Wednesday

27th Jan 2021

Berlin, Paris and Warsaw keen to beef up EU military muscle

  • Mr Sikorski's Chobielin ranch: the Permanent Structured Co-operation plan is understood to have been hatched here in 2009 (Photo: PolandMFA)

France, Germany and Poland have urged EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton to personally take charge of plans to boost military co-operation between EU countries and between EU and Nato structures.

The foreign ministers of the three countries in a rare joint letter to Ms Ashton dated 6 December and seen by this website said: "The European Union has become a recognised and sought-after security actor. It will become more solicited, alone or in co-ordination with other actors such as the UN, Nato, the United States and emerging powers."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

"Your personal involvement in this endeavour is the key," the ministers add, calling for "bold decisions ... with you, Madam High Representative, in the lead."

The letter proposes triggering the so-called Permanent Structured Co-operation clause in the Lisbon Treaty under which militarily-advanced EU states can create an avant-garde group on joint defence procurement and operational planning for other EU countries to get involved in down the line.

The ministers ask Ms Ashton to look into the creation of a permanent EU civilian-military planning capability; explore ways of making EU battlegroups pack more punch in the field; explore possibilities for "common funding" of battlegroup needs, such as air-lift equipment; and stimulate research investment in the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base.

The three countries urge the British baroness to launch an "in-depth discussion" on the subject among EU ministers and to "achieve concrete results under the Polish EU presidency in the second half of 2011."

On the EU-Nato side, the letter says: "There is ample room for improvement in our relations, regarding both in-theatre operational co-operation and ... in the area of capabilities." It names cyberdefence as a new area for joint work and says the US should more often be invited to take part in EU military missions.

The defence plan is understood to have been hatched during a private conversation between Poland's foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, and his former French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, at Mr Sikorski's private ranch in Chobielin, Poland, in 2009.

The inclusion of Germany, the biggest net contributor to the EU budget, gives the scheme extra weight and consumates Poland's ambition to join the club of major EU policy-makers - France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Commenting on the scheme after an EU ministerial in Brussels on Monday (13 December), Mr Sikorksi told the Polish Press Agency: "We know about the limitations of the EU when it comes to defence: We have a series of members who are neutral countries, but on the other hand Lisbon has created for us the Permanent Structured Co-operation mechanism."

The ministers' agenda fits with Nato's new Strategic Concept, adopted in Lisbon last month, which spoke of a post-Cold-War global conflict prevention agenda for the alliance and highlighted cyber security as a new priority. The Nato summit equally bemoaned existing problems in EU-Nato co-operation.

The Franco-German-Polish initiative also mirrors joint defence projects currently being rolled out at sub-EU level.

France and the UK in November signed a defence pact covering joint nuclear weapons tests, while the UK, the five Nordic countries and the three Baltic States will in January hold a summit on defence and energy co-operation in the High North. The five Nordic countries will in April also debate a potential new defence pact, with proposals including a Nato-style "one-for-all-and-all-for-one" mutual defence obligation.

This story was altered at 8am Brussels time on 14 December, adding the Sikorski quote

Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact

Negotiations on the European Commission's asylum and migration pact among EU states continues. But a rift is widening on the eight-month deadline for capitals to sponsor returns of failed asylum seekers.

Coronavirus

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Opinion

Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep

Ultimately, the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, only unveiled in September, risks reinforcing bottlenecks and misery at the borders, should be thoroughly amended before final agreement.

Opinion

Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep

Ultimately, the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, only unveiled in September, risks reinforcing bottlenecks and misery at the borders, should be thoroughly amended before final agreement.

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us