Our Brussels Office Intern Emiel Dijkman focuses in his blog on the prospects of the European Defence Union and possible areas of European cooperation in terms of defence and security.
On March 6th, the joint meeting of foreign affairs and defence ministers came to an agreement on a Military Planning and Conduct Capability which will coordinate three training missions in Somalia, Mali and the DRC. These three missions are quite small and mostly serve as a test phase for the new institution. Next year, the coordination might be expanded to other missions like the Sophia mission against human traffickers in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the joint meeting discussed the possibility of using the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), a cooperation structure that was established by the treaty of Lisbon. PESCO was envisaged to enable some of the member states to cooperate more closely on a voluntary basis, but so far has not been used.
The meeting also further explored the possibility of the use of Coordinated Annual Revue on Defence (CARD), which aims to streamline budgetary cooperation between member states. Federica Mogherini stated that “The global environment invites us to take more responsibility and the way to take more responsibility in defence and security is through the European Union.”
However, a deeper kind of cooperation would be a more ambitious and expensive project. It remains to be seen whether the national leaders will be able to garner the political and financial support for such a project, when already now almost none of the NATO member states fulfil the budget goal of 2 percent of GDP.
In the short term, more cooperation might streamline some efforts and increase efficiency, but it would likely also create problems. For instance, what happens when soldiers under the European flag are wounded or killed because of a mistake from a commander under orders from the European Commission? The public outrage will likely be directed at the EU, possibly causing another crisis to deal with and diminishing the argument that the EU brings peace.