EU Defence Policy – Part Two

Part 2 of a series on the EU's defence policy

A guest post from Technoelite on EU Defence Policy

Current Operations

The European Parliament is in session!

EU Flag Raising Ceremony (I know its a UKIP video but its the only one I can find of the whole event which isn’t from the mainstream media)

At the end of the Cold War a combined rapid reaction force called Eurocorps was established. It comprised of personnel from the main western European nations except the the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ireland and was principally designed to work alongside NATO in peacekeeping missions, the Balkans for example.

This video below shows a German tank unit that was part of the KFOR NATO mission under the Eurocorps

One might think that the new EU Common Defence and Security Policy would be designed to work alongside the NATO framework like Eurocorps did in the early 90’s.

This is not the case; as seen in my first post, the structure of the policy and organisation are completely separate from NATO. Some view this as a method of counterbalancing American and British influence within NATO policy making, that allows Europe to project its power abroad with one voice.

The video example below shows the EU speaking as one voice on the Ukraine issue in Kiev

Representing this vision is Catherine Ashton.

She has overall control of the EU External Action Service with consent provided by the Council of Ministers and European Commission President.

Additional support is provided by representatives of all battle group contributing nations.

What has her main policy initiatives been since the office was created?

The EU mission in Somalia consists of (at the last count) a 650 million Euro Defence and Aid package that includes a training and maritime counter piracy force.

In Mali they delivering a training role.

(British troops are taking part in this under the EU banner)

These are the main ones right now but although relatively small it is clear the EU since the Lisbon treaty is beginning to flex its muscles and putting financial and military resources into overseas missions.

The final part in this short series will look at the future as I see it and ask the question, is it possible we could see a unified European Armed Forces under the European Union?

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 5, 2015 10:57 pm

Maybe, it would sure as hell spice up the super power list.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 5, 2015 11:18 pm

The European Powers have a very long experience of forming “Grand Coalitions” capable of effective military action on a scale that has shaped history (See Marlborough, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Wellington, Foch and Eisenhower)…no requirement whatsoever to create European Armed Forces provided that capacity can be focussed on a common endeavour…and no benefit in doing it without such a common endeavour.

Not least because in circumstances where most European states would sooner reduce than maintain an already pretty modest military effort, I personally have a nasty feeling that the main benefit that most of them would perceive would be the opportunity to reduce their existing efforts still further.


February 5, 2015 11:22 pm

a E650 [billion] aid and security package… to Somalia?

Think Defence
February 5, 2015 11:37 pm
Reply to  jedibeeftrix

Billion, what billion!

February 6, 2015 4:47 am

The only way I could see an EU armed forces was if Europe faced an existential threat from a renewed Russia/Soviet union and the US pulled out of NATO.

European nations foreign policy views are too widely divergent, much the same as their economies and an EU armed forces without a central government would be just as big a disaster as the Euro.

Much better for us to continue to build an EU NATO coalition of the willing with smaller states like the Netherlands and Denmark that can bolt on capabilities to a force with a British core. We also need to work more with countries like Poland and get them to modernise quicker and standardise on a similar equipment fit. I think an EU fund for military modernisation of EU boarder states is a real must. Countries like Poland and the Baltic’s provide a shield for countries in the core like Germany and the core should make a contribution to its overall defence. A fund of say EUR 5 billion a year is only a few % of the commissions budget and money like that could quickly revolutionise the capabilities of nations like Estonia.

Well its unlikely to happen for political reasons having joint equipment procurement and standardisation across the EU NATO countries would go along way to realise the capabilities of an EU Military without the political necessity of having to get 29 members to all vote for military action.

If politics could be put aside I don’t see why all forces in EU NATO could not use the same tank, riffle, fighter aircraft, missiles etc

The EU could then provide certain key enablers like aircraft carrier’s, strategic lift, C4ISTAR and AAR centrally and these assets could be deployed on a simple majority vote in the Council of Ministers. Although I still think all capabilities should be linked to NATO. Having a beefed up EU NATO force capable of operating independently of the USA or in conjunction with will help the USA in the future.

February 6, 2015 8:10 am

“The EU could then provide certain key enablers like aircraft carrier’s, strategic lift, C4ISTAR and AAR centrally and these assets could be deployed on a simple majority vote in the Council of Ministers.”

Lol, the decision to spend blood and treasure is among the most intimate and personal decisions. A recipe for even worse indecision.
A strategically ‘enabled’ EU is practically an oxymoron. Better to build pockets of coordination within the wider NATO framework, such as the Visegrad group, and then forge coalitions on top of that.

February 6, 2015 3:08 pm

Ehhh, this article is slightly out of date. Catherine Ashton is no longer High Representative, she no longer has responsibility for the External Action Service, she has been replaced by Federica Mogherini – the lady in the third video.