Saturday

27th May 2017

France and Germany seek to revive EU defence policy

The EU needs to do more for international security France and Germany have said as they call for improved battlegroups and the use of drones in civilian airspace.

In a joint letter and ideas paper, dated Friday (26 July), the foreign ministers of both countries say that amid "asymmetrical threats" the EU needs to "assume increased responsibility for international peace and security."

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.

  • The Neuron drone, made by European countries, completed its first test flight from a base in France at the end of 2012 (Photo: dassault-aviation.com)

They add that they are committed to making a planned EU defence summit in December a "success" with "tangible results."

Among the results they are hoping for is agreement on improved "operational effectiveness" of EU battle groups, clusters of 1,500 soldiers meant to be deployed rapidly.

Launched in 2007, they have never been used. And ambitions have been scaled back amid dwindling defence budgets.

Berlin and Paris say this could be countered by "advanced planning on the most likely scenarios" where battle groups could be used.

The paper also suggests "seizing the opportunities" arising from the creation of a single European air traffic space. These include opportunities for military aircraft and the use of drones.

It calls on the European defence agency to examine the "operational and financial impact of SESAR (Europe's single air traffic control infrastructure) on military aviation."

Member states and EU institutions are urged to "progress towards the air traffic insertion of remotely piloted aircraft systems."

The paper also calls for an upgrade in cyber security systems, an EU-level "clearing house" to help regional allies to prevent or manage military crises; better border management and a maritime strategy that outlines how the EU should safeguard its "strategic interests."

The Franco-German initiative comes after France earlier this year found itself alone in putting soldiers on the ground in Mali to fight jihadists, with other EU countries reluctant to help out.

Meanwhile, although France and the UK, the EU's most significant military powers, made the most noise about a military intervention in Libya in 2011, they were unable to take action without the US' help.

More broadly, Washington has said it will intensify its role in the Asia-Pacific region, leaving the EU to do more in its own neighbourhood.

Paris and Berlin say their paper should form the basis of discussions at an informal foreign ministers' meeting in September. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is also due to produce an interim paper on defence before the September meeting, to be followed later in autumn by a fuller report.

The EU commission has also chipped with ideas on making defence spending more efficient and the importance of implementing defence-related legislation.

The papers will feed into the 19 December gathering of EU leaders, exactly a year after leaders laid out the main weaknesses of EU defence policy.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

Investigation

Fight Club: Russische Spione suchen EU-Rekruten

Sicherheitsexperten warnen, dass russische Geheimdienste Kampfsportvereine nutzen, um potenzielle Unruhestifter in Deutschland und anderen EU-Ländern zu rekrutieren.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms