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Summary of an analysis prepared by EuroDefense France (edited by Lt Gen Jean Paul Perruche, President EURODEFENSE-FRANCE)
Recent changes in the context of world security are having a dangerous effect on the defence arrangements of European countries. An increased number of conflicts and threats at Europe's borders at a time when European defence budgets have been dangerously decreasing over more than 20 years now, together with the unavoidable disengagement of the USA, are the main causes.
This uncertain situation should incite the nations of the European Union to mutualise their forces and capabilities, but it is painfully obvious that any political will to do so is sorely lacking at present. Given this situation, a EuroDefence France working group (which reports to a pan-EU conference in Luxembourg this week) stresses the interest of producing a European White Paper on security and defence, emphasising the conditions for its feasibility, identifying the obstacles to be overcome, but also the opportunities to be seized, as well as an outline of such a White Paper's content and the possibilities for its exploitation.
Producing a European White Paper on security and defence would
emphasise the insufficiencies and dangers of Europe's current system of
defence. Protected by America in NATO, the capability for individual
military action by the vast majority of European states is now negligible.
As for the possibility for common action by the EU, this is ridiculously
feeble in comparison with Europe's economic and political potential - a
consequence of these countries' decline, especially in terms of
insufficient spending on defence and lack of any real coordination where
defence expenditure is concerned.
Nevertheless European nations must face up to the threats and risks
which are mostly mutual, even if individual national priorities may differ.
American withdrawal from Europe does however confront the European
nations with the need for them to re-assume the responsibility for their
own defence. This is impossible without a common analysis of joint
needs and the possibility for pooling assets and without a proper
appreciation of capabilities and the capacity for mutual support, in an
effort to achieve a necessary "critical mass" - a central criterion for
power in today's globalised world.
A certain number of hurdles must still be surmounted before the goal is
reached, nevertheless. Principally, the absence of a real common
foreign policy. This could be alleviated, partly, via more convergence
between the States, dossier by dossier, in the context of a new strategic
analysis at the European level, (as already envisaged by the new High
Representative). The following step would be to conquer the reluctance
and fears of national representatives to modify their priorities so as not
to emphasise their differences, to feel bound by positions agreed at the
European level and to be obliged to justify options which may be seen
by their compatriots as useless conditions and as an abandon of
The complexity of political and military cultures in European States and
their different conceptions of "power" should not be underestimated, but
may well be reduced to an analysis which considers the EU as a whole
of which each state is a part. Such an analysis would certainly rewaken
the debate on the finality sought through European construction and its
limits, but would also have the interest of clarifying our compatriots'
vision, especially with respect to false, nationalistic alternatives. As far
as the argument that reinforcing European capabilities would result in a
weakening of NATO is concerned, this appears wholly specious at a
moment when our U.S. Partner is insisting on a rebalancing of the
burden of European security.
In contrast, the new scene concerning threats and risks all around the
EU, and especially in its near neighbourhood, offers opportunities to be
grasped in favour of a more European approach to defence.
Taking these risks into account globally in their diversity and as a
function of just how dangerous they may be at the European scale,
would allow priorities to be established and share efforts between the
member states, to emphasise complementary capabilities and thus
increase the cost/efficiency ratio of European defence..
The current problem of uncontrolled migration movement in the
Mediterranean basin well illustrates the real need to find solutions at the
Such an approach would also favour the definition of a better system of
role sharing between Europeans and the Americans not only for the
defence of Europe, but also for the defence of our values and the
protection of our common interests at a global level.
It would also allow for the identification of the strategic capacities which
the European States would not be in a position to acquire individually in
the future, but which are indispensable for their independence and
freedom of action: capabilities for space, strategic transport, major arms
systems for the future...
As for its content, a European White Paper should express the political
will of EU States, supported by their public opinions, to consider and to
organise their defence at the European level, without necessarily having
to develop a totally integrated European defence, (for example, an
The White Paper should concentrate on:
- developing the notion of critical mass for Europe's States' power of
- the expression of power and the use of armed force by the EU
- the expression of solidarity in the domaine of security and defence
within the EU, with the aim not only of protecting the common
interests of the member states, but also of making a common defence
of all their interests, (common and national).
- putting into practice the principle of subsidiarity between EU and its
member states in terms of defence, the aim of an European approach
being to produce common solutions where the nations are lacking
individual solutions rather than Europe directing its members.
- the problem of establishing a concerted approach to nuclear
deterrence and to ballistic missile defence within the realm of the EU's
- conditions for the strategic autonomy of the EU, to allow it to achieve
its aims and the necessary means.
With needs, ambitions and capabilities re-valued at the European level,
the White Paper should show how the EU could prepare to cope with a
partial dis-engagement by the United States and to redefine a
transatlantic partnership adapted to 21st century realities.
Capabilities should be expressed in terms of needs: anticipation,
prevention, protection,intervention, deterrence, in the light of the desired
level of strategic autonomy.
The Paper should be short and instructive, accompanied by strategies
for detailed implementation in the realms of internal and external
security, depending on different regions of the world, with priorities.
Such a White Paper should be usefully coherent and an instrument for
doing better in the future at the European level, a reference work for
individual nations' own White Papers. It must not be too technical, more
an educational tool, appealing to a wide audience and available to the
An element to help build the EU's global approach to its defence, the
White Paper would allow for the defining of regional strategies, (eg in the
Sahel and the Horn of Africa), and themes, (eg maritime security
strategy, cyber defence, energy, the link between CSDP and the
neighbourhood policy...), organisation, (command and control), setting
up necessary budgets, (eg for the ECSP and Athena), doctrine,
capability development, (CDP), linked with the safeguarding of a
technical and industrial base and envisaged operational engagements.
This European White Paper could also establish the level of cooperation
and coordination desired with other major organisations, such as the
UN, the OSCE, NATO or the African Union.
In the current climate of euro scepticism, developing a European White
Paper could have a useful educational impact, allowing European
citizens to become more aware of the security threats confronting the
EU member states and also proposing possible European solutions. Its
main aim would be to clarify the conditions necessary for a real
reinforcement of all our states and their citizens via the development of