Friday

19th Oct 2018

Opinion

The EU needs to make itself battle-ready

A week before Christmas, EU heads of state and government are set to discuss security and defence at their regular European Council meeting in Brussels. It may not be a typical pre-holiday topic, but its urgency makes us focus on it even in the time of family gatherings and last-minute Christmas shopping.

After all, this should be a time of peace, which is exactly the objective of the upcoming discussion.

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 European Union is by all accounts the strongest global player in the soft power arena. The level of our development aid and the economic ties with the least developed countries set a good example for the rest of the world. Soft power itself, though, cannot solve all the challenges we now face.

If we are to engage in crises and conflicts in our neighbourhood and support the resilience of third countries we must increase our efforts in hard power policies as well. Now is the time to do so and we should not miss the opportunity to move forward.

With this in mind, the Czech Republic believes the EU should – within the framework of the current Treaties – make full use of all relevant provisions and instruments available, maximise the synergies of civilian and military assets and enhance its cooperation with Nato as much as possible.

Today’s challenges require us to reinforce our own European strategic autonomy.

This highlights an increasing need for the ability to rapidly plan operations and deploy forces, including the so-called EU Battlegroups (EUBGs). Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of their full operational capability. However, since the EUBGs have never been deployed there will be little to celebrate.

Having been part of the Visegrad 4 EUBG on standby from January till June 2016 and benefiting from the experience of other Member States, we have decided to share our thoughts on the matter. Our recent national non-paper on the EUBGs sets out four main tangible issues to be tackled.

First, there is the structure of the EUBG itself. The current system contributes to certain unpredictability and we should strive towards more standardised EUBGs. Second, there needs to be a common element in the certification process. Third, the preparation and certification would benefit from greater use of live exercises. And fourth, we must expand the scope for common financing. Financial constraints are limiting the very willingness to contribute to the EUBGs and, subsequently, to deploy them.

The proposed issues may sound technical but they represent concrete steps that would help us revive this already existing instrument and boost our ability to react to sudden crises and conflicts in our neighbourhood.

We must make sure that these military units are ready to go into action if necessary not only on paper but also in reality. This is important for many reasons – not least because the EUBGs must prove they can serve their purpose when the taxpayers ask where their money goes.

Tomas Prouza is state secretary for European affairs of the Czech Republic.

EU to propose joint defence fund

New fund for military procurement and research, to be worth tens of billions of euros a year, is part of wider plans for an EU defence union.

EU: The next 60 years

The 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome is an opportunity to celebrate past achievements and to think about the current challenges the EU is facing.

MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia

On Thursday and Friday, heads of state of 51 Asian and European countries will be in Brussels for a summit with the EU. As MEPs, we denounce the fact that many countries around the table are major human rights violators.

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  2. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  3. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  4. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  5. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  6. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  7. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  8. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us