23rd Jun 2017

Energy and climate change shape EU security strategy

Climate change and energy security, as well as cyber-crime and piracy are new threats identified in the renewed European security strategy to be adopted at the EU summit on 11-12 December, according to a draft seen by EUobserver.

The bloc's security strategy update, Providing security in a changing world, an 18 page-long document, sets out the old and new threats the EU is facing and the plans to reinforce capabilities and administrative structures in response.

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Part of the priorities set out by the French EU presidency to enhance the European security and defence policy (ESDP), the strategy has a certain sense of urgency compared to the 2003 version, A secure Europe in a better world.

"Five years ago, the European security strategy (ESS) set out a vision of how the EU would be a force for the fairer, safer and more united world. We have come a long way towards that. But the world around us is changing fast, with evolving threats and shifting powers. To build a secure Europe in a better world, we must do more to shape events. And we must do it now," the document says.

Along with the old threats – proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, organised crime and regional conflicts - the security update also includes new threats, such as climate change, energy security, cyber-crime and piracy.

"Natural disasters, environmental degradation and competition for resources exacerbate conflict, especially in situations of poverty and population growth, with humanitarian, health, political and security consequences, including greater migration. Climate change can also lead to disputes over trade routes, maritime zones and resources previously inaccessible," the draft reads, in reference to the race for energy resources in the Arctic.

Climate change is seen as a "key priority" for the EU, which is "leading negotiations and must use all its levers to achieve an ambitious outcome at Copenhagen in 2009."

Against this backdrop, efforts to reduce energy dependency are seen as "essential" - from greater diversification of fuels, sources of supply and transit routes to EU policies to support good governance, respect for the rule of law and investment in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Africa.

"Our policy should address transit routes, including through Turkey and Ukraine. With our partners, including China, India, Japan and the US, we should promote renewable energy, low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency, alongside transparent and well-regulated global markets," the draft reads.

No new security pact with Russia

The idea floated by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to have a broad discussion of "redesigning" Europe's security architecture by also drawing in Russia has found little support among other EU states, except Germany, and does not feature in the draft.

Varied references to Russia throughout the document reflect the division of EU member states in relation to their big neighbour. On one hand, "Russia remains an important partner on global issues" as well as Europe's major energy supplier. On the other hand, EU-Russian relations "have deteriorated over the conflict with Georgia," it says.

"The EU expects Russia to honour its commitments in a way that will restore the necessary confidence. Our partnership should be based on respect for common values, notably human rights, democracy and rule of law, market economy principles as well as on common interests and objectives," the document reads.

The strategy also makes veiled references to the responsibilities of the Georgian government.

"Sovereign governments must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions and hold a shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity," it says.

The fast deployment of EU monitors in Georgia is seen as an EU success and proof of a "collective" effort "with the necessary political will," alluding to the work of the French EU presidency to broker a cease fire and deploy in less than a month the unarmed observers.

The document fails to mention that monitors have not been not allowed into South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow has recognised as independent states.

Administrative reshuffle

The strategy update stresses the need for "appropriate and effective command structures and headquarters capabilities," by combining EU civilian and military expertise "from the conception of a mission, through the planning phase and into implementation."

One draft proposal in this regard, elaborated in a separate annex, foresees the setting up of a "crisis management and planning directorate" (CPMD) by merging two existing directorates – DGE 8, which deals military planning and DGE 9, which handles civilian crisis management.

"A new head will be appointed for the CPMD with the rank of deputy director-general. DGE 8 and DGE 9 will no longer exist," the draft proposal reads. The new director would report directly to EU's top foreign policy chief, currently Javier Solana.

The new proposal still needs to be endorsed by EU premiers and presidents from 11-12 December, during the last EU summit chaired by the French presidency.

Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme

Member states could fail to meet their refugee quotas even if they wanted to, as strict eligibility rules mean there are few candidates left in Greece and Italy. Sweden is already wondering if it will meet its pledge.

Border management going virtual

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels are set to endorse new border control measures, while the head of a Tallinn-based EU agency predicts a future where border management goes virtual.

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