May 8, 2009
Towards a New Front Line
On the military map, no country in the EU has the financial means; technological capacity, and human resources to effectively ensure its own defence. By sharing, pooling together, and cooperating, it is possible to do much better. It is the same situation on the level of security, for example in the fights against trans-national crime, terrorism, pandemics, and natural disasters.
European states’ common interest in cooperation is obvious: they need to adapt to globalisation and only geographic alliances of sufficient size and population are on a scale to face these new challenges. It would be illusory, however, to think that all of Europe’s particular interests could converge simultaneously. There will be, locally and on certain questions, losers – short term ones. These losers, for the sake of justice and equality, should be compensated according to the magnitude of their temporary losses. Those, for example, who will no longer have jobs in their country because we relocated the production of military equipment to another country in the Union to achieve greater over-all efficiency at the European level, should be assisted until they have succeeded in restructuring.
The collection of a majority interest, which is truly vital, would allow us to move past national egoism. This is how the states of America united in the 18th century. They wanted to escape the tutelage of the British as it became unbearable. The economic and financial crises could prove to be similar “releases.” But it is a shame to wait for major catastrophes and wars in order to advance because they create far too many victims. Europe therefore needs to propose, effective immediately, a project capable of mobilising enthusiasm and energy, of surpassing national interests – a project capable of creating an American-styled “New Frontier” on a new but peaceful front line.
Responsibility and Solidarity Europe
Europe therefore has many interests. But these should include solidarity and responsibility. Europe has a duty to the international community because of its economic weight, its prosperity (now relative), its population and its human values. This is a delicate point, because Europe can no longer give the impression that it wishes to dominate other civilisations arrogantly, imposing its standards and giving lessons to others.
Because of its interest, and responding to its duty, the European Union needs a high-performance security and defence tool, adapted to its threats and set at an affordable price. Beyond the Common European Security and Defence Policy, it must now actively target the relevant measures in the Treaty of Lisbon, which means progressively defining a common European defence policy which will actually lead to common defence. This can begin once the European Council unanimously adopts such a decision.
The Necessary Participation of Citizens
There cannot be a spirit of European defence without citizens’ participation in a Union-wide project and without a deep sense of common destiny. We must therefore bridge the existing divide between elites and the body of citizens while quelling the fears of those who have doubt and establishing confidence. This depends on a communication policy that responds to this need. Education needs to be prioritised as one of main links providing an early training on the advantages of a larger and more integrated Europe. This would work by setting objectives rather than imposing detailed programmes at each level.
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Without sufficient capacity, complimentary to NATO for those who are part of it, European security and defence will not evolve favourably. The two organisations, NATO and the EU, are not incompatible. The Alliance needs a strong Europe. The Common European Security and Defence Policy has achieved incontestable successes in the Balkans and Africa but these are operations of limited magnitude. Europe needs to become a military power consistent with the weight of its economy and its population. It is not necessary to become over-powerful, but it needs to have necessary and sufficient capacity at its disposal in order to participate in the collective security of our planet while strictly adhering to the international laws governing armed conflict. It needs to reinforce the combination of military and civil tools that make it strong in order maintain and restore – not to say impose – peace, and also to prevent violence, treat the sources of conflict, and reconstruct lawful states.
Streamlining and Financing
The strengthening of the Union’s military capacities requires the streamlining of community weapons systems. This depends on the streamlining of the industrial and technological capacity for defence in Europe. The European Defence Agency is an excellent tool but it needs to be given, unlike in today’s case, financial means as well as the support of member states and the EU institutions in order to succeed. The first step is to harmonise military needs, which should not be difficult since the operations are joint.
The financial burden needs to be shared equitably by all member-states, who should devote an equal share of their GDP to defence (on the order of 2%). For the sake of being realistic, conformity with what is already foreseen in the Treaty of Lisbon, we should ad least implement permanent structured cooperation, allowing states to choose to allot more resources and means to the security and defence of the union.
We call for:
Recognition of the importance of the Common European Security and Defence Policy, to the point where the common interest of member-states in uniting together and joining their forces meets with Europe’s responsibility to participate in the peace and safety of the world.
Achieving the objective inscribed in the Treaty of Lisbon of the full implementation of a common defence for the Union once the European Council unanimously agrees on this question.
Reinforce the mandate and capacity of the European Defence Agency with an eye towards streamlining the industrial and technological base for defence in Europe.
Use permanent structured cooperation, for instance an appeal to the 27 states to devote more resources to security and defence.
Encourage all citizens to adhere to the project of the Union by bridging the divide between elites and the general population, by quelling fears and establishing confidence through an adapted communication policy.Author : Challenge for Europe