The Lisbon Decade

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The EU should prepare a white paper on military policy and thereby accelerate the establishment of a more powerful EU intervention force. This is demanded by the authors of a voluminous strategy paper on the EU's "Security and Defense Policy" (ESDP), published by the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation in cooperation with other think tanks in Spain and France. According to this report, particularly the military buildup inside the EU must be better coordinated, to enable the equipment with the most modern weaponry in spite of financial limitations. The European arms industries must be more consolidated, which with the favorable conditions created by the Lisbon Treaty coming into effect, can now be initiated with the help of a white paper. The authors, two of whom are regular employees of the Friederich Ebert Foundation, consider that over the next few years, the EU must be closely coordinated with NATO - which it will "not be able to replace" before 2020. But the EU need not be ashamed of its armies, says the paper. Its member nations maintain a force of nearly 2 million soldiers, with financing of up to 200 billion Euros per year.

A Military Policy Roadmap

The new EU military policy strategy paper, recently published by the SPD affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), is the result of the cooperation between 3 organizations. Involved alongside the FES in establishing this study was the Spanish Fundación Alternativas affiliated with the social democratic PSOE (Socialist Workers Party of Spain) and the French Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS) close to the former French socialist, Pascal Boniface. The authors predict that the next ten years will be "the decade of the Lisbon Treaty," which will be of fundamental importance for the EU. The aging population, the energy dependence and - in comparison to Asia - the modest economic growth threaten to reduce European influence on global policy, which is why counter-measures must be taken. The governments of the EU nations should agree on a military policy "roadmap" - a "white paper on security and defense policy." With the Lisbon Treaty taking effect, obligating all member nations, among other things, to make common efforts in arms procurement and to establish a common foreign policy,[1] the prerequisites have been furnished.[2]

EU Group in NATO

According to this social democrat inspired study, the "rather difficult" relations between the EU and NATO are first to be improved. The EU "will not replace NATO before 2020 as a system of collective defense;" until then the western war alliance must be used more than it has been over the past few years. Parallel to the new NATO strategy, to be decided upon this year, there is the possibility of reaching a basic agreement on the relationship between the EU and NATO. This is also desirable because the USA is increasingly oriented toward East Asia. Washington has let it be known that the 21st century will be mainly determined by the US / Chinese relations.[3] The authors propose that the EU and NATO combine their "centers of excellence" of their armed forces including the civilian-military cooperation as well as their cyber-defense. But the paper advises that it would be in the interests of the EU member countries to form a "European group" in NATO to strengthen their clout through consultations with one another.

Too Little Presence

In East Asia, the world’s boom region par excellence, the EU still has much too little influence, the authors complain. The EU should therefore intensify its engagement in Asia particularly concentrating on cooperation with the ASEAN member states. Berlin is hoping to pit these countries against Beijing and with their assistance contain Beijing's progress.[4] According to this strategy paper, "for China the EU is not a major strategic actor" due to its lack of presence in Asia. Brussels should therefore try to build a strategic security partnership with Beijing. The EU should furthermore aim to influence China’s Africa policies and persuade China to change its policy of non-interference into the internal affairs of other countries. With this policy Beijing is offering particularly African countries an alternative to the western neo-colonialist interventions.[5]

Model USA

The paper argues that the EU should not be ashamed of its military capacities. The 27 EU member states collectively spend around 180 to 200 billion Euros per year for their armed forces involving some 1.8 to 2 million soldiers. Even though the total sum is only about one-third of the US defense budget, the direct comparison is far-fetched, because the United States is Europe’s closest ally. But it would be worth monitoring attentively the US military practice to adjust the European approach. After all, European military expenditures are already far outstripping those of potential competitors such as Russia and China.

A Military Revolution

Nevertheless, the EU member states need to focus their military expenditures, according to the paper published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The authors insist on the need for a "revolution in military affairs". The systematic coordination of the national armed forces and arms programs would, in the long run, enhance striking capabilities. Common arms programs and joint military exercises must "increasingly be the rule". Brussels should also create a "European Military School, with a specific budget and linked to a real European Security and Defense College". The individual countries have to pool their arms and troops on a European level and have to coordinate their strategic defense plans. The paper queries whether Europe really needs three competing combat aircraft producers (Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen) and is recommending a broad consolidation of the European arms industry.

Civilian Reserve

The authors leave no doubt that military efforts should be of prime importance to secure global clout, but they are warning to "resist the temptation to focus solely on the ESDP". In general, a combination of civilian and military missions can be useful in securing domination. What is more, "civilian missions are important for maintaining and increasing the currently high level of public support" of the ESDP among EU citizens. For the future civilian military projects, the authors of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation propose to set up an EU Civilian Reserve (EUCR) of at least 2,000 specialists. The EUCR should function like a military reserve: The specialists would undergo regular training and be on stand-by. The authors hope that civilian military expansion capacities would suffice to implement the global strategic interests of the EU member states - interests that can no longer be implemented by individual countries, such as Germany.

[1] see also The Hegemon's Army
[2] sämtliche Zitate aus: Borja Lasheras, Christoph Pohlmann, Christos Katsioulis, Fabio Liberti: European Union Security and Defence White Paper. A Proposal, www.fes.de 2010
[3] see also Fear of Demotion, Zweite Liga and Fear of Demotion (II)
[4] see also Strategisches Scharnier, Auf nach Asien! (II) and Anti-China Coalition
[5] see also The Principle of Interference