GETTING SERIOUS ON EUROPEAN DEFENCE?
ASPIRATIONS, POLITICS, CAPABILITIES
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 | 18:00 - 20:00
Renaissance Conference Center | Brussels
Registrations are now closed
Security and defence are once again high on the European agenda. Increasing security threats at the EU borders, and the result of the UK referendum on Brexit, have prompted initiatives to advance European security and defence cooperation. Proposals have been put forward by the High Representative in the new EU Global Strategy as well as jointly by the German and French governments and the Italian government. The European Parliament is working on a report on a European Defence Union and the European Commission is preparing a European Defence Action Plan. Ideas include a European Military Headquarter, the scale-up of EUROCORPS, permanent own European forces, measures to foster cooperation and inter-operability of national forces as well as incentives to the defence industry and funding for R&D projects.
The day after the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council that discussed implementation plans in this field, the European Federalists brought together MEPs, EU officials and defence experts from different backgrounds to explore the political and institutional aspects of the proposals on the table as well as the related military/operational and industrial issues.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DEBATE
- Elmar BROK, Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF)
In the Lisbon Treaty we have instruments available that have not been used, especially because of a Member State that stopped us to do so and that is now going to leave the EU.
We have twenty eight transport helicopters and thirty eight transport tanks within the EU… It is a real joke! More planning has to be done. European citizens have become aware that an incredible amount of public money is being wasted here.
Only politicians thinks in terms of competences, but people reason in terms of solutions, they want to live safe lives and to provide this the European Member States should stick together.
- General (rtd) Vincenzo CAMPORINI, former Chief of the Defence General Staff of the Italian Ministry of Defense, Vice President of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)
Our unity is the best deterrence.
One of the most serious issues is that our countries have not coordinated among themselves the military expenditure, and capabilities. European countries should sit around a table and do a coordinated planning to decide on each country’s specialisation - some country keeping some forces, other countries will keep others. Our countries will be forced to do so at some point. By doing that our countries will be forced to converge not only in defence policy, but in all our policies, including foreign policy.
I am not saying we need to spend more money on defence. We are not exploiting what we have already, because we are not coordinating our policies. The revision of the Athena mechanism is one of the most important things to do to be able to overcome the difficulties we have today. This would be an incentive that would make member states more proactive in financial involvement in missions. Such a revision should avoid the phenomenon of free-riders, countries which enjoy the benefits of missions being carried out, yet without contributing.
Sylvia HARTLEIF, Head of the Foreign Policy team of the European Commission's European Political Strategy Centre
I work for the most outspoken politician on European defence, Jean-Claude Juncker is convinced we will have a European army.
The European Union spends as much as the USA on defence, but reaches only fifteen percent of their efficiency. This is not acceptable.
Urmas PAET, Member of the European Parliament, Rapporteur of the European Defence Union report, former Foreign Minister of Estonia
Unfortunately the practice in Europe is that we need some tragedies to move forward. Only after the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the EU was able to start with the European intelligence agency and we needed refugee crisis to launch a Coast and Border Guard body. We should be more proactive and not wait for any new tragedies to happen to start working on a European defence.
Luis SIMON, Director of the Brussels Office of El Real Instituto Elcano, Professor of International Security at the Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Many politicians think that BREXIT will remove all obstacles to military integration, but I wouldn’t bet the house on that.
A post-event wrap up report as well as a gallery of pictures will be available in the upcoming days.
I hope that this can be useful to you. I’d be glad to discuss any point.
Paolo VACCA, Secretary General of the Union of European Federalists (UEF)