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Summary: The Specifically European Defence Policy and Its Planning - EU and Its Member States in the Same Boat

Elmar Brok

The EU and its member states have made great and quick strides concerning the setting up of a framework for a common European security and defence policy (ESDP). This also includes crisis management and the necessity to make national defence reforms easier. The European security policy (ESP), which was carried unanimously by the European Council in December 2003, has certainly been a landmark.

The EU wants to take over its part as a worthy protagonist of security matters, and for this reason will attempt to fight crises actively or avoid them altogether already when they approach. It wants do develop the necessary diplomatic, military and industrial capabilities with stronger determination, and wants to employ the instruments of foreign policy effectively. It stresses its duties, conflict avoidance and crisis management, by supporting regional stability and security, whereas NATO tends to engage in traditional deterrence and defence.

Defence transformation has to concern all areas of defence structures in order to establish appropriate defence instruments for supporting the priorities of security policy. If Europe does not increase its defence expenses, it will still be able to enhance the cooperation in the fields of armament and research in order to bridge capacity bottlenecks. There are five vital areas causing problems for the EU, namely strategic and tactical air transport capacity, long-time effects and logistics (including flight refuelling), effective warfare (including precision weapons), guaranteeing survival for forces and infrastructure (including rescue helicopters), and C4ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance).

The European Defence Agency established recently is supposed on the one hand to increase coherence and to put an end to the fragmentation of European defence capabilities, on the other hand to determine a longer-term strategic alignment as a basis for decision-making in future ESDP-capabilities. On practical realization of missions it turned out that the approach of the EU differs from that of NATO insofar as the military element is intended for supporting a civilian intervention. Artemis was the first military operation of the EU out of Europe and was, unlike the other operations, not supported by NATO. The Europeans showed with this mission that they were prepared to carry out missions beyond Europe’s periphery and to take part in active crisis management.

The political resolutions to transfer the defence matters on to EU-level have meanwhile developed into a security and defence culture actually supporting the member states’ armament politics and security demands. The European Parliament has played an important part supporting this process, and will do so in future as well. The dynamic force existing between EU, NATO, and their member states will result in a deepening of the European security and defence culture, which will be necessary for responding to the present trends.

In the areas of conflict prevention, stabilization, and reconstruction operations, a distinct and coordinated approach can be found by the EU, and armed forces will play only supporting parts in a comprehensive civil intervention. The political framework of the ESP has been extended impressively during the last five years. The European member states have recognized that they have to cooperate more closely within the framework of NATO and EU, in order to both cope with their national defence transformations and establish more efficient multinational defence cooperation.

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Eigentümer und Herausgeber: Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung | Roßauer Lände 1, 1090 Wien
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