Thursday, November 20, 2014

@ALDEParty Congress resolutions 2014 - Improving European defence cooperation

This is the first of six foreign and security policy resolutions, which may end up being coalesced into one final document, brought to you by two governing parties, Democraten 66 (the Netherlands) and Open VLD (Belgium)...

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party convening in Lisbon, Portugal on 20-22 November 2014:

Notes that
  • recent turmoil in the Ukraine and Russian expansionism have shown that the EU’s capacity to defend its territory still is, and will remain, crucial for its safety and well-being;
  • in light of recent events, member states are increasingly prepared to increase national defence budgets and no longer rely on peace dividend alone;
  • the European Union’s response to the different crises in its Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood and beyond was in many cases inadequate and did not allow the European Union to play a pivotal role in international affairs;
  • the efficiency of defence spending in the EU is seriously hampered by the fragmentation between the 28 Member States;

Referring to
  • the External Security and Defence Policy of the European Union, aiming to strengthen the EU's external ability to act through the development of civilian and military capabilities in Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management;
  • the European Parliament Report on the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy of October 2013 which stressed “that the EU needs to establish a new and credible foreign policy in response to the current challenges in the world”;
  • the declaration of European leaders in the wake of the recent NATO Summit in Wales in which they pledged to increase military spending to 2% of gross domestic product over the next 10 years;

Believes that
  • a window of opportunity has arisen in which European defence can be markedly strengthened due to financial commitment of Member States;
  • the EU can only fully contribute to a peaceful and stable world order if its foreign policy is strengthened by a credible military force;
  • a comprehensive European approach to promoting peace and security should be based on conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict institution building;
  • peace enforcement operations with a UN Security Council mandate are part of Europe’s External Security and Defence Policy;
  • due to the budgetary constraints and geopolitical threats, enhanced defence cooperation in Europe has become a necessity rather than a choice;
  • the pooling of military capabilities at the EU level would allow to both increase the efficiency of European defence and bring about savings to the national budgets by exploiting the effects of economy of scale;
  • more European coordination is needed to make sure that an increase in defence spending by a Member State has a maximal impact on the European defence capacity;

Calls on
  • the new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to present in the first year of her mandate a comprehensive and ambitious agenda on advanced EU defence cooperation, with the aim to establish a credible European defence capacity within the next five years, including:
  • the establishment of one single military planning capacity and one single operational headquarters in the EU;
  • a much stronger coordination of the defence procurement policy of Member States;
  • enhanced cooperation in military education and training;
  • investment in force multipliers to quickly improve Europe’s deployment capacity at longer distances;
  • pooling and sharing of critical military assets based on the principle of burden and risk sharing between the Member States.

Frankly, I can't see the Liberal Democrats being wildly keen on this. A single military planning capacity seems like a step towards the coalescing of our armed forces into a European command, and given Europe's inability to take a firm, agreed stance on key aspects of foreign and security policy, I'm not sure that the time is ripe for such a move, if it ever will be.

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