Thursday

30th Mar 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.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

News in Brief

  1. UK publishes 'Great Repeal Bill' plan to replace EU laws
  2. Scots share May's vision for Brexit deal, survey says
  3. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  4. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  5. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  6. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  7. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  8. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  2. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  3. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  5. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  6. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  7. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  9. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  10. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  11. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Latest News

  1. Hungary attempts to stifle Soros-founded university in Budapest
  2. European right shows divisions on EU values after Brexit
  3. Transparency is key EU tactic in Brexit talks
  4. Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe
  5. Französische und deutsche Wahlen 'entscheidend' für Putin
  6. EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy
  7. MEPs draw 'red lines' on Brexit deal
  8. MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus