Insular Military Solutions


BERLIN (Own report) - On the occasion of the December European Council meeting on European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation is applying pressure to have new steps made toward the intensification of EU military cooperation. According to a paper recently published by the foundation, the meeting - the first of its kind since 2003 - should assist in significantly enhancing the military clout of European countries. Given the fact that European military budgets are continuing to shrink and the previous rudiments of closer cooperation ("pooling and sharing") have not really taken hold, new measures must be introduced. Under the slogan, "Insular Solutions," the foundation pleads for the integration of the armed forces of a few states, first, at the regional level, to then make further attempts to consolidate these at the EU level. This concept is not only aimed at wearing down existing national resistance to the possible weakening of national arms industries, but also to weaken the British-French military alliance founded in November 2011 - seen as an obstacle to German military predominance in the EU.

New Swing

The proposals on EU military policy, being raised in the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation's recently published strategy paper, is initially directed toward the European Council on European Security and Defense Policy to be held in December. The author of the paper, Maik Zarandi, member of the Young Foreign and Security Policy specialists working group at the foundation, points to the fact that this will be the first meeting of heads of governments of its kind since 2003. It will offer "a great opportunity" to "provide new swing at the top political level" to "the multifaceted, deficient project of reinforcing EU defense policy capabilities," according to Zarandi.[1] This is desperately necessary for two reasons.

Pushing from Behind

On the one hand, the EU must develop appreciably stronger activities in the future than those in the past, Zarandi writes. This is because the United States has now begun concentrating its military capacity on Eastern Asia and the Pacific realm. Therefore, in the European setting, the EU countries must, to a growing extent, assume the armed control functions. Whereas the USA's role in the war on Libya was already less prominent than it had been against Iraq ("leading from behind"), in the long run, one can expect Washington to switch from a "helping from behind" to a "pushing from behind" posture. This will apply to the region ranging from North Africa - Sahel zone included - through the Middle East, all the way to the Caucasus. However, in the USA there is considerable resentment over the reductions in military budgets inside the EU - on an average of twelve percent since 2009 [2] - which is also affecting NATO and will, at least, hamper the European countries' capability to take on a leading role in the region described above, while the US portion of the NATO budget has grown from 63 to 72 percent over the past ten years. New military and arms policy efforts, on the part of EU countries, are considered inevitable.

18 out of 200

On the other hand, in spite of all those cutbacks, complains Zarandi, EU efforts are not really advancing the enhancement of the military strength of its armies. This pertains to the so-called pooling and sharing. The idea of carrying out costly arms projects in cooperation with other EU countries, of reducing duplications in arms acquisitions by creating multinational units, and of promoting a specialization of national armed forces, to free other countries from the necessity of acquiring the same capacity, has, until now, been insufficiently carried out, according to the paper. Whereas the European Defense Agency had tabled around 200 "pooling and sharing" proposals in 2011, only 11 of these were adopted by the relevant national defense ministers in the same year. These, in the meantime, "are in varying stages of implementation." In 2012, seven more projects were added. Inside NATO, cooperation has also been sluggish.

Divergent Concepts of Expansion

According to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation paper, the causes can to be found, on the one hand, in power struggles, particularly between major EU countries for their arms industrial and military predominance in Europe, and on the other, in divergent concepts of expansion. For example, over the past decade the "level of consensus in security policy" within the EU, has "diminished rather than grown." There is, for example, a "divergent southward vs. eastward security policy prioritization." The latter evidently refers to German-French dissention, which had already in the 1990s been clearly apparent, when Germany pushed through a European military intervention in its Southeastern European region of expansion, while blocking EU operations in France's African "backyard" or setting a strict limitation of a few months - in 2003 and 2006 in the Congo. Berlin's blockade against Paris resulted in France entering a military alliance with Great Britain - at the end of 2010 - and carrying out its operations - for example the war on Libya - in closest cooperation with London. Berlin's government advisors have been warning for some time that the British-French alliance is in contradiction to German interests. ( reported.[3]) The aim of the current Konrad Adenauer Foundation's proposals is apparently to neutralize this alliance.

Regional Cooperation

The author thus proposes to accelerate the intra-European military cooperation with so-called insular solutions - projects not involving the entire EU, but in each case only a few of the member countries. This could help promote the cooperation of the European armed forces at least at a regional level. The Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO)[4] or the HELBROC-Battle Group [5] could serve as models. Germany initiated a similar cooperation last spring. In late May, Germany and the Netherlands agreed to cooperate more closely, which will include the procurement of drones, joint military air transport and the subordination of a Dutch brigade to the Bundeswehr's Division Schnelle Kräfte (rapid forces division). Berlin also succeeded in reaching an accord with Poland on the closer cooperation of their navies, explicitly pertaining to "joint (...) deployments." ( reported.[6])

A Signal to the USA

The proposal of gradually reaching a pan-European cooperation via a series of regional cooperations is obviously also aiming at ultimately integrating the Anglo-French military alliance, as one of the numerous "insular solutions," into the German dominated EU structures. However, if some of the proposals of the Adenauer Foundations would be implemented, this could contribute to the dismantling of the Anglo-French entente. The idea of establishing a "joint Air Force with the Netherlands and the Czech Republic" is being brought into the discussion as well as the "establishment, together with the Netherlands and Denmark, of the F124 frigate's full capacity as a shooter with SM3 anti-ballistic missile missiles." According to the Adenauer Foundation, this latter project could be a "significant contribution to NATO's ballistic anti-missile defense" and thereby a "clear signal to the USA" that Germany would "assume more transatlantic responsibility."

Against the London-Paris Axis

The Adenauer Foundation is particularly promoting the "development and procurement of the next generation of fighter jets together with the UK and France," as well as the "procurement, together with France and Poland, of two joint support ships." The fighter jet promotion is directed against Paris: In India and possibly in Brazil, the French Rafale has prevailed over the Eurofighter (in which Germany and the UK are also involved). The Adenauer Foundation's proposal could lead to the integration and even liquidation of an autonomous French fighter jet. If Berlin succeeds to win London over, new conflicts could arise between London and Paris. The proposal to arm the navy in cooperation with not only Poland but also France could also drive a wedge into the Anglo-French entente: Such cooperation would clearly compete with the Anglo-French naval cooperation. The Adenauer Foundation's proposals are aimed at splitting the British-French alliance, thus prolonging the power struggles for leadership in the nascent EU military structures.

[1] All quotations: Zarandi, Maik: Europäische Insellösungen als Fundament einer Stärkung der europäischen Verteidigungsfähigkeiten? Analysen und Argumente der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Ausgabe 130, Oktober 2013
[2] Wolfgang Ischinger, Thomas Enders: Die Fähigkeitslücke; 26.04.2013
[3] see also The New Entente Cordiale
[4] NORDEFCO beinhaltet Dänemark, Finnland, Schweden, Island und Norwegen.
[5] HELBROC umfasst Griechenland, Bulgarien, Rumänien und Zypern.
[6] see also Under German Command