Tag Archives: defence

EU defence progress

Brussels, 20.11.2020 The Council approved conclusions on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Strategic Review 2020. The review assesses the progress made on PESCO and provides guidance for the next phase (2021-2025) on the overall aim, policy goals, incentives and projects. (Image: Dassault Rafale factory, France).

The review highlights the need to fulfil the more binding commitments and achieve concrete outputs and tangible deliverables by 2025.

It stresses the importance of making tangible progress towards a coherent Full Spectrum Force Package that strengthens the EU’s military ability to act. It also highlights and reaffirms key objectives such as those connected to defence investments, more systematic use of EU defence tools in national planning processes, enhancing the EU’s operational effectiveness and developing the necessary capabilities.

The review highlights some incentives for giving PESCO more visibility at the political level and increasing the degree of transparency between member states on the way in which they are fulfilling their commitments, notably in the operational area.

The review also highlights a list of 26 PESCO projects which will deliver concrete results or reach full operational capability before the end of 2025.

Launched in December 2017, PESCO represents a step-change in defence cooperation within the European Union. PESCO is a framework which allows willing and able EU member states to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

To date 25 EU member states have undertaken binding commitments that form the basis of PESCO. There are currently 46 collaborative projects in various areas: training facilities, land formation systems, maritime and air systems, cyber, and enabling joint multiple services or space projects.

The 25 member states participating in PESCO are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

On 5 November, the Council established the general conditions under which non-EU countries could exceptionally be invited to participate in individual PESCO projects, thereby paving the way for stronger and more ambitious defence cooperation with partners in the EU framework.

NATO extends Stoltenberg mandate

NATO Allies agreed on March 28, 2019 to extend the mandate of Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (60) by a further two years, until 30 September 2022.

Jens StoltenbergNorwegian politician, who served twice as Prime minister. During his mandates the defence spending increased substantially, resulting in Norway becoming one of the highest per capita defence contributors among allies of NATO. He has been enhancing  modernisation of the Norwegian armed forces, and conducted policies contributing troops to various NATO operations.

Merkel wishes Brexit on “good terms”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said  she wanted the UK and the European Union to part on good terms.

I care now that we and Britain divorce in a good process so that afterwards we can still work closely together in the areas where we must cooperate – on defense, on domestic security, on policing, on combating terrorism, and in trade too, and so that Britain can take part in our research projects if they want,Merkel said.

Stoltenberg on 'essential' dialog with Russia

“Dialogue can be difficult, but it is also essential and in times of raised tensions, such as now, it is particularly important to keep channels of communication open. At today’s meeting, we had a frank and useful discussion on three key issues: Ukraine, Afghanistan, and transparency and risk reduction. In the case of Ukraine, NATO Allies and Russia continue to have fundamental disagreements. The Crimean issue and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine remain clear points of contention, and heavy weapons have not been withdrawn from the conflict zone. The Minsk Agreements provide the best chance of a solution to the conflict, but they need to be implemented, and the work of the OSCE monitors need to be allowed to proceed unimpeded.”

“At today’s meeting, we also discussed the security situation in Afghanistan, which remains challenging. A stable Afghanistan is essential to regional security. NATO Allies and Russia share a common interest to support the National Unity government and to work towards a free, safe and democratic Afghanistan.”

“The third and final topic we discussed was transparency and risk reduction. At previous meetings of the NATO-Russia Council we have given reciprocal briefings on exercises and force posture. Such exchanges are important elements of our continuing dialogue. They help to limit the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculation and unintended escalation. This is why it was significant that at today’s meeting, we exchanged advance briefings on upcoming exercises. Russia briefed on the upcoming ZAPAD 2017 exercise, and NATO briefed on Exercise Trident Javelin 2017. I am encouraged by this progress.  It is a dialogue that can continue at future meetings of this Council.”

“At the same time, these voluntary exchanges do not substitute for the mandatory transparency required under the Vienna Document.”

“So, today’s meeting covered a range of different topics. Our discussion was frank and constructive. Allies and Russia may hold different views but we are committed to continuing our dialogue as part of our commitment to preserving peace and security.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg remaks following the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council

Juncker: EU defence agenda launch

“As you know, the Commission was launching a defence agenda in the recent weeks, and last Wednesday we decided to put into place a European Defence Fund. This Defence Fund is contributing to reduce the inefficiency and the fragmentation costs we are facing dearly”  – said the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at Prague defence and security conference on Friday, 9.06.2017.

“This is not a counter-project to NATO – we are acting together with NATO. I had long conversations before coming here with the Secretary General of NATO. And that is the reason why I was stating this morning that no NATO is not an option for the European Union – it would be a disaster for the European Union – because we have to stick together and we will stick together,” – Juncker added at press-conference in Prague, Friday, 9.06.2017.

EU defence work delivery

The European Union is already delivering concretely on the very ambitious security and defence work, but is also looking beyond the current implementation of decisions, with a new reflection paper looking at future developments for European defence, stressed High Representative Federica Mogherini on the 7th of June 2017 at the presentation of this new document of the European Commission that is also accompanied with a proposal for setting up European Defence Fund.

“Today, the message we are passing is double, I would say. On one side, we are delivering concretely on the very ambitious decisions that we took already at 28 last autumn and we are also looking beyond the current implementation of decisions, with the reflection paper looking at the future developments that we are ready to support if the Member States decide to go further, having for the first time probably the [European] Commission clearly playing its full role in support of the ambition of the European defence,” Mogherini said.

The reflection paper builds on the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe published in March and feeds into the ongoing public debate on this topic. The reflection paper puts forward three progressively ambitious scenarios for enhanced defence cooperation, for discussion by the member states. The scenarios range from voluntary cooperation between member states on a case-by-case basis, complemented by limited EU joint initiatives, to the establishment of a common defence policy underpinned by a greater level of integration of national defence forces, substantially enhanced coordination between the EU and NATO and a genuine European defence market.

 

Stoltenberg debates NATO with MEPs

Addressing the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Sub-Committee on Security and Defence on Wednesday (3 May 2017), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed closer cooperation between the European Union and the Alliance. He stressed that “cooperation is now the norm, not the exception,” and noted that a strong European defence contributes to fair burden-sharing.

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Mr. Stoltenberg also addressed the agenda of the upcoming meeting of NATO leaders in May. Duing the debate Stoltenberg shared his thoughts, reflecting upon questions of 26 MEPs.

Defence: MEPs to upgrade EDA

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 Increasing defence cooperation in the EU now depends more upon the political will to make it happen than upon legal considerations, say MEPs in a resolution approved by Parliament on Thursday. They stress that member states can and should use the treaty tools in place to build a truly common defence policy.

MEPs want the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) to be treated as sui generis EU institutions, like the EU External Action Service, and funded through a specific section in the Union budget.

“This is an ambitious and strategic report that comes at an opportune time, as the Security and Defence Union will be one of the top priorities in the Rome Declaration next week,” –  Co-rapporteur Esteban González Pons (EPP, ES), on behalf of the Constitutional Affairs Committee.

“There is also a general agreement that achieving a common defence is now more necessary than ever. In an unpredictable international climate, we need a common defence policy which reinforces unity, strategic autonomy and integration in order to promote peace and security inside the Union and in the world”, – he added.

The resolution, approved by 360 votes to 212, with 48 abstentions, underlines that developing an EU common defence policy depends, above all, on the political will of member states, given that the Lisbon Treaty already provides a sufficient framework for building a truly common defence policy.

“Member states permanently ignore the fact that the funding of the administrative and operating expenditures for EDA and PESCO from the Union budget is the only option under the Treaties. The decision of 6 March to start the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) was, however, a milestone on the way towards the European Defence Union. By establishing this new military capability, the member states have finally acted upon one of parliament’s longstanding demands, which we repeated in our report, ” – concluded the co-rapporteur Michael Gahler (EPP, DE), for the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Is Pence pessimistic about EU?

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While “unwavering” in its support for Nato, vice-president Mike Pence was silent about the European Union at the Munich Security Conference.

In his address to the European leaders he underlined that US would “stand with Europe today and every day”, but the same time he regretted that the majority of the Euope’s governments were “failing to pay their fair share” for defense, “eroding” the foundation of the alliance. Apparently, enjoying the US security umbrella, only four Nato countries had met a 2014 commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence. Nato estimates for 2016 among allies the UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia met the obligations, while the other were US security ‘consumers’.

However the concerns about the ‘moderation’ of US support to NATO in case the situation will not improve, is secondary to the notion of the disbelief of the new US administration of the survival of the EU beyond 2017.

The US vice-president’s silence does not send an encouragement sign to Brussels, already concerned by the personality of the new US ‘ambassador to be’ to the EU, who compared the current situation in the block with the crumbling USSR. Ted Malloch, belonging to the president’s inner circle, has raised a wave of protests from Brussels politicians by comparing the EU to the Soviet Union, profiling himself as an active contributor to its collapse.

 

NATO: Mattis shifts accents

NATO HQ: Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis at his press conference read carefully worded statement, with accents on the unity of the Alliance. He also softened the message on budget, expressing belive that there will be no need to ‘moderate’ on the US position, because all the allies understand the importance of  defence. Mattis also hardened the language towards Kremlin, reminding of “Russian aggression” in Ukraine. However the velvet glove did not cast doubts on his intention to implement the initial message both in reforming NATO, ending the system for a number of the European allies to benefit from the the US as security consumers, neither his intention to find new ways to co-operate with Russia on defeating terrorism.

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