want it - unlike the 'inclusive' approach developed within structured cooperation permanent (PESCO) driven mainly by Berlin. This reflects a government shift, driven by Emmanuel Macron, aimed at bringing together different European partners around common projects.

(NGV)

  1. The Swedes have become more involved in the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. Up to 310 soldiers served MINUSMA, in particular by providing a reconnaissance and intelligence unit ( ISR Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) stationed in Timbuktu, and an air detachment based in Bamako.

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).