New page of EU defense policy?

The expansion of Europe’s autonomy in the areas of defense and security has been debated in the EU for several years. This topic has become even more relevant since February 24th. Experts at the Carnegie European Analysis Center answer The question of how serious the EU’s intentions are in the field of building European defense and security systems.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is recognized in the EU as “crustal movement in European history”. It has made the long-standing debate about European security a matter of practical importance.

After the start of Russia’s “special operations”, the EU has already taken many important steps in this direction. Experts have agreed to strengthen the supply of military equipment and weapons to Ukraine through the European Peace Facility, many agreements on “smarter” investment in defense, and the allocation of € 2 billion to innovation through the EU Defense Innovation Scheme. I am paying attention to. In addition, in March, the European Council formally approved the EU Strategic Compass, an ambitious EU action plan in the field of defense up to 2030, which was developed over several years.

Apart from this, defense spending is increasing in European countries. Most notable is the creation of the € 100 billion German National Defense Fund, which will be used to enhance the country’s defenses. The Dutch government has also approved an additional € 5 billion for defense spending. As a researcher in the security department of the Dutch Institute for International Relations, Clingendael Adaya Stortmann wrote:

“As a result, many European countries will achieve NATO’s goal set in 2014, which is to increase allies’ military spending to 2% of GDP sooner than planned in early 2022. “

Most experts agree that the European Union should play a more important role in European security issues and have the ability to act independently of NATO. At the same time, they are very skeptical of the opinion that the current conflict will accelerate the development of appropriate solutions at the EU level.

Commenting on EU security measures, Alena Kudzko, director of the Globsec Policy Institute, wrote:

Had these actions taken a year ago, they would have been touted as a big leap. But things have changed dramatically. The European defense mark cannot be measured against the former self, but rather against the challenges posed by the enemy.

On the other hand, the possibility of Sweden and Finland joining NATO will lead to a further “layering” of the EU and the North Atlantic Alliance, opening up opportunities for more detailed decentralization of authority between the two structures. On the other hand, the EU’s contribution to collective security has some problems.

The main challenge many authors point out is the lack of coordination in the field of defense. Despite the fact that all EU member states take security issues seriously, their efforts are largely fragmented. This is the result of both historical and geographical features, as well as strategic doctrine and cultural differences, and awareness of threats.

In addition, there are conflicts about the best way to invest in security. According to Daniel Fiot, Defense and Security Editor at the EU Security Institute (EUISS), some countries agree that security costs should be regulated collectively at the level of EU agencies, while security financing Some countries argue that the problem should remain the responsibility of the state. ..

However, not everyone is optimistic about the future of the European Union’s autonomous defense and security system. Many researchers believe that the EU’s ambitions in the field of “strategic autonomy” are unjustified. Note that the EU should focus on other areas, primarily the economy. According to Justyna Gotkowska, coordinator of the Eastern Research Center’s regional security program, EU efforts could include both sanctions pressure and the formation of economic relations, as well as crisis response regulations. In addition, the European Union needs to take full advantage of its “transformative power”. This is to promote European norms and values ​​by joining the EU, mainly in the Western Balkans. The defense role should remain with NATO, where the EU can only serve ancillary functions.

Julian Lindley French, a researcher and chairman of the Alfen Group, also emphasizes the lack of political will in the major defense spending countries of the Union, such as France, Germany and Italy. While these countries do not feel the imminent threat from Russia in their own countries, they have different behavioral policies. France is known to be the most active supporter of Europe’s autonomy on security issues, and Germany consistently relies on partnerships within NATO.

As Elisabeth Braw, a senior researcher at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), points out, security issues in Europe overestimate the expectations of politicians and analysts.

The problem with “Europe’s defense” is that expectations are always too high, by politicians and analysts. It’s (yet) an illusion to think that somehow these features can be pooled in a way that complements NATO. The more we talk about “defense of Europe”, the more we set our often impressive national efforts to look like a failure.

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