“Europe in danger”: why did the EU need a first defense strategy?

What is the EU Strategic Compass?

At the summit in Brussels, the leaders of EU countries approved the EU Strategic Compass, the community’s first defense strategy. In fact, this is an action plan in the field of security for the near future, where the union countries can raise their own level. Work on it has been carried out for the past two years, and now it will continue regularly – the next “compass” will be born in 2025.

The title of the document “Strategic Compass” makes sense – the 42-page document, somewhat classified, offers a broad overview of the causes of EU security concerns on all fronts. In the foreground, of course, were the conflicts in Russia and related Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

At the same time, Politico writes that the document focused on this issue after the start of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine. In the original draft of the document prepared in November last year, Russia was not mentioned as a threat in any way.

During these four months, the total number of citations to the Russian Federation in the entire document increased from 6 to 19. Expressions of the need to interact with Russia on “some special issues” also disappeared.

The adopted document also noted the historic decision of the EU to provide, for the first time, approximately €500 million in military aid to Ukraine.

The listed threats also include China, the unstable situation in the Western Balkans, Islamic terrorism in the African Sahara-Sahel region, conflicts in the Middle East, problems in the Arctic, Indo-Pacific region and Latin America. There are also threats to the EU from cyberspace and even from outer space.

At the same time, there is nothing revolutionary in terms of proposals, even on paper – the European Union has not begun to create a full-fledged army.

Now the EU’s military expenditure is 1.5% of GDP, or 200 billion Euros. According to top European diplomat Josep Borrell, that’s nearly four times Russia’s military spending and nearly the same as China’s defense spending. But Brussels believes this is not enough.

“We should spend more and we should spend better,” Borrell said.

How will the EU protect itself?

The document summarizes the EU’s future work in four points: swift and decisive action in crisis situations; protect citizens from rapidly changing threats; investment in skills and technology; To cooperate with other countries and organizations to achieve common goals.

The program includes a special plan for the creation of the rapid deployment force of the European Union – capable of quickly deploying up to 5,000 troops in the event of various types of crisis. Germany has already offered to form the backbone of such soldiers from its army.

The second innovation point in European security is the conduct of regular exercises in realistic conditions that have never been done before at EU level.

More streamlined goals are to strengthen command and control mechanisms, encourage faster and more flexible decision-making, and increase the ability to combat cyber threats, disinformation and outside interference.

Investments in “next generation capabilities” and strategic defense tools are planned. For these purposes, a new center will be established in the European Defense Agency.

In addition, the European Union will work on its own space strategy.

Yet NATO remains, predictably, still among its goals to develop partnerships through more “structured political dialogue” and operational cooperation. Partner countries include the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, the Western Balkans, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“A more hostile security environment requires that we take a qualitative step and increase our ability and readiness to take action,” the European Council said in a statement on the adopted defense concept.

Borrell promised to “push” all EU members to achieve results in practice.

“Europe is in danger – we must act,” he said, referring to open hostilities in Ukraine.

Borrell urged not to call the “Strategic Compass” a simple document usually drawn up in Brussels, because in this case mandatory actions were foreseen for all states with clear deadlines.

Will the EU be able to get rid of its dependence on NATO?

The experts interviewed by socialbites.ca agree that the adopted EU security roadmap does not allow us to talk about a new historical stage in the history of the alliance.

Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia’s Global Affairs magazine, in an interview with socialbites.ca, drew attention to the meaninglessness of assumptions about the future of the European Union in the military field.

“At the moment, this is a purely symbolic step to show that the era of the EU’s withdrawal from military-political activity is over. Now they understand that this is the most important part of their job, and they will.

But these same Europeans are aware of the dependence on NATO and say that the alliance is needed more than ever. In my opinion, there are fears that priorities may change in Europe, in America, at the next stage of political development, as, for example, under Donald Trump. “But I don’t see any option yet to move away from NATO’s military-political dominance,” he said.

Pavel Zolotarev, vice-president of the USA and Canada Institute, also believes that it is too early to talk about a possible departure of EU countries from NATO dependence, but he is not ready to name the new EU program symbolically.

“It is clear that in the past all the structures of the European Union being formed are still used by NATO to control the course of military operations. I don’t think the current strategy is a symbolic move. “Measures have been taken to improve our own security, but it is still difficult to say to what extent they will be implemented.”

Oleg Barabanov, program director of the Valdai Discussion Club, told Gazeta.ru that the EU’s attempts to create a joint military force can be considered “a very long story”, which periodically gains new momentum.

“Since the late 1990s, the EU has been declaring its own defense policy, its autonomy from NATO. But in fact, because this bond is so strong, they haven’t been able to do anything up until now. For example, in the early 2000s, under the pressure of the Americans, it was accepted that the EU carried out peacekeeping operations only where and when NATO wanted.

The new strategy is not the first document of its kind. For example, in 2016, a global strategy for the foreign and security policy of the European Union was already adopted. In reality, however, it is unlikely that EU countries will decide to withdraw from NATO in the presence of a threat from Russia. They can’t and they don’t want to. For a long time, any movement towards EU independence was blocked, first by Britain and Poland, and now by Eastern European countries. “So they can write this type of text as much as they want, the problem is that things don’t go any further,” he said.

The leaders of EU countries approved the first defense concept in the history of the organization. The planned steps will help Brussels become self-sufficient in its security and stop relying entirely on NATO. However, according to experts, the EU’s ability to maneuver in defense matters will be limited in the coming years. “socialbites.ca” – about whether the EU wants to defend itself and whether it can.

Source: Gazeta


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