The Guest Blog

Guest post by Hristiana Grozdanova and Anna Maria Barcikowska.

Since the autumn of 2008, the financial crisis and its implications has dictated the EU policies. The pressures on EU governments to control expenditure continue to be enormous. Defence has not remain immune raising important questions how Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the EU can function in this new environment and even if it can survive austerity. Some commentators see it only as a question of choices – how much does defence matter and where does it stand in national priorities, missing a critical point: without a strong security and defence policy in the EU, underpinned by credible military capabilities, Europe risks becoming a marginalized, second-tier player.

On March 29, in his speech on Polish Foreign Policy for 2012, Radek Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, painted a bleak scenario: “A divided Europe loses its chance to remain a key player in international trade and politics. Tired with defence spending stinginess and a general European inefficiency, the USA opt out of NATO. Russia fills the void left by the West in the East; China fills the void in Asia. The Arab world is engulfed by transformation crises. Europe is no longer a role model for anyone”.

This is evidently a worst-case scenario, but if EU wants to contribute to promoting and preserving peace and stability and use actively and effectively instruments at its disposal for crisis management and conflict prevention, European leaders will have to rethink their commitment to CSDP.

Radek Sikorski observed, based on the experience of the Polish Presidency of the EU (July – December 2011), that CSDP is unfortunately impossible to implement in a group of 27 member states and stressed that the EU must initiate tighter cooperation between willing countries.

This is perhaps the solution. Europe’s role in the world can only be sustained through enhanced defence cooperation and a group of like-minded Member States ready to drive CSDP forward can be much more effective. It can act as avant-garde that others will, hopefully, follow.

In December 2010, Poland together with France and Germany launched the “Weimar Initiative” making it clear that there is need to give a fresh impetus to CSDP and take bold decision to make it more cost-effective and cost-efficient at the same time. One of such bold decisions considered under Weimar Initiative was the proposal to establish permanent civil-military planning and command structures for EU operations. Infrastructure, personnel and expertise for planning, command and control exist in all countries and military organizations in the form of military headquarters. Those headquarters are the link between the political decision-makers and military organizations.

Unlike NATO, the EU has no permanent military headquarters and specific structures and responsibilities are split between the Union and its Member States. In practical terms, this means that when a military operation is to take place, the EU has to activate different entities ad hoc and bring them together. Therefore, having EU headquarters would help to overcome the present shortage of the system where to launch an operation and activate an Operational Headquarters (OHQ) a Council Decision is required each time. It would also significantly improve operational efficiency of EU crisis management and facilitate more effective use of resources. What is more, the EU can use the HQs of five of its Member States, or NATO structures or activate Operations Centre in Brussels.

This proposal, advocated vigorously for during Polish Presidency of the EU, failed to muster sufficient support, in particular due to strong opposition from the UK. However, it was not an entirely wasted effort as it led to a compromise agreement to activate the EU’s dormant ‘operations centre’. For the first time since it was created in 2007, the dormant operation centre has been put in practice to help conduct the EU’s operations in the Horn of Africa.

The difficulties to take forward the Weimar Initiative exposed the inherent problems of CSDP and the fragile balance between the need to collectively improve military capabilities and the concerns over national sovereignty and power. The Weimar initiative is not a new idea for the European Union. Similar initiatives have failed in the past due to lukewarm political support. If the EU wants to remain engaged in crisis management and carry – out complex civil-military tasks, European leaders have to finally pull their weight on security and defence.

The new US Defence Strategic guidance while reorienting towards Asia-Pacific suggests that Europeans have to do more not less, making clear that there will be no more free rides. If Europeans want the US to remain engaged and committed, they need to demonstrate a greater willingness to assume a larger share of the security and defence burden. To do so in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades is a real challenge for CSDP and will require a serious effort and continuous political momentum to get it back on track.

Common Security and Defence Policy can only be as effective and ambitious as Member States want it to be. Rethinking CSDP in times of austerity and strategic shifts will require revisiting approaches and ideas that might previously have seemed politically unacceptable but now are a necessity. Radek Sikorski concluded in his foreign policy speech that stronger EU means offloading past burdens and past inhibitions. This is the way forward for CSDP.

 

Hristiana Grozdanova is an EU policy advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, working on issues related to Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU.

Anna Maria Barcikowska is a Senior Officer at the European Defence Agency. The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Defence Agency.

Both are members of the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist Working Group.
This article was also published here.

 

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  1. We can see that it is possible for the French Presidential Elections to be influenced by Kosovo.

    Angela Merkel made known that she wanted French President Nicolas Sarkozy elected as the next French President rather than any of the other Candidates for French President.

    It could be that Germany really does not care, because the Franco-German alliance is the way for France and Germany to proceed, regardless of who forms the Government.

    If another Candidate should become French President, then Germany can deceptively have others think that Germany is disappointed, and that there will be no Fourth Reich to menace and exploit the smaller Continental European Countries, but the reality will be different.

    The other Candidate appears to not be saying much, except the Me Too to the popular Policies of Sarkozy, and only saying the minimum, because he may know that these Videos on Kosovo in the French Language a week before the first round of Voting will tell the French People that Sarkozy has Dishonoured France and the French People.

    It will however, affect Sarkozy and his Political Party, even if it does not affect the Franco-German domination of Continental Europe.

    We all know that there will be a Presidential Election in France soon, and that the French People are Honourable people, and that they value their Honour, because the French People are not Nazis as Sarkozy and Merkel think.

    There could be certain groups who will put a Video in the French Language of Kosovo on the Internet to prove to the French People that President Sarkozy has Dishonoured France and he has Dishonoured the French People.

    These groups may not necessarily be European Governments of the smaller Countries, because many of them could be Puppets of Germany, but they could be ordinary citizens who do not like the menace or exploitation of the Fourth Reich.

    I basically think that the time to judge the Government is during their time in Office, and not during the Campaign Election.

    The Politicians know that Most People have short memories, and that they will only concentrate on the smoke and mirrors of what the promises of different Parties and Candidates are.

    I know that it is extremely difficult for Voters to not be influenced by Election Promises, because History proves that People are not as experienced in the ways of deceptive Politicians, as they really should be.

    Sarkozy said late last year and before the Presidential Elections, that France must be more like Germany.

    However, now that it is the Election Campaign, and a time to lie and lie big, Sarkozy says that he wants a Europe that protects its citizens, and that he no longer wants this savage competition.

    The possible group or groups who make this Video in the French Language, and place it on the Internet would want Sarkozy to lose on the first round of Voting on 22 April 2012.

    They would want this because, they think that they might be able to have Angela Merkel and her Party lose the next German Election, because of using a German Language Video of Kosovo on the Internet during the next German Elections.

    They may be right, but they should realize that it will not change Germany regardless of who the Government is.

    This is because German interests define German policy, but they may be satisfied with taking the credit for Angela Merkel and her Party lose the Election, because the German People cannot have blatant Nazis in power, and they need the Opposition Parties who are more subtle, and not stained by the Kosovo affair.

    It could be that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, may say that France wants the Kumanovo Agreement scrapped, and Germany may also ask America to do them this favour as a NATO Ally, but will Sarkozy and Merkel mean it after the French Presidential Election, and even the upcoming Serbian Elections.

    We know that in the past, France did actually leave NATO, because of a disagreement, and we know that France later rejoined NATO, and the French left NATO over a matter concerning Honour.

    We know that America and the European Union will do a lot to help Tadic and Dacic win the Elections, because they are there Puppets.

    It could that they may scrap the Kumanovo Agreement to help their Puppets win the Elections, because they know that even as things can be done before the Elections, they can also be undone after the Elections.

    There are Many People who hope that the French Voters ignore all promises made by all Political Parties during their Election Campaign.

    This is because the real truth of the Political Parties is their attitudes and actions between Election Campaigns, and not at the Election Campaign, because Election time that is the time they lie big, and only during Government or Opposition is when they are more honest, as History repeatedly proves.

    This is because the Wise will assume that they will all be unable to fulfil their Economic Policies, and this Election Theme, is: It Is Time For A Change.

    The French Voters should know that Sarkozy may dishonour France and they may dishonour the French People, because of their attitudes concerning Serbia’s Province of Kosovo.

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