Security and Defence is a topic which only makes it to the front pages of the media when there are actual war operations. Rarely a debate is centered on whether the country needs to foster its capabilities, invest in new defence technologies, or protect a certain industry base. I cannot recall a single electoral programme calling for such initiatives. The defence is not popular in today’s (European) society.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Sun Tzu
Despite of that, and even if some Europeans take them today for granted, defence and security are no less crucial than many other public services which we expect States to provide us. As Javier Solana (former EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of NATO and Foreign Minister of Spain) put it few days ago in an article titled “Globalizing European Security“:
Global security – a safe and peaceful environment free of conflict – is a public good. In other words, all of the world’s citizens and countries benefit from it, regardless of whether they contribute to supplying it. Given this, free riders (those who enjoy the benefits of the good without investing in its provision) are likely to be plentiful. But, when it comes to global stability, the world simply cannot afford a free-riding Europe.
This obviously includes Europe: Europe cannot afford a free-riding Europe. As Anders Fogh Rasmussen (current Secretary-General of NATO and former Prime Minister of Denmark) put it yesterday:
I truly believe that we should do much more to educate society in the importance of peace, security and defence as goods to be protected and spread, so they can be better valued and supported.
Having said that, yesterday took place the first session of a 2-day EU Council in which one of the main topics to be dealt with was Security and Defence. Apart from the one cited above, there have been plenty of interesting articles in days prior to the meeting calling for decisions and actions to be taken by the council. To name a few:
EUCO conclusions on Defence, December 19, 2013 [PDF, 118KB]
In this post I just want to bring the European Council conclusions [PDF, 118KB] as already published and outline some of the passages.
2. The EU and its Member States must exercise greater responsibilities in response to those challenges if they want to contribute to maintaining peace and security through CSDP […]. The European Council calls on the Member States to deepen defence cooperation by improving the capacity to conduct missions and operations and by making full use of synergies in order to improve the development and availability of the required civilian and military capabilities, supported by a more integrated, sustainable, innovative and competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). This will also bring benefits in terms of growth, jobs and innovation to the broader European industrial sector.
4. […] the European Council has identified a number of priority actions built around three axes: increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP; enhancing the development of capabilities and strengthening Europe’s defence industry.
5. […] The European Union and its Member States can bring to the international stage the unique ability to combine, in a consistent manner, policies and tools ranging from diplomacy, security and defence to finance, trade, development and justice. […]
8. […] The European Council emphasises the need to improve the EU rapid response capabilities, including through more flexible and deployable EU Battle groups […]
9. New security challenges continue to emerge. […] the European Council calls for:
- an EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework in 2014 […]
- an EU Maritime Security Strategy by June 2014 […]
- increased synergies between CSDP and Freedom/Security/Justice actors […]
- progress in developing CSDP support for third states and regions […]
- further strengthening cooperation to tackle energy security challenges.
10. Cooperation in the area of military capability development is crucial to maintaining key capabilities, remedying shortfalls and avoiding redundancies. Pooling demand, consolidating requirements and realising economies of scale will allow Member States to enhance the efficient use of resources and ensure interoperability, […]
11. The European Council remains committed to delivering key capabilities […]. Bearing in mind that the capacities are owned and operated by the Member States, it welcomes:
- the development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the 2020-2025 timeframe: preparations for a programme of a next-generation European Medium Altitude Long Endurance RPAS; the establishment of an RPAS user community among the participating Member States owning and operating these RPAS; close synergies with the European Commission on regulation (for an initial RPAS integration into the European Aviation System by 2016); appropriate funding from 2014 for R&D activities;
- the development of Air-to-Air refuelling capacity: progress towards increasing overall capacity and reducing fragmentation, especially as regards the establishment of a Multi-Role Tanker Transport capacity, with synergies in the field of certification, qualification, in-service support and training;
- Satellite Communication […]
- Cyber: developing a roadmap and concrete projects […]
13. The European Council welcomes the existing cooperative models, such as the European Air Transport Command (EATC), and encourages Member States to explore ways to replicate the EATC model in other areas.
14. […] It encourages the further development of incentives for and innovative approaches to such cooperation, including by investigating non market-distorting fiscal measures in accordance with existing European law. […]
16. Europe needs a more integrated, sustainable, innovative and competitive defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB) to develop and sustain defence capabilities. This can also enhance its strategic autonomy and its ability to act with partners. The EDTIB should be strengthened to ensure operational effectiveness and security of supply, while remaining globally competitive and stimulating jobs, innovation and growth across the EU. These efforts should be inclusive with opportunities for defence industry in the EU, […]
17. A well-functioning defence market based on openness, equal treatment and opportunities, and transparency for all European suppliers is crucial. […] with a view to opening up the market for subcontractors from all over Europe, ensuring economies of scale and allowing a better circulation of defence products.
18. To ensure the long-term competitiveness of the European defence industry and secure the modern capabilities needed, it is essential to retain defence Research & Technology (R&T) expertise, especially in critical defence technologies. The European Council invites the Member States to increase investment in cooperative research programmes, […]. Civilian and defence research reinforce each other, including in key enabling technologies and on energy efficiency technology. The European Council therefore welcomes the Commission’s intention to evaluate how the results under Horizon 2020 could also benefit defence and security industrial capabilities. […] to develop proposals to stimulate further dual use research. […]