Sunday

27th Nov 2022

First job for Rapid Deployment Force

Central Africa today offers a unique opportunity for Europeans to demonstrate a sense of responsibility they often collectively lack, by making their claim to care about Africa converge with the security tools they are building, through a concrete act: stabilising Central Africa.

A hot issue in 2003

Let us take defence and security for instance, certain to be a hot issue in 2003. For the EU, this year is meant to see the establishment of its ability to act as one on security and defence issues: taking over Bosnian police force and that of Macedonia. In addition, under France and Germany leadership, moving towards a European Armament Agency, and finally building Rapid Deployment Force with 60,000 soldiers.

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

Meanwhile, with the unavoidable referenda for the ratification of the future EU constitution, the credibility of the EU to preserve the European’s security and to promote regional and global stability, is becoming a major political challenge in demonstrating Europe's political maturity. Anticipation and political relevance call for it. But leadership is still missing. Will it come in 2003? Central Africa will be the test.

Destabilised Africa is mass of major threats for Europeans

If Central Africa is left allowed to languish in its current state, in a few years time, terrorists from Al Qaeda or other networks will prosper on this continent rather than in Asia. Crumbling states, lawless regions and tribal wars offer indeed a perfect environment for terrorists training camps.

Meanwhile exasperated populations will increase clandestine immigration to Europe and entire regions will become ideal fields for the outbreak of disease and epidemics. And all those NGOs and countries dedicated to Third World Aid will end up moving away, leaving dozens of millions of people in the hands of soldiers of fortune, ethnic cleansers, robbers, hunger and deadly viruses. Big success for Europe: Africa's closest neighbour, former colonial power and provider of public and private aid.

Africa's woes are Europeans' best shared burden

Whether it goes through EuropAid or bilateral aid, Africa ranks first, by far, among continents supported by Europe. Many European countries (France, UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal,) are former African colonial powers, living up with historic links with this continent.

Most European countries are welcoming African immigrants. All Europeans, at least since the Biafra War, have shared deep concern about Africa’s woes and disasters, giving money to relief organisations and other NGOs.

More European NGOs are active in Africa than anywhere else in the world. All that, added up with the fact that the two major players of European defence, UK and France, were the biggest former colonial powers in Africa and that their two languages are spoken all across the continent, makes a very good case for the political relevance of European intervention in Central Africa to prevent further destabilisation of the continent.

Military deployment first of all to stop further destabilisation

The coming Rapid European Deployment Force (REDF) is exactly the tool for such a purpose. Whether it was planned for this does not matter really as the challenge in Africa is not a military one. Indeed Central Africa does not host major military forces which can pose any serious threat to the REDF.

The force would aim at stabilising predominantly by preventing further destabilisation; at setting up conditions allowing democracy to gain a foot hold, health care and education to be implemented and economy to operate in peaceful conditions. Basically, issues for which Europe and the Europeans have been working on for 40 years and which are now collapsing from Rwanda to Liberia to the Ivory Coast.

France or UK? Leadership in the field of defence will come from acts, not words

Leadership does not come by itself or because objectively one is stronger than the other. Leadership grows from a combination of recognition of a specific expertise, trust from other players, and a willingness to put one's own interests behind that of the group. Without these components, no leader can emerge save in words.

To continue with unilateral state action as France in Ivory Coast today or UK in Sierra Leone did a few years ago will be to commit a historic mistake. Problems in Central Africa are exactly the size and nature fitting the EU's emerging security and defence policy: out of major US focus, usual spot for many European armies, a myriad of links to Europe, it is expected by many Africans, there are cross-borders and dictating a regional approach to be necessary.

Europe defence and security waits for its leader

This leadership will require putting both Europe's interests (a peaceful, stable, prosperous Africa) and Africa's interest (a long term partnership with Europe ensuring both socio-economic development and political stability) atop of the agenda.

On one hand, it will require the shaking up European countries which are always ready to ‘cry over Africa's disasters' but do not want to risk a soldier's life to help secure countries falling into chaos; on the other hand, it will imply sharing decision making and military planning with other European countries willing to pay their tribute to our continental neighbour's stability.

An obvious leader for European security and defence policy

We already missed our Yugoslavian responsibilities; let us not miss our African ones otherwise tomorrow we will pay a high price for it: growing clandestine immigration, new terrorist prone regions, diseases, …and loosing even more European citizens support for the EU. One thing is certain: the country paving the way in 2003 for a European stabilisation force in Central Africa (with UN consent of course), will become an obvious leader in European security and defence policy.

FRANCK BIANCHERI is Director for Strategy and Studies of Europe 2020, a trans-European think-tank based in Paris. He is currently starting a democratic premiere, the "Newropeans Democratic Marathon", by touring, until June 2003, 100 cities in 25 European countries, in order to debate the future of Europe directly with the citizens.

Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges

Sweden won't make any pledges to relocate asylum seekers under a French-inspired EU plan because there is no legal basis, says Sweden's ambassador to the EU. But Sweden's new right-wing government is also tightening migration rules.

Opinion

Enough talk, only rights can eliminate patriarchal violence

We're asking the EU to stop hiding behind pinkwashed slogans and finally walk the talk by providing all necessary legal tools to guarantee women their rights, say two Left MEPs, for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

EU Commission to keep Hungary's EU funds in limbo

The EU executive, on the other hand, is expected to approve Hungary's recovery plan, worth €5.8bn, but only would disburse actual money if Hungary delivers on some 27 key reforms.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges
  2. The 'proof' problem with EU sanctions — and how to fix it
  3. The EU gas cap: will the bottle ever be 'uncorked'?
  4. Enough talk, only rights can eliminate patriarchal violence
  5. Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'
  6. EU Commission to keep Hungary's EU funds in limbo
  7. 'No substance' price ceiling for gas leaves everyone disgruntled
  8. Paying consumers who save most energy could tame gas prices

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us