EU Commission presents its reflection paper on the future of the European Defence

New Europe / Alexandros Michailidis

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, the European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Tapani Katainen and European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowskagive give a press briefing at the end of the read-out of College meeting about the European Defence Action Plan in Brussels on Nov. 30 2016.

EU Commission presents its reflection paper on the future of the European Defence


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Three scenarios for EU defence future and a €5.5 European Defense Fund have been presented today by the European Commission.

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini presented the Berlaymont’s fourth “reflection paper”, presenting possible scenarios for the EU-27 common future. Insisting that  it would not overlap the NATO military alliance, Mogherini presented the bloc’s EU military plan. “It’s not about substituting neither the alliance nor the United States, but it’s a matter of focusing on what we can do more for our own purposes, our own interests,” she said.

According to the Commission, the reflection paper “outlines the main trends and challenges that will shape the future of our security and defence and on this basis, sets out options in three different scenarios for moving towards a Security and Defence Union.” The way these three scenarios are presented, suggests that they are not mutually exclusive.

The first scenario presented, is called “Security and Defence Cooperation” and foresees that the EU-27 member states will continue to decide on the need for cooperation on security and defence issues on a voluntary basis and on a case-by-case basis, while the EU will “complement” national efforts.

If this scenario prevails, even if defence cooperation will be strengthened at some point, EU participation in the most demanding businesses will remain limited. As for the newly funded European Defense Fund (EDF), it would help develop some new common capabilities, but as member states would continue to oversee the bulk of defence development and defence procurement individually, limited extra capability for the member states would be possible. In terms of EU-NATO cooperation, the first scenario foresees that the current form and structure will be maintained.

According to the second scenario presented by the European Commission, “Common Security and Defense” aims to provide a pool of certain financial and operational assets to increase defence solidarity between the EU-27 member states. EU-wide security, protecting Europe inside and outside its borders will be a task for the common security and defence actor. Cyberspace, border protection and fight against terrorism will be new fields of action, while enhancing the  defense and security dimension of EU internal policies such as energy, health, customs or Space.

The above would be accompanied by a political will to act, as well as the ability to make decisions in a rapidly changing context. The EU and NATO will also increase mutual co-operation and coordinate on a full range of issues.

The third and more ambitious scenario of “Single Defense and Security” foresees the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy, which will eventually lead to a single defence under Article 42 of the EU Treaty. According to the existing provision, a group of member states could agree and take European defence cooperation at the next level. Under this scenario, protecting Europe will be the mutual responsibility of the EU and NATO.

The EU will be able to conduct high-level security and defence operations, supported by a greater level of integration of the defence forces of the EU-27 membersStates. The EU will support joint defence programs with the EDF and will set up a dedicated European Defense Research Agency. This will also strengthen the creation of a genuine European defence market capable of protecting its core strategies from external acquisitions.

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