Thursday

23rd Jan 2020

Robots and media scrutiny to shape EU military future

EU defence ministries are going to have to contend with a shrinking recruitment pool for soldiers, a public that is more cautious about interventionist operations and 24/7 media scrutiny, according to a long-term military planning report approved by defence ministers on Tuesday (3 October).

The 28-page study looks to a future where Europe will be externally dependent for 90 percent of its oil and 80 percent of gas by 2025 and where "strong migratory pressures" due to the fast-growing populations in Africa and the Middle East offset by stable and ageing European population are set to cause "direct or indirect challenges" to Europe's security interests.

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 join as a group

However, Europe's possible need to act in any of these regions or situations will be tempered by a more clued-up, risk-averse society.

"Military action, not explicitly authorised by the UN, may become increasingly controversial," states the report, adding "military operations will be subject to ever-increasing scrutiny by elected officials, media and populations."

It also notes that the spread of readily accessible information and ideas about basic rights as well as the "environmental impact of military action" are also likely to affect people's perceptions of military conflict.

"Caution may be reinforced by increased concern with the legality of military action, as globalisation disseminates the concept of international law," says the study.

No more soldiers?

As well as the social perceptions, defence ministries will also have to deal with the fact that less and less people are likely to become soldiers, with the armed forces recruitment pool (16-30 years) to fall by over 15 percent by 2025.

"As armed forces professionalise and the falling birth-rate increases competition in the labour market for young men and women, personnel costs will, in practice, pre-empt more and more of defence spending unless manpower is reduced," says the report.

With some 2 million people currently in uniform in Europe, "there is plenty of scope to do this," it highlighted.

One way of overcoming this problem would be to "outsource" and to resort to "increased automation, from warships to robots," the report suggested.

Looking at the changing nature of warfare, the report notes that "we are transitioning from the industrial age to the information age of war."

It suggests that future conflicts will be "high-tech against low-tech, Goliath against David, centrally-controlled and network enabled operations against disruptive tactics of local or regional [and] transnational guerrilla groups."

In the future, the objective of intervention by force will not necessarily be "victory" in the traditional sense but "moderation, balance of interests and peaceful resolution of conflicts" although the force needed to require this outcome may be "substantial."

The report concludes by suggesting that member states cut manpower numbers, exploit new technology more quickly and improve intelligence - leading to a point where EU military planners react more rapidly to situations using many actors including other international organisations, are selective in the type of force they use and can provide sustainable solutions to conflicts.

EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail

European counter-intelligence services need to "seriously raise the level of vigilance" on Russian spies, UK activist Bill Browder has said after news of a botched operation at Davos.

Column

What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?

The Libya case might finally give the EU some strategic clarity. This sounds like a small thing, but EU foreign policy is in such bad shape that it would be a big leap forward.

Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?

Some say GDPR is the most developed data protection law in the world, but the US has opted for a very different approach - a "voluntary tool" based on privacy risk management.

Exclusive

Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe

A Polish official seeking to become president of the European Economic and Social Committee, a minor EU institution, could face Belgian charges for psychological harassment after the EU's anti-fraud office Olaf alerted authorities.

Opinion

Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?

The European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance demands Germany give up its resistance to the Anti-Discrimination Directive and suggest the commission and centre-right parties exert further pressure on Polish and Hungarian authorities to improve conditions for the LGBT+ community and people.

News in Brief

  1. UK watchdog unveils online child-privacy standards
  2. Alleged 'bully' nominated for EESC presidency
  3. Greens/EFA fail to agree on accepting Catalan MEPs
  4. MEPs approve over 55 gas projects for EU funding
  5. Italy deputy PM Di Maio quits as Five Star party leader
  6. EU investment bank to keep pressure on Turkey over gas
  7. 'Rare' migrant boat from Belgium to UK sinks
  8. First annual rule of law report expected this year, Reynders said

Column

What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?

The Libya case might finally give the EU some strategic clarity. This sounds like a small thing, but EU foreign policy is in such bad shape that it would be a big leap forward.

Opinion

Brexit - Europe's 'Versailles moment'?

The spectre of another peace agreement looms: that of the doomed Versailles treaty, which, by sowing resentment and perpetuating misunderstanding of each other's true ambitions and principles, created more tensions than it dissolved.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail
  2. What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?
  3. EU commission 'lacks ambition' on future conference
  4. Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?
  5. Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe
  6. Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?
  7. US retiree, scammed by former EU official, awaits justice
  8. Vienna-Brussels night train returns amid EU green talk

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us