November 15, 2016
Is the EU's global strategy paper really our response to Trump?
The council of ministers of foreign affairs is meeting yesterday and today in the shadow of Donald Trump's victory. On the agenda yesterday were Turkey, the Eastern partnership, the Southern neighbourhood and a joint meeting with the ministers of defence. Today, they will discuss cooperation with NATO and the operations under way under the common security and defence policy.
Don't expect any radicalism. The discussion of the "EU Global Strategy" is being hailed as "qualitative leap" in European defence cooperation, but it still falls short of some of the more ambitious proposals in the direction of an EU army. The council conclusions stress the EU's need to "act autonomously" and "enhance its ability to act with partners". In relation with NATO, the Wall Street Journal notes that Brexit offers an opportunity for deeper EU defence cooperation, which the UK traditionally viewed with suspicion as possibly undermining NATO. The council recognises that NATO remains the foundation of collective defence for member states which are part of it, wants "coherence of outcomes" where EU policy and NATO defence planning overlap, and intends to avoid unnecessary duplication. The conclusions introduce a new bit of jargon: the "level of ambition" in relation with the "EU global strategy" priorities. The EU intends to be able to carry out the following missions, which will drive future work in identifying requirements for further action:
- joint crisis management operations in the regions surrounding the EU;
- joint air and special operations;
- civilian and military rapid response, including using the EU Battlegroups;
- substitution/executive civilian missions;
- air security operations, including close air support and air surveillance;
- maritime security or surveillance operations, including longer term in the vicinity of Europe;
- civilian capacity building and security sector reform missions; and
- military capacity building including robust force protection.