The EU’s intention to consolidate the defense component of European integration is a new element in its declared position.
The European strategy for foreign and security policy presented at the June summit of the European Council is the second document of its kind. The first European Security Strategy (ESS) was adopted in 2003. However, after the Caucasus crisis, on December 11, 2008 the European Council issued the “Report of the Implementation of the European Security Strategy: Providing Security in a Changing World.”
At that time many politicians in the EU considered revising the ESS but the European Council decided to leave it intact out of fear that debate might produce serious disagreements, especially as regards Russia. As a result, the ESS was only supplemented with new security challenges (cyber-security, energy security and climate change) deemed unconventional threats.
The new security strategy comes at a time when the EU is undergoing the most difficult period in the history of European integration – the consequences of the economic and financial crisis that revealed the shortcomings and miscalculations of this project, the migration crisis against the backdrop of the growing terrorist threat that aggravated Euroskepticism, and the crisis in relations with Russia over Ukraine.
The first two crises, embodied in Brexit, pose a threat to the future of European integration. This does not apply to the Ukraine crisis although it has greatly undermined Russia-EU relations. It is obviously complicating the domestic and foreign agenda for the EU and diverting resources from other urgent challenges but it does not call into doubt the integration project itself. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini believes that the British referendum is compelling the EU to reaffirm its role and demonstrate the common interests of its members in foreign and security policy as well as on energy resources, trade and migration.
The strategy for foreign and security policy is defining EU tasks at the domestic, regional and global levels, with an emphasis on involving its neighbors in targeted partnerships. Faced with domestic and foreign challenges, the EU adopted a more realistic approach to Russia in its new ESS, which notes the interdependence between Russia and the EU and Russia’s decisive role in the strategic neighborhood and calls for more balanced and productive relations with the largest Eastern neighbor on some of the most important issues of international security. A targeted partnership between the EU and Russia would make it possible to unfreeze bilateral relations despite the persisting difference on the Ukraine conflict.
The EU’s intention to consolidate the defense component of European integration is a new element in its declared position. The document emphasizes that the principles of unification and distribution of resources of all member countries should be applied to all defense expenses. In effect, the ESS confirmed the EU’s commitment to the development of the 2011 Ghent Initiative of the EU’s Defense Ministers that laid the groundwork for a new integration project that came to be called “Pooling and Sharing” and is aimed at the rational use of the military capabilities of the EU countries based on defined roles.
The document recommends that the EU conduct military planning on the basis of the regularly updated Capability Development Plan, whereby the European Defence Agency (EDA) will act as a go-between and will coordinate its military planning with NATO. There is every reason to conclude that the trend towards developing European defense capabilities has become consistent and virtually has no alternative.
As Ms Mogherini said in an interview with Le Monde on June 28, “Europe should seriously ponder its functioning. We can take the result of the British referendum as a signal, an appeal for responsibility and political leadership.” The June summit of the European Council was the first step in this revision process.