EU War Coalitions of the Willing (II)

EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Josep Borrell proposes new EU military policy plans: a new Rapid Deployment Capacity, new Rapid Hybrid Response Teams, coalitions of the willing.

BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Own report) - The EU's Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, proposes the creation of an EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of 5000 troops and new "EU Rapid Hybrid Response Teams." Both are included in the blueprint of the EU's "Strategic Compass," presented yesterday by Borrell in Brussels. The blueprint has been drawn up over the past year on German initiative and is intended to give new clout to the EU's foreign and military policy. The final document is set to be approved in March next year. Next Monday, it will be submitted to the foreign ministers of that cartel of European states. The blueprint proposes the creation of a joint military intervention force ("EU Rapid Deployment Capacity"), which, according to Borrell, could be deployed without the approval of all EU member states and, for example, sent to Libya to enforce a cease-fire. It also proposes new measures in the power struggle against Russia and China, including the expansion of the EU's naval presence in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Particularly Eastern European EU states are seeking to prevent greater EU independence from the United States ("Strategic Autonomy").

"A Guide to Action"

The plan to provide the EU's foreign, but particularly, its military policy - which, so far, has often been hampered by its member states' conflicting interests - new clout by agreeing on a "Strategic Compass," has already been presented by the German government in Brussels in 2019. [1] On June 16, the EU defense ministers commissioned the EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell to launch the development of a "Strategic Compass." Its key element was to be a "threat assessment," compiled by EU countries' intelligence services. This was still achieved under Germany's EU Council presidency in the second half of 2020. On the basis of this intelligence assessment, work on the "Compass" was then continued. In the meantime, a document allegedly comprising 28 pages has been elaborated to be submitted to the EU's foreign ministers next Monday. In December, EU leaders will discuss an amended version, while the final document is set to be approved during France's EU Council presidency - probably in March 2022. “This is not another EU paper, this is a guide to action,” Borrell stressed.[2]

Against Russia and China

In addition to regional conflicts, the blueprint of the "Strategic Compass" reportedly targets particularly Russia and China. Russia's "actions in our common neighborhood and in other theatres contradict the EU's vision of the world and its interests,"[3] the documents states, adding however that the EU must continue cooperating with Moscow on "some specific issues" such as climate. Conflicts are looming at next Monday's negotiations. According to a report, unnamed EU diplomats have announced that they want "threats" posed by Moscow, from allegedly weaponizing energy supply to "hybrid actions" to be explicitly mentioned in the document. According to the draft, China is "a partner, an economic competitor and a systemic rival", a triad stemming from Germany's economy and Berlin's foreign policy.[4] Whereas cooperation with the People's Republic should be continued in certain fields, the EU should seek to expand its naval presence in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, such as patrols and joint exercises with Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and India.[5]

Coalitions of the Willing

The creation of a new EU reaction force, which had been proposed already on May 6, by 14 EU states, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, will be given special significance. The force of up to 5,000 troops will include land, air and maritime components. It is to be formed of "flexible modules in accordance with concrete situations" to be "rapidly deployable." According to reports, the EU would reach agreement on "operational scenarios" in 2022 and begin regular live exercises in 2023.[6] From 2025, the force bearing the name the "EU Rapid Deployment Capacity" is scheduled to be operational. To prevent that a deployment will be thwarted due to disagreements among member states - as is the case of the fully operational since 2007 EU Battle Groups - "decision-making should be made on the basis of more flexible agreements." Thus, as Germany's Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer recently demanded, the EU should be able to go to war with "coalitions of the willing," wherein some of the member states would not participate.[7] For this, the use of a "constructive abstention“ in a decisive vote could serve the purpose, it was reported.[8]

"Alone When Necessary"

However, differences are still surfacing. For example, an East European diplomat was quoted having said, “unanimity" needs to remain "the EU's guiding principle".[9] Several Eastern European states, particularly Poland and the Baltic countries, are known for clearly banking on cooperation with the USA and NATO and remain skeptical to any independent EU military operations. To weaken both these objections, but also pressure from Washington, the "strategic autonomy," Brussels strives to reach - especially at the initiative of France and Germany - is not explicitly mentioned in the "Strategic Compass" blueprint. Instead, the document merely states that the EU must take "more responsibility for its own security;" It should proceed "with partners whenever possible" and "alone when necessary." In addition, the EU should initiate a "security and defense dialogue" with the United States in the coming year, the draft paper announces. On the relationship between the EU and NATO, the "Strategic Compass" makes reference to the joint declaration by the two alliances, due to be presented this year.

Shrinking maneuverability Leeway

Statements made by the EU's Foreign Affairs Commissioner Borrell on the background of the "Strategic Compass," indicate that one of the defining factors in the formulation of strategies in Brussels is the incipient decline of the West. A group of experts at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) recently remarked, "many countries in the EU’s direct neighborhood" are "developing a growing dependence on Russia, China or even Turkey;" as a consequence, "nationally and internationally, Germany is increasingly losing its maneuverability."[10] Now, Borrell admits that the EU's threat analysis shows "we’re living in a much more hostile world, that our economic space is more and more disputed, our strategic space more and more contested and our political space, more and more degraded.” Today, "threats are coming from everywhere." Of course, Brussels is not reacting to them by de-escalating, but with increased arms buildups. Supplementary to the new reaction force, the blueprint for the "Strategic Compass" proposes the creation of other units: the "EU Rapid Hybrid Response Teams," to rapidly react too hybrid attacks. The EU assumes that a "hybrid attack" is currently taking place at Poland and Lithuania's borders with Belarus, where - with the accord of Belarus authorities - refugees are seeking refuge in the Union.[11] Other "hybrid attacks" are expected in the future.


[1] See also The EU's Strategic Compass

[2] Alexandra Brzozowski: Europe has to become a security provider, says EU's Borrell. 10.11.2021.

[3] Alexandra Brzozowski: LEAK: What the EU's future military strategy could look like. 10.11.2021.

[4] See also Der neue Systemkonflikt (II).

[5] Alexandra Brzozowski: LEAK: What the EU's future military strategy could look like. 10.11.2021.

[6] James Crisp: EU could deploy new military force without asking permission of all member states. 10.11.2021.

[7] See also EU War Coalitions of the Willing

[8], [9] Alexandra Brzozowski: LEAK: What the EU's future military strategy could look like. 10.11.2021.

[10] See also Strategy Recommendations for the Next German Government (I)

[11] See also Flüchtlingssterben im Niemandsland (II).