Monday

3rd Aug 2020

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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

Opinion

The three 'Elephants in Room' in EU-India relations

A revamping of Indian and EU strategic priorities - coupled with wariness of Chinese expansionism in the absence of American leadership - is pushing them both to seek like-minded partners elsewhere.

News in Brief

  1. France imposes new Covid-19 tests on visitors
  2. Brussels closes all mosques for Eid festival
  3. Amsterdam and Rotterdam tighten face mask measures
  4. UK tightens lockdown measures in north England
  5. EU banking watchdog warning on 26 banks
  6. 60,000 rally in Minsk ahead of Belarus election
  7. 'Better Regulation' is key for EU policy-making, auditors say
  8. Polish tribunal to examine EU gender-violence treaty

Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding

Six Polish cities that declared themselves as "LGBTI-free zones" have been denied funding under the EU's Town Twinning programme for failing to meet the standards of "equal access and non-discrimination".

Opinion

Why is building renovation 'Cinderella' of EU Green Deal?

The renovation of old buildings will be crucial to the success of the European Green Deal and a clean, robust economic recovery. Unless there is serious commitment from policymakers, we risk the Green Deal turning into a pumpkin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. EU mishandling corona-travel, Belgian expert says
  2. France wants rule of law sanctions on recovery budget
  3. The three 'Elephants in Room' in EU-India relations
  4. First use of new EU sanctions against Russia, China hackers
  5. Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding
  6. EU's new Security Union Strategy is a good first step
  7. US 'cavalry' leaving Germany to go back home
  8. Why is building renovation 'Cinderella' of EU Green Deal?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us