24th Oct 2016

Military chief: EU becoming 'marginal' in Asia-centric world

  • Chinese soldiers - the changing world order is leaving EU countries behind (Photo: Patrick Rodwell)

EU countries must share military resources or become "marginal" powers on the world stage, a Swedish general has said.

Hakan Syren issued the warning after chairing a regular meeting of EU military commanders in Brussels on Wednesday (31 October).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We have shrinking budgets and we have changing responsibilities. It was shown in the Libya conflict ... I would say there's a new world out there," he told press.

"The centre of gravity is moving from our continent to the Far East and we must come up with a long-term response to make sure we are not marginalised," he added.

Syren's remarks echo US President Barack Obama last year when he said the end of the Cold War and the rise of China mark the beginning of a "Pacific century."

They also come after former US defence chief Robert Gates said EU countries could not have toppled Libya's Muammar Gaddafi - "a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country" - without American help.

For his part, Syren said "pooling and sharing" - an EU agreement on military resources - has to be "taken to the next level" in 2013 as a response.

He noted the pooling pact has spawned 15 projects over the past two and half years.

But he added: "There are several, over 12, manufacturers of armoured vehicles [in the EU]. Do we need that? We are buying four different types of combat aircraft right now. Do we need that? Do we have the money for that?"

He identified joint EU war schools, joint equipment maintenance and military manoeuvres as future areas for co-operation.

He also referred to joint EU operations in Somalia and Uganda as a "success."

But he noted that a new operation in Mali will have to be tailor-made rather than using Somalia as a model.

EU officials earlier this week told Reuters member states are planning to send 200-or-so military experts to Mali and another 200 soldiers to keep them safe.

The EU force will try to get Mali's army in shape to attack Tuareg tribes in the north of the country.

EU countries fear the Tuareg-controlled territory of Azawad is becoming a base for Islamist extremists on the model of Afghanistan.

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity