September 13, 2016
Is defence going to be the next core of EU integration?
Suddeutsche and the FT got their hands on a six-page joint document of France and Germany laying out a moderately ambitious plan of future defence co-operation in the EU. The plan was drafted by Ursula von der Leyen and Jean-Yves Le Drian, the respective defence ministers, and foresees joint headquarters to run joint EU military and civilian missions, such as the Sophia operation to stop the smuggling of migrants into the EU. The two sides also want to share reconnaissance satellites, and create new joint medical and logistics units.
This constitutes the second joint security proposal this year, after an earlier joint paper on internal security, proposed by the two countries' interior ministers.The paper will be presented to the Bratislava summit this week. The Franco-German plan is to gain general agreement at the summit and then pass the proposal on to the defence council for speedy implementation;
The two sides plan to use the Art 44 TEU as the legal basis for the new cooperation, which has so far not been used. Similar to enhanced co-operation, Art 44 allows a subgroup of countries to forge ahead with integration on common and foreign and security policy:
"...the Council may entrust the implementation of a task to a group of Member States which are willing and have the necessary capability for such a task. Those Member States, in association with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, shall agree among themselves on the management of the task.
Member States participating in the task shall keep the Council regularly informed of its progress on their own initiative or at the request of another Member State. Those States shall inform the Council immediately should the completion of the task entail major consequences or require amendment of the objective, scope and conditions determined for the task in the decisions referred to in paragraph 1. In such cases, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions."
Suddeutsche notes that the member states have not used Art 44 before because of special consideration for the UK. The FT has the additional information that the joint initiative also includes joint training courses for military personnel to develop a European esprit de corps.