Common security and defence policy failing to reach its potential

The EU's security environment has undergone dramatic changes in recent years and is as unstable as ever, and the CSDP must be updated to reflect this, say MEPs.
Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR) is parliament's rapporteur on the implementation of the common security and defence policy

In the 16 years since the launch of the common security and defence policy (CSDP), Europe has never been confronted by so many crises at once along our borders and within our territory. There are many different security threats, both internal and external.

Given this dramatic evolution, the EU and its member states have a twofold duty to act - they must act to protect themselves, and also to reduce the instability in today's environment. 

Yet there are very few current crises and conflicts in which Europe - collectively or individually through the member states - plays a truly decisive role that is on par with its interests, values and diplomatic, economic and military weight.


Therefore, CSDP could be and in fact, should be, a key tool to enable Europe to finally take responsibility for its security and that of its neighbourhood.

The annual CSDP report is set against this background and ahead of the meeting of EU heads of state 25-26 June, where security and defence issues will be discussed.

The report's starting point is a feeling of dissatisfaction, insufficiency and urgency, and it aims to take stock of where we are at in terms of the CSDP's three components - operational, capacity and industry - and introduce a number of proposals to improve these aspects.

The report highlights the need to set up a number of mechanisms that have been made available by the Lisbon treaty but are not yet being used, such as enhanced cooperation, permanent structured cooperation, operational flexibility, and mechanisms for finance and solidarity and mutual assistance.

The annual report on implementation of the CSDP is particularly important, as it sums up the efforts made in the past 18 months ahead of the June council meeting, which will have a single goal - to make the CSDP more efficient.

Tonino Picula (HR) is parliament's S&D group shadow rapporteur on the implementation of the common security and defence policy

The CSDP report aims to assess the overall security context, which unfortunately is unstable, due to the large number of long-standing and newly emerging security challenges.

Therefore, the EU should focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its current crisis management instruments, with a view of establishing capacities to broaden the spectrum of crisis management interventions.

The report also looks to evaluate the situation of the current CSDP missions, and to clarify if the CSDP is a real priority, suggesting concrete measures to make it more efficient. 

The report calls on the member states to show more willingness to participate in EU military operations, and in contributing resources and capabilities they possess for such involvements accordingly.

It also serves to assess the situation in terms of capabilities within the EU defence industry. Europe needs more sustainable, innovative and competitive defence technology that will foster job creation in the sector, contribute to innovation and result in economic growth.

Overall, I believe we have ended up with a very comprehensive and well-structured report on a subject that has often posed more questions than it answered. 


Geoffrey Van Orden (UK) is parliament's ECR group shadow rapporteur on the implementation of the common security and defence policy

The Arnaud Danjean report on the CSDP reveals the inherent contradictions in the EU's regrettable efforts to involve itself in defence matters. 

On the one hand, it repeats the obligatory mantras to enhance the 'strategic autonomy' of the EU and to 'boost development' of the CSDP. 

On the other, it expresses dismay that CSDP operations are inefficient, under-resourced, more concerned with appearance than results, and often irrelevant. 

At the same time, there is recognition of the key role of Nato, the need for our nations to commit to higher defence spending and the emergence of hybrid and cyber-attacks as new threats.

The conclusions from this are inescapable. Instead of spending time, effort and precious resources in creating a separate EU military structure - which only encourages the likes of Russian president Vladimir Putin in his desire to split the strategic alliance of North American and European democracies, gives the impression of disarray, and squanders resources - there should be a single-minded commitment to the revitalisation of Nato.


Jozo Radoš (HR) is parliament's ALDE group shadow rapporteur on the implementation of the common security and defence policy

Arnaud Danjean's report sends a clear message about the current state of the CSDP, as well as a warning. One of the most worrying issues is the fact that encouraging policy goals that were agreed upon during the December 2013 council meeting were not followed by concrete steps in the implementation of the CSDP.

The text stresses that the majority of civilian and military operations under the EU flag suffer from considerable structural shortfalls, and current EU military operations only involve six member states - evidently, there is a significant lack of interest among EU countries.

This sentiment was somewhat echoed in the council conclusions from 18 May, though in a milder form. It was reiterated for example, that the security environment has changed dramatically in recent years, which calls for a stronger and more effective CSDP.

The timing and importance of this review were also highlighted.

To illustrate the failures of the CSDP so far, I would like to recall the defence spending benchmarks that were endorsed by the European defence agency in 2007 - also mentioned in the council conclusions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of the spending benchmarks regarding procurement and research were met, nor were total or common expenditures. 

Instead, in recent years, all types of spending have decreased - this is truly disappointing, especially bearing in mind that it should be much easier to standardise equipment, produce or procure it, and introduce common research and development, than to integrate military forces and establish joint military command.

Bearing in mind statements on the deteriorated European security environment, the need for a strategic review and that next month's council meeting will take the form of a panel discussion, a firm base for a new, stronger, and more effective European common foreign, security and defence policy - which we all need - will likely not happen until a November 2016 council meeting.