EU MONITOR: Czech Perception of the EU Defence Policy
In his latest EU monitor, Vít Havelka explores EU Defence Policy from Czech point of view.
On May 28th 2017, the German Chancellor surprised the world with a statement calling on Europe to ‘take its fate into own hand’, adding “the era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent”. Pundits perceived her speech as a landmark change in a long-term European defence paradigm. Since the end of the WWII, the European security depended on the United States, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American defence shield was further broadened to former soviet satellites in Central Europe. However, the last years were marked by a growing rift between the EU and the US.
The departure of the UK from the European Union underlined the crisis of European defence structures as the EU would lose a member state with the strongest European army, a seat in Security Council, and large part of its nuclear arsenal. As a result, the European leaders gathered shortly after the Brexit vote in Bratislava and decided they would launch PESCO, a voluntary defence cooperation on project basis. The aim was not only to renew the integrational process after the Brexit blow, but also to strengthen European defence research and provide the EU with missing hard power.
Firstly, Czechs lack any deeper knowledge of how the EU works, what policies it conducts and how the Czech representatives can influence the EU decision making. Simultaneously, qualified debate about important EU issues is missing in the public discourse, being usually limited to minor and sensationalist issues such as regulation of food names within the single market (e.g. what can be called “butter”), ban on single use plastics or limiting the engine strength in vacuum cleaners. This results in a general feeling that the EU focuses on unimportant dossiers or that it lacks the ability to solve grand challenges such as migration, terrorism and border protection, which are being securitized.
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