EU Defence and Security Policy: From Global Strategy to PESCO

EU Defence and Security Policy: From Global Strategy to PESCO

Pulaski Policy Paper No. 1, 2018.  January 05, 2018

 

The 2016 EU Global Strategy (EUGS) provided a major stimulus to actions of the European Council, the Commission and the European Parliament in the field of security policy. Undoubtedly, the establishment of the Permanent Structural Cooperation (PESCO) in late 2017 has been the most important step in the implementation of the Strategy so far.[i]

Road to PESCO

In March 2017, the Council of the European Union conducted a preliminary assessment of the EUGS implementation plan.[ii] At the same time, the European Union approved a concept to strengthen capabilities related to operational planning and coordination of missions and operations within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).[iii] In practical terms, the European Union’s decision means the establishment of a new unit, that is the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), within the EU Military Staff. This new structure will be responsible for the operational planning, coordination and command of EU military missions and operations at the strategic level. It is worth noting that the MPCC will only embrace the so-called non-executive operations (such as training, advisory and humanitarian missions) supporting actions of a host nation. Among other important steps undertaken by the European Union, it is worth emphasizing work on the implementation of PESCO, the introduction of the EU Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) as well as regular meetings of ministers of defence. [iv]

The EU Global Strategy has been implemented in political, economic and international dimension. The political sphere of the strategy is implemented in the field of defence and security and coordinated by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The European Commission is responsible for the economic sphere included in the European Defence Action Plan. The international dimension of the strategy is related to the implementation of provisions included in EU-NATO agreements by all relevant institutions of the Community.

The implementation of the Strategy in the field of security and defence

Currently, ‘The Implementation Plan on Security and Defence’ is the most important introductory document related to the EU security and defence strategy.[v] Based on the aforementioned document, the EU ambition is to develop capabilities within the framework of the three strategic priorities: 1) responding to external conflicts and crises when they arise; 2) building the capacities of partners; 3) protecting the European Union and its citizens through external action.

The first point, that is responding to external conflicts and crises, embraces all tasks relating to military and civilian crisis management. Its main objective is to strengthen the EU role in conflict prevention and crisis management through procedures of the Common Security and Defence Policy at each stage of conflict. Enhanced capabilities of the EU in this field are supposed to promote peace and security based on rules of the international law and the United Nations. Building the capacities of partners is expected to be achieved through military training and advisory missions. The last point, protecting the European Union and its citizens through external action, concerns tasks such as a) securing critical infrastructure; b) ensuring external border security and enhancing these capabilities among partner states; c) building civil defence and a system to tackle natural disasters; d) ensuring stable global access to cyberspace, airspace, sea-space and marine resources as well as outer space; e) countering hybrid threats;[vi] f) developing cyber security capability; preventing and countering terrorism and radicalism;[vii] g) developing counter-smuggling practices; h) countering illegal migration; i) strengthening the non-proliferation regime as well as countering illicit arms trafficking and combating organised crime. The launch of the Permanent Structured Cooperation based on Protocol 10 and Articles 42.6 and 46 of the Treaty on the European Union is of fundamental importance to the political implementation of the EU Global Strategy.[viii]

European Defence Action Plan

The ‘European Defence Action Plan’ is the second key document as far as the implementation of the EU Global Strategy is concerned. The plan is focused on providing EU member states with essential military capabilities and supporting European defence industry. To improve the efficiency of military spending the European Commission established and launched the European Defence Fund based on two complementary but separate pillars. The ‘research window’ is designed to fund collaborative research projects as part of the long-term EU budget after 2020. The ‘capability window’, on the other hand, will support the joint development of defence capabilities agreed by member states. The fund will be based on national contributions; however, in certain cases the support of the EU budget will be also possible. Given that innovations and highly-sophisticated military technologies play a key role in the 21st century, the fund is of primary importance as far as the EU security is concerned.[ix]

Besides increasing innovativeness and competitiveness of the industrial base, the European Union puts an emphasis on financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other non-traditional participants of the defence supply chain in order to support investments in the defence sector and to strengthen foundations of the common defence market. In June 2017, the European Council agreed on the need to implement the ‘European Defence Industrial Development Programme”.[x]

Joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation

Undoubtedly, the implementation of the joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation signed on June 8th 2016 at the NATO Warsaw Summit[xi] is one of the fundamentals of the European defence strategy. The declaration emphasises seven priorities in terms of cooperation between the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation:

  • Boost our ability to counter hybrid threats, including by bolstering resilience, working together on analysis, prevention, and early detection, through timely information sharing and, to the extent possible, intelligence sharing between staffs; and cooperating on strategic communication and response.
  • Broaden and adapt our operational cooperation including at sea, and on migration, through increased sharing of maritime situational awareness as well as better coordination and mutual reinforcement of our activities in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.
  • Expand our coordination on cyber security and defence including in the context of our missions and operations, exercises and on education and training.
  • Develop coherent, complementary and interoperable defence capabilities of EU Member States and NATO Allies, as well as multilateral projects.
  • Facilitate a stronger defence industry and greater defence research and industrial cooperation within Europe and across the Atlantic.
  • Step up our coordination on exercises, including on hybrid, by developing as the first step parallel and coordinated exercises for 2017 and 2018.
  • Build the defence and security capacity and foster the resilience of our partners in the East and South in a complementary way through specific projects in a variety of areas for individual recipient countries, including by strengthening maritime capacity.

 

In December 2016, the European Union and NATO approved a joint plan of action embracing approximately 40 tasks.[xii] According to the joint report published in June 2017, the implementation of the aforementioned objectives had been validated by both organisations.[xiii] Furthermore, the scope of cooperation was subsequently extended in December 2017.[xiv]

Systematic cooperation between the EU and NATO has become the main determinant of Euro-Atlantic security in the face of the “new hybrid cold war” and increasingly complex security threats.[xv] Therefore, the establishment of the EU–NATO tandem seems an appropriate response to contemporary and future issues.[xvi]

Hopefully the efforts of both organisations are a major milestone in building such a framework. However, the cooperation between the EU and NATO should not be limited to joint declarations relating to coordination mechanisms in specific areas. It seems necessary to implement a clear and more rational division of tasks between the two organisations to make them complementary to each other instead of duplicating one another’s functions and thus creating rivalry. Closer EU–NATO cooperation ought to embrace all actions in the field of political, economic and military security. Perhaps the most reasonable way to strengthen the EU–NATO tandem in the field of defence and security cooperation is to establish a common EU-NATO security council as a political decision-making body consisting of the European Council and the North Atlantic Council.[xvii]

Possible scenarios for the future of the EU strategic planning process

Latterly, the European Union has been playing a more proactive role. It seems clear that the EU seeks to become an organised strategic entity. This situation does beg the question of how effective such a policy can be and whether the PESCO initiative can be seen as a remedy.

In early June 2017, the European Commission published ‘The Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence’ approved by Vice-Presidents of the Commission, F. Mogherini and J. Katainen.[xviii] The report contains three scenarios relating to the establishment of the European Security and Defence Union over the next decade. The EU member states could implement one of the following scenarios depending on their political willingness:

  1. a) Security and Defence Cooperation. The first scenario is based on continuous, voluntary cooperation, with a limited role of the EU institutions, depending on needs and issues faced by the Union.
  2. b) Shared Security and Defence. The EU member states would show far greater financial and operational solidarity in the field of security and defence, but also cede some competencies to the EU institutions in certain areas, particularly those relating to non-military threats such as counterterrorism and cyber security. This option also embraces systematic, long-term cooperation in the field of defence industry.
  3. c) Common Defence and Security. The last scenario is based on deepened cooperation and integration, synchronised defence planning, solidarity, mutual assistance as the norm in the EU, common development and procurement programmes (particularly in technologically demanding areas), as well as fully operational common security and defence units complementing NATO in terms of Europe’s security and defence.

The aforementioned three scenarios should be seen as the steps of a single programme designed to establish the European Security and Defence Union by all EU member states. Therefore, they should be regarded as a part of one desirable scenario. However, it is worth taking into account another scenario in which the EU member states will not reach an agreement as far as defence cooperation is concerned and thus the European Union will split into a well-integrated core and a peripheral group. This raises the question of how such a European Union could function in the field of security and defence. Given the abovementioned scenario, there are two options worth considering.

Multi-speed Europe in the field of security and defence would be an inconceivable, political and strategic hybrid. Even if the EU was based on autonomous circles of countries with different or even contradictory procedures, the Community would still be able to establish some basic coordination mechanisms to ensure a minimum degree of cooperation as far as security and defence are concerned. Such a framework would resemble a model of the atom in which electrons orbiting the firm core are pulled in by EU’s attractiveness and pushed away by a willingness to remain independent. In this scenario the EU system of security and defence would remain unsustainable. However, it seems certain that the European Union based on the aforementioned framework could not last long and would finally disintegrate into separate groups causing the collapse of the European security system. Unfortunately, it is worth noting that some Central and Eastern European countries contribute to the failure of European security cooperation. The European Union has come a long way as a strategic security organisation. The unique institutional design of the EU have been providing effective remedies for numerous difficult situations. Therefore, it seems logical to assume that the EU will be able to overcome current issues such as Brexit, migration crisis, terrorism, Transatlantic tensions, as well as other external threats and challenges, e.g. in the Southern flank or the new cold war between the Russian Federation and the West.[xix] To sum up, the European security system is unlikely to collapse anytime soon.

Conclusions

  1. The 2016 EU Global Strategy (EUGS) provided a major stimulus to actions of the European Council, the Commission and the European Parliament in the field of security policy. The EU Global Strategy has been implemented in the political, economic and international dimensions. The establishment of the Permanent Structural Cooperation (PESCO) in late 2017 has been the most important step in the implementation of the Strategy so far.
  2. ‘The Implementation Plan on Security and Defence’ is the most important introductory document related to the EU security and defence strategy. The EU ambition is to develop capabilities within the framework of the three strategic priorities: 1) responding to external conflicts and crises when they arise; 2) building the capacities of partners; 3) protecting the European Union and its citizens through external action.
  3. The ‘European Defence Action Plan’ is the second key document as far as the implementation of the EU Global Strategy is concerned. The plan is focused on providing EU member states with essential military capabilities and supporting European defence industry. The European Defence Fund is one the pillars of the European Defence Action Plan.
  4. The implementation of the joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation signed on June 8th 2016 at the NATO Warsaw Summit is one of the fundamentals of the European defence strategy. Systematic cooperation between the EU and NATO has become the main determinant of Euro-Atlantic security in the face of the new hybrid cold war and increasingly complex security threats. The establishment of the EU–NATO tandem seems an appropriate response to contemporary and future issues.
  5. In early June 2017, the European Commission published ‘The Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence’. The report contains three scenarios relating to the establishment of the European Security and Defence Union over the next decade. The aforementioned three scenarios should be seen as the steps of a single programme designed to establish the European Security and Defence Union by all EU member states. Therefore, they should be regarded as a part of one desirable scenario. However, it is worth taking into account another scenario in which the EU member states will not reach an agreement as far as defence cooperation is concerned and thus the European Union will split into a well-integrated core and a peripheral group in the field of security.

 

Author: Prof. Stanisław Koziej, Senior Fellow of the Intranational Security and Defence Programme  at the Casimir Pulaski Foundation

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[i] Defence cooperation: Council establishes Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), with 25 member states

Participating, Council of the EU, PRESS RELEASE 765/17, 11 December  2017, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/12/11/defence-cooperation-pesco-25-member-states-participating/

[ii] Konkluzje Rady w sprawie postępów w realizacji globalnej strategii UE w dziedzinie bezpieczeństwa i obrony – Konkluzje Rady, 6 marca 2017 r.,  http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6875-2017-INIT/pl/pdf

[iii] Concept Note: Operational Planning and Conduct Capabilities for CSDP Missions and Operations, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2017/03/st06881_en17_pdf/

[iv] Fiott, The CARD on the EU defence table, European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), April 2017,  http://www.iss.europa.eu/uploads/media/Alert_10_CARD.pdf

[v] Implementation Plan on Security and Defence, Council of the European Union, Brussels, 14 November 2016, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/11/pdf/Implementation-plan-on-security-and-defence_pdf/  oraz European Defence Action Plan, EUROPEAN COMMISSION, Brussels, 30 November 2016 [online], http://ec.europa.eu/DocsRoom/documents/20372/attachments/2/translations/en/renditions/pdf

[vi] O istocie i charakterze hybrydowej zimnej wojny: S. Koziej, Hybrydowa zimna wojna w Europie, „Pułaski Policy Papers”, Fundacja im. K. Pułaskiego, 5 września 2016 r., https://pulaski.pl/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Pulaski_Policy_Papers_Nr_20_16.pdf

[vii] S. Koziej, Terrorism in Europe and the clash of civilizations, Portal gisreportsonline.com, 24 sierpnia 2016 https://www.gisreportsonline.com/terrorism-in-europe-and-the-clash-of-civilizations,defense,1963.html

[viii] European Council meeting (22 and 23 June 2017) – Conclusions, Brussels, 23 June 2017, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2017/06/22-23-euco-conclusions_pdf/

[ix] A .Gilli, M. Gilli, European defence cooperation in the second machine age, EUISS, 26 April 2017, http://www.iss.europa.eu/uploads/media/Brief_14_Defence_cooperation.pdf

[x] European Council meeting (22 and 23 June 2017) – Conclusions, Brussels, 23 June 2017, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2017/06/22-23-euco-conclusions_pdf/

[xi] Joint declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_133163.htm?selectedLocale=en

[xii] Statement on the implementation of the Joint Declaration signed by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_138829.htm?selectedLocale=en

[xiii] Progress report on the implementation of the common set of proposals endorsed by NATO and EU Councils on 6 December 2016, 14 June 2017,  http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/06/pdf/170614-Joint-progress-report-EU-NATO-EN_pdf/

[xiv] Common set of new proposals on the implementation of the Joint Declaration signed by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, Press Release (2017) 174, 5 December 2017, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_149522.htm?selectedLocale=en

[xv] A. Ignaciuk, NATO i UE wobec zagrożeń hybrydowych – nowe otwarcie we wzajemnej współpracy?, „Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe” 2016, I–IV [online], https://www.bbn.gov.pl/ftp/dok/03/37-40_KBN_Ignaciuk.pdf ; M.Wróblewska-Łysik, Europejska Strategia Globalna a możliwości współpracy Unii Europejskiej z NATO po szczycie w Warszawie, „Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe” 2016, I–IV], https://www.bbn.gov.pl/ftp/dok/03/37-40_KBN_Wroblewska.pdf

[xvi] S. Koziej, Euroatlantycki „tandem bezpieczeństwa”?, [w:] Bezpieczeństwo międzynarodowe. Wyzwania i zagrożenia XXI wieku, red. P. Olszewski, T. Kapuśniak, W. Lizak, WSH, Radom 2009

[xvii] S. Koziej, Główne wyzwania strategiczne wobec NATO, [w:] NATO w pozimnowojennym środowisku (nie)bezpieczeństwa, red. M. Pietraś, J. Olchowski, UMCS, Lublin 2011

[xviii] Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence, European Commission COM(2017) 315 of 7 June 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/reflection-paper-defence_en_1.pdf

[xix] S. Koziej, Strategiczne wnioski z manewrów Zapad 2017: budowa przez Rosję „bezpiecznika” w neozimnowojennej grze z Zachodem, „Pułaski Policy Papers”, Fundacja im. K. Pułaskiego, Warszawa 21 września 2017 r., https://pulaski.pl/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Pulaski_Policy_Papers_Nr_19_17.pdf