Saturday

19th Aug 2017

EU to mull new defence post at commission

  • EU gearing up for greater defence and security cooperation (Photo: Finnish army)

The EU should have a commissioner dedicated to defence and security to ease the burden on foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, according to an MEP who has written a report on setting up a European defence union.

"I am clearly convinced that in the European Commission there should be a special commissioner on defence and security," Urmas Paet, an Estonian liberal MEP, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (15 November).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Paet said Mogherini was overstretched with too many portfolios.

"She is doing everything, the whole world, all the foreign policy, all the conflicts, all the defence, security and so on," he said.

His report, if adopted next week, will shape the European Parliament's political direction in terms of defence and security for years to come.

Paet, who is also Estonia's former minister of foreign affairs, says the new commissioner post is not explicit in his report but is rather understood in terms of the broader security context.

The ambition behind the report, he says, is to give "some content" to a European defence and security cooperation.

The idea is to boost defence spending, shore up research, and break down administrative barriers when it comes to things like moving troops across EU states.

That means opening future EU budgets to defence spending to pay for troop movements, accommodation, and industry research, he said.

The mood on security and defence is now warming up to ideas broadly disregarded only a few years ago.

Earlier this week, EU foreign and defence ministers laid the groundwork to create a mini military HQ and joint rapid-reaction forces.

Germany's defence minister Ursula von der Leyen in the wake of Trump's US presidential election victory had also urged for greater EU defence integration. Mogherini made similar comments.

The recent spate of terrorist attacks in Europe, Russian aggression in Ukraine, turmoil in Libya, war in Syria, have all factored into what Paet says is a major shift towards strengthening European defence.

The biggest obstacle to the defence plans, he said, will be the money.

"European cooperation defence with Europe should go hand in hand with budget,it should go hand in hand with the next multi-annual financial framework, otherwise not much will happen," Paet said.

EU states will also have to dig deep to budget at least 2 percent of their respective GDPs to Nato.

EU money for defence research

The defence industry was granted direct access to the EU budget, for the first time, as part of three pilot projects launched earlier this month.

The EU commission and the European Defence Agency in late October had signed the grant agreements to finance the projects overseen by the defence industry.

EDA chief Jorge Domecq described the agreement as "a new chapter in the way defence research can be funded in Europe”.

One of projects includes creating "unmanned heterogeneous swarm of sensor platforms", which could help develop future systems for border control.

Another project aims to improve a soldier's awareness and navigation in a building by using miniaturised sensors.

Current funding under the EU's Horizon 2020 programme is restricted to civilian or so-called dual-use research.

But the long term goal is set aside billions of euros from the EU budget for defence research.

Those plans had been initiated by the European Parliament in 2014, which along with the member states, then agreed to earmark expenditure for defence research in the annual EU budget for the pilot projects.

According to the Domecq, defence research across EU states shrunk by 32 percent, or around €1 billion, between 2006 and 2014.

And next year, the EU commission also plans to launch its preparatory action on defence research.

"It will be the real acid test for proving the relevance of defence research," said Domecq.

EU crafts defence plan in Trump's shadow

The EU aims to create a mini military HQ and to have joint rapid-reaction forces, but the UK says member states should react to Donald Trump’s victory by spending more on defence.

Analysis

Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue

Fico convinced the EU commission chief to take action in the perceived problem of discriminatory food practices, even though the evidence for the phenomenon is anecdotal.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

EU Commission to act on Poland

The EU executive is likely to issue a new set of rule of law recommendations to Poland and start legal probes once the controversial pieces of legislation have been published.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides