In his opening remarks to the session on “CSDP and Implementation of the EU Global Strategy” of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy, 15-17 February 2018, Sofia, the author outlines three key issues: The necessary cooperation, and on some matters – close coordination, between the European Union and NATO on defence matters; the need to maintain cohesion and the popular support for the European defence across EU, which requires proportionate and balanced contribution by and inclusion of all member states; and, given the proliferation of roles and missions of the armed forces, the need to remember what constitutes the core of the military profession and making sure that the ethos of the military is preserved.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to address the distinguished members of the European Parliament and national parliaments.
In my short introduction I will raise three points, which in my view are of key importance for the development of the European defence:
1. Need for cooperation, and on some matters – close coordination, between the European Union and NATO on defence matters;
2. The need to maintain cohesion and the popular support for the European defence across EU, which requires proportionate and balanced contribution by and inclusion of all member states;
3. In the proliferation of roles and missions of the armed forces, we need to remember what constitutes the core of the military profession and make sure that the ethos of the military is preserved.
On the first point: In the short time since signing the Joint Declaration in July 2016, defence and security cooperation between the European Union and NATO is both widening and deepening. This is important in guaranteeing interoperability, developing complementary capabilities, and avoiding duplication.
In the process, the transatlantic link in this cooperation and the role of NATO remain indispensable in guaranteeing defence of the European continent, the territorial integrity of European states, and in deterring any potential aggressor.
To guarantee effective and efficient cooperation between EU and NATO in the future, we need to coordinate defence planning and review procedures – both bureaucratically, i.e. to guarantee compatibility of method, concepts, terminology, and timeframes, and to facilitate cooperation in various domains in terms of roles, levels of ambition and capabilities developed in the frameworks of the EU and NATO.
Second, the drive towards more Europe in defence, as far as I am aware, enjoys broad popular support. We need to make sure that this support is maintained and the cohesion among member states is preserved. To a large extent this will depend on how well each member state finds its place in EU defence developments.
Key in this respect are the contributions of member states to:
· EU operations and missions;
· deployable forces in high readiness (i.e. in the EU battle groups as they evolve);
· multinational military formations, and the development of capabilities more generally,
· research and technology development,
· the defence industrial component, and, last but not least,
· defence expenditures.
A process needs to be put in place which provides transparency of involvement and contributions of each members state.
The European Parliament is in a position to provide such transparency. I would recommend that the European Parliament establishes a process of regular, e.g. annual, review of the participation and contribution of member states and, if it is found that one or more of the member states does not contribute to or is excluded from a certain component of European defence, the EP may seek to adapt policies and encourage a balanced and equitable contribution by each member state.
I will conclude by briefly examining the third issue – the preservation of the ethos of the armed forces in a time of diversifying roles and fuzzier boundaries.
Over time, armed forces of EU member states have been tasked to perform ever expanding roles. To disaster response and border control, recently we witnessed the addition of counter terrorism operations at home, operations during mass disorders, roles in providing cybersecurity of critical infrastructures, and ‘hybrid warfare’ roles such as counter propaganda and strategic communication.
The rationale for such involvement is easy to understand. I will not question it. I would however caution that continuous reliance on the military in the performance of such roles may have a negative impact both on law enforcement and other non-military capacities, and on the military itself.
We should not forget that the core military expertise is the exercise and/or management of violence, in an environment characterised by high degree of risk for the life of soldiers, sailors and airmen. To preserve the ethos of the armed forces, it is important to maintain the cohesion of the military and not to forget that its primary role is to fight and win wars.
In this respect, my recommendation is more towards national parliaments – do not forget this primary role of the military in discussing new roles, recruitment and career models, budget allocation, etc.
Thank you for your attention! I look forward to your questions and the discussion.