Saturday

17th Aug 2019

Interview

Sweden: Who needs Nato, when you have the Lisbon Treaty?

  • Enstrom (l): deployment of a battlegroup would be 'a real leap forward' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Swedish defence minister Karin Enstrom has said her country is not in Nato partly because the EU treaty contains its own security guarantee.

Speaking to EUobserver at the Globsec conference in Bratislava on Saturday (20 April), she said: "If you really read it, the Lisbon Treaty says you must support your EU neighbours with all the necessary means."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Referring to Lisbon's article 42.7, she noted: "Since the EU is not a military alliance, it's not like article five [Nato's collective security clause], but there is this line which says all EU member states must support any other member state if it's attacked or if it's affected by a natural disaster."

She added: "It's really difficult to think that if one [EU] country ... was affected by a catastrophe or an attack, it would not affect all the other EU countries. It would be an act of self-interest to try to stabilise the situation."

Sweden, Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland and Malta are the only EU states which are not also Nato members.

Historically, Sweden stayed out of Nato in solidarity with its neighbour Finland, which stayed out in order not to antagonise Russia.

Sweden also has a tradition of neutrality going back to World War II.

It is hard to imagine a scenario in which an EU country might face an attack by conventional forces in current circumstances.

But Russia at Easter supplied one anyway.

According to a report on Monday in Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, on 29 March two Russian bombers and four fighter jets took off from St Petersburg and carried out a mock strike on targets in the Stockholm region.

Russia routinely tested Western air defences during the Cold War.

The exercises petered out over the past two decades. But defence analysts expect more of them in future under a Russian programme to rejuvenate its military.

Enstrom told this website that Sweden supports further EU military integration.

Talk of creating a European defence force in parallel to Nato, an idea once favoured by France, Germany and Poland, has faded away.

But Enstrom said EU leaders at a summit in December should give "a real commitment" to boosting their military capabilities and should launch joint procurement of military hardware.

She noted the EU already has "battlegroups" - rapid reaction forces set up by clusters of two or three individual states and designed to intervene in overseas crises.

They have never been used.

But Enstrom said if or when one of them goes into action, it would be "a real leap forward … it would give new energy to European defence co-operation."

She noted EU countries have other joint operations which are active in the field, such as the Horn of Africa anti-piracy missions - Atalanta, Eucap Nestor and EUTM Somalia.

She indicated it would help if the EU created a single military operations centre to co-ordinate its activities.

"We don't want to have duplication [with Nato], but I think you are always more prepared if you have a capability of command and control. On the exact format, I don't want to say: 'This is the way it should be and this is where it should be.' But I think it could be good to get forward in this discussion as well," she said.

For his part, Nick Witney, an expert at the ECFR think tank in London, told EUobserver no one should put too much hope in Lisbon's article 42.7 just yet.

"It's a rather small seed planted in the treaty … and it is yet to germinate. I don't think anyone really believes the EU right now can provide the kind of security guarantee Nato can provide," he said.

Witney, who used to run the EU's military research branch, the European Defence Agency in Brussels, mentioned three reasons for lack of EU-level progress.

"Firstly, lack of money. Secondly, the fact everybody feels safe … and thirdly because most people in Europe don't take defence terribly seriously. The Poles do a bit, and the Brits and the French. But mostly, people are interested in what their defence budget can do for their industrial base or for regional unemployment," he said.

Another reason is Nato itself.

During the Russian simulation in March, Sweden's air force did not react because it was on low alert during the Easter break.

But Nato scrambled two Danish jets from a base in Lithuania.

"Nato is always there and it has the Americans on board, which is quite handy," Witney added.

He noted that even if Nato's article five does not cover non-Nato-members and even if Lisbon's 42.7 is fanciful, there is an overriding "solidarity of fact," however.

He said: "Nato countries and EU countries are so dependent on one another, their interests run into each other so much … no one is going to attack Stockholm and think that British forces or other Nato forces will stand aside and watch."

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Opinion

Lagarde's ECB must modernise

Christine Lagarde will succeed European Central Bank president Mario Draghi at a time of deepening polarisation among eurozone member states. It will take all of her skills as a leader and communicator to safeguard the institution's independence.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us