Saturday

27th May 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Nato needs a European 2%

Europe needs to take care of its on security, but not on Trump's terms, with the 2 percent of GDP mantra flawed as a model.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

Development serving the purpose of migration control

While the EU is sacrificing development aid to serve short-term migration interests, it is important to realise that enhanced border controls will not solve the root causes of forced migration and displacement.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms