Sunday

17th Feb 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Opinion

Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?

There can be no more excuses for business. They will be held for responsible for their failure to take action to prevent the risk of human and labour rights through their supply chains.

Agenda

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Agenda

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us