The EU on Monday adopted the “strategic compass” which provides, in particular, for the creation of a rapid deployment force of 5,000 men.
Correspondent in Brussels
EU foreign and defense ministers on Monday adopted the “strategic compass,” the European equivalent of the defense white paper. “I do not mean to abuse the word historic, but it is certainly a turning point for the EU as a security provider.“, welcomed the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security. He has been working on the subject for two years without arousing much enthusiasm from the Twenty-seven. The context of recent weeks has changed the situation.
The 47-page document lists the challenges facing the bloc and the responses to be given by 2030, the risks related to cyberattacks from terrorism or climate change, tensions in Africa or in the nearby neighborhood. Of course, the document takes into account the two significant events of the last few months, namely the hasty withdrawal of the Americans from Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine described as “EU tectonic disorder».« The return to war in Europe, with Russia’s unprovoked and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, as well as major geopolitical changes, are testing our ability to promote our vision and defend our interests.“, is stipulated in the preamble.
A rapid force of 5,000 men.
If Europeans are increasingly united on these issues, it will still have taken two ambassadorial meetings on Monday to reach an agreement, then formally adopted by ministers. “There are still some balances to find“, confided a diplomat in the morning. In concrete terms, the Member States undertake to be “able to act quickly and vigorously whenever a crisis occurs, with partners if possible and only if necessary“. To do this, a rapid deployment capacity will be created capable of mobilizing up to 5,000 men by 2025 to react to “different types of seizures“. It will be based on the “battle groups” created in 2007 and will be made up of “land, air and sea components“. It will also be endowed with transportation capabilities that allow it tocarry out rescue and evacuation interventions for European citizensin case of conflict. The exercises will be performed regularly. At the same time, the EU’s civilian and military missions will benefit from the mandates.”more robust and flexible, promoting rapid decision making».
Military spending is also emphasized. Although figures are not given, it is likely that the EU will align itself with the NATO objective of dedicating 2% of GDP per year to them. “We need to invest more if we want to be able to respond to crises“Joseph Borrell said. The Union spends only 1.5% of its GDP per year on defence, ie €200 billion. “This is 3-4 times more than Russia. It’s just like China. Are we that effective? It is a questionquestioned Josep Borrell, pointing to the fragmentation of European defense but defending himself from wanting to create a European army. The goal is “invest more and better in innovative capabilities and technologies, close strategic gaps and reduce technological and industrial dependencies“. The cursor is thus placed on the missing equipment, for example, drones and battle tanks. Germany, whose military spending was chronically low, has already announced that it will release an endowment of 100,000 million euros this year and will dedicate more than 2 % of its GDP to its defense in the coming years.
“A Guide to Action”
The EU strategy is part of “enhanced” partnerships with NATO, the United Nations, the OSCE and the African Union. Article 42-7 of the EU Treaties, regarding mutual assistance to Member States, is mentioned on several occasions. “The most hostile security environment forces us (…) to guarantee solidarity and mutual aid“, is stipulated. A way of implying that the six neutral countries of the EU -Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden- would be helped in the face of possible attacks.
The strategic compass has an implementation schedule that spans several years. Josep Borrell admitted at the end of the press conference that it was not, in itself, a miracle tool. “No document changes realityhe pointed. But actions need a guide. And that is the strategic compass, a guide to action“. The Twenty-seven will return to the issue at the end of the week, during the planned summit in Brussels, and to which Joe Biden will join on Thursday.