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The Summit of Our Ambition? European Defense between Brussels and Wales

The Summit of Our Ambition? European Defense between Brussels and Wales

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This policy brief assesses the current and future capabilities for NATO and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.
This policy brief assesses the current and future capabilities for NATO and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.

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Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Jun 13, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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This article assesses the current and future capa-bilities for NATO and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Based on a review of recent evolution in European defense mechanisms, the author argues that a common European strategy integrating both institu-tions would be ideal. As such, the upcoming Wales Summit is the next important step in the  journey to achieve a coherent European defense.
Transatlantic Security Task Force Series
Policy Brie 
 The Summit of Our Ambition? European Defense between Brussels and Wales
by Sven Biscop
German Marshall Fund o the United States-Paris 71 Boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris : +33 1 47 23 47 18 E: inoparis@gmus.org
June 2014
When they meet at NAO’s Wales Summit in Newport on September 4-5, the European heads o state and government should not see this as the first chapter o a new book, but as the next chapter o an existing one called “European deense.” Te previous chapter was their meeting in Brus-sels last December or the European Council. Te European Council made impor-tant decisions on deense at its December 2013 meeting and will address deense again in June 2015. Te deadline or many o the tasks it entrusted to the European Deence Agency (EDA) and the Commission alls at the end o 2014, hence the state o play ought to have advanced considerably by the time o the NAO Summit. For the European heads o state and government, thereore, NAO’s Wales Summit is not so much a story in its own right as another episode in the overall story o Euro-pean deense. It will be a platorm to address the implications o their December 2013 decisions or the Alliance as a whole, and an opportu-nity to go beyond the organizational divide and to assess “the state o deense in Europe.” Tus it is just as President o the European Council Herman Van Rompuy envisaged it in his speech at the 2013 annual coner-ence o the EDA. And as he said at the previous summit, in Chicago, he should be the EU voice in Newport.Te recent priorities and achieve-ments (or, in certain areas, the lack thereo) o the EU’s Common Secu-rity and Deence Policy (CSDP) and NAO demonstrate in act that only the combination o the CSDP and NAO can constitute a comprehen-sive European deense. Neither NAO nor the CSDP alone have been able to generate all the structures, unctions, and capabilities that a credible Euro-pean ull-spectrum orce requires. Now, however, true complementarity is emerging. Increasingly thereore, the CSDP and the European pillar o the Alliance have to be regarded as a single capacity.
European Capabilities for Europe’s Forces
More than two years aer the EU launched Pooling & Sharing and NAO launched its Smart Deence initiative, progress has finally been seen. Te European Council was able to welcome multinational programs that should produce additional Euro-pean capability in key enabling areas: drones, air-to-air reueling, satellite communication, and cybersecurity. In contrast, Smart Deence has resulted
Transatlantic Security Task Force Series
Policy Brief
in various useul initiatives mostly aimed at improving the efficiency o existing capabilities and training, but not in any major new project.Tat ought not to have come as a surprise, or NAO was always centered on common deense planning and never really on common capability development. Te NAO Deence Planning Process (NDPP) predominantly sets targets or the individual nations, which traditionally were met (or at least planned or) through national efforts. Occa-sionally, common capability projects took off because they (also) filled a U.S. need and thereore the United States was willing to pay or much o the attached research and devel-opment bill. Washington could put pressure on the Euro-pean allies to contribute their share through procurement (the F16 program was a good example) and sometimes even a pooled capability (the C17-equipped Strategic Airli Capability, or example). Even so, the Europeans usually drag their eet, as the Missile Deense (MD) and Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programs show. Te continued decline o deense budgets in most European countries has not helped, o course. oday the problem is clearly a Euro-pean one: the lack o strategic enablers or expeditionary operations. Hence, the United States is not willing to pay or the solution, and nor should it be.Te European Allies have to sit together, set priorities, and act. Unortunately, such a European caucus is exactly what the United States has always sought to prevent in NAO. No wonder, then, that it has always proved more convenient (easier would be an overstatement) to find the beginning o a solution to a European capability problem in a European context. In 1968 already, 12 European allies created the Eurogroup or that purpose, ollowed in 1976 by the 13-member Independent European Programme Group (IEPG). Aer the signing o the Maastricht reaty, both transerred their unctions to the Western Euro-pean Armaments Group (WEAG) under the aegis o the Western European Union (WEU). oday the CSDP is the only European orum able to address European strategic shortalls.But whether NAO or the EU is chosen as the institutional  venue is not important, because these are the same Euro-pean countries anyway. In view o the less than brilliant history o the Eurogroup, IEPG, and WEAG, what counts is that today the actions o the Europeans, not just their words, demonstrate their conviction that only common capability development can solve Europes shortalls in the area o enablers.Trough the CSDP, European countries ought to go ull-out now or the implementation o the our multinational programs that have been announced (not orgetting that the December 2011 Foreign Affairs Council prioritized eight more areas). Tat means more countries have to contribute more ully. Capitals should be aware that it is entirely up to them whether Van Rompuy will be able to announce real progress in implementing the December decisions by the time o the Wales Summit. Te EDA has a vital supporting role to play, as has the European Commission, which the December 2013 European Council consecrated as a key player in European deense. European countries would do well to make creative use o any contri-bution the Commission can bring, or it is a powerhouse without equal in the CSDP or NAO.NAO, or its part, can quietly shelve Smart Deence, which was only created aer the EU launched Pooling and Sharing anyway. Tis was hopeully the last instance o the beauty contest that led each organization to begrudge the other its moment in the spotlight. Te new priority that the Alliance already announced is actually not new at all, but it is exactly right: the Connected Forces Initia-tive (CFI). Interoperability between European orces and between them and the other Allied orces requires an intense schedule o exercises and maneuvers that only the NAO command structure can provide. When troops are not in operations they train but i the Alliance, or public diplomacy reasons, want to give this a name and a logo — CFI — why not? More questionable perhaps is the uture o Allied Command ransormation (AC). I the Europeans now do as they say, what role remains or AC that justifies maintaining such a large structure across the Atlantic?Here the first dimension o the emerging complemen-tarity can be discerned. Common capability develop-ment is a European necessity best addressed through the
Today the problem is clearly a European one: the lack of strategic enablers for expeditionary operations.
Transatlantic Security Task Force Series
Policy Brief
CSDP. Exercises and maneuvers or both Article 5 and non-Article 5 purposes are a NAO-wide necessity best addressed through the Alliance. In Newport, the heads o state and government can welcome the EU initiative on the ormer and endorse the CFI on the latter.
European Defence Planning within the NDPP
Accepting that European strategic enablers can only be acquired collectively, the European Council stated the need or “increased transparency and inormation sharing in deense planning, allowing national planners and decision-makers to consider greater convergence o capability needs and timelines.” Furthermore, European countries should not only contribute to the big European programs on enablers, but are also encouraged to continue pooling and sharing o capabilities within the smaller regional clusters in order to maintain significant deployable capability in all orces. Tis is likely to lead to many more permanently coordinated, or even integrated, multinational capabilities, such as European Air ransport Command or Admiral Benelux.Te latter example, the integration o the Belgian and Dutch navies, has gone so ar that, de acto, these countries can no longer do national naval planning, or any deci-sion has an impact on their cooperation, which neither can afford to end. In reality, they can only plan together. In other words, the Framework Nation Concept proposed by Germany and now under discussion in NAO — in which a group o countries would de acto consider their combined capabilities in certain areas as one orce and do common planning — is already happening. It is the logical outcome o ever closer cooperation. And it need not necessarily happen between one larger country with ull spectrum orces and smaller countries that plug into those orces. It is equally possible between countries o similar size, as the Belgo-Dutch example proves. It is also, by the way, what Permanent Structured Cooperation as made possible under the Lisbon reaty would have led to, had it been implemented.Whatever constellation they choose, one thing is sure: European allies will increasingly meet many o the targets set through the NDPP through cooperation among Euro-peans, including o course with non-NAO EU member states. Such European cooperation is best coordinated in a European context.Tereore, the European Council’s tasking to the EDA, “to put orward an appropriate policy ramework by the end o 2014, in ull coherence with existing NAO planning processes,” is doubly important. On one hand, systematic transparency about plans and intentions between indi- vidual and clusters o European nations must ensure that no opportunities or cooperation are missed, and that such cooperation addresses all capability shortalls without creating new redundancies. On the other hand, the collec-tive plans and programs that result rom it can be taken into account by the NDPP, introducing a European level (including all EU member states, whether they be NAO allies or partners) between national deense planning and the ambition o the Alliance as a whole. Te aim is not, obviously, to create an “EUDPP” parallel to the NDPP. Simply, all countries can systematically share all the data with the EDA that they compile or the NDPP anyway, plus their long-term plans and intentions, both national and in cooperation with other European countries.While the EDA does not need to deliver on this tasking until the end o 2014, the Wales Summit could already endorse the principle o a “policy ramework” elaborated through the CSDP and incorporated into the NDPP. Tus planning as well as complementarity could emerge, with NAO in charge o the Alliance and national levels o the NDPP, and the CSDP o the European level.
European Strategy for NATO and the CSDP
Ideally, the introduction o a European level into the NDPP would result in an iterative process. Te objective is not only or NAO to be able to integrate into the NDPP those parts o the targets to be met collectively by Europeans, either through large-scale European programs or through regional clusters, instead o by nations individually. Euro-peans should also aim to shape the NDPP targets them-selves, by identiying the level o ambition o the European pillar o NAO/the CSDP as a security provider.
European allies will increasingly meet many of the targets set through the NDPP through cooperation among Europeans.

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