EU lagging behind in military ambition


Indecision over what type of EU military forces would fight in what type of conflict is hampering the EU’s ambition for “strategic autonomy”, according to an internal document.

“The EU’s level of military ambition (Mil LoA) is not achievable at this time” and there have been “no new … products” in terms of the “main” military objectives of the EU. ‘EU over the past year, according to a progress report. on the development of the EU’s military capabilities ”, seen by EUobserver.

“The potential to undermine the achievement of the EU … Mil LoA remains high,” he added.

Covid had slowed progress, according to the report, written by military attachés in the EU’s foreign service, and dated October 14.

But the lack of clarity on fundamental issues was also holding things back, the report notes.

These included the kind of assets that member states could use to create a ‘full spectrum set of forces’.

The military attachés suggested “these MS [member states] who are also NATO members, consider declaring the same pool of capabilities potentially available in both frameworks ”.

Engagement in real “operations” was “the centerpiece” of a common EU capability, and states wishing to participate should “make their strategically deployable formations available in the same way they do. for NATO, ”according to the report.

Another question was what would a common EU force do?

Looking ahead to the ‘Strategic Compass (SC)’, an EU policy document to be adopted next year, the report states: ‘It is of paramount importance to have a clear identification of the number and types of IS [illustrative scenarios] the EU is ready to face it “.

“The paramount achievement of the SC (…) is to clarify to which aspects and in which types of scenarios the army is supposed to contribute”, adds the report.

And still more questions were about who would foot the bill.

The EU needed a “definition of the principle of ‘fair sharing’, concerning (…) contributions to the respective operational aspects” of future military missions, according to the report.

The document cites several talks between the EU and NATO on the subject, indicating a high level of cooperation.

Meanwhile, a separate report, dated October 12, and also viewed by this website, took stock of an EU military exercise called EU Integrated Resolve 2020.

This was about “how to deal with a crisis affecting EU assets abroad, such as a military operation and a civilian mission deployed in a fictitious country”.

And the October 12 report noted that the EU institutions have done a good job in ordering the fictitious assets deployed.

He noted that, “for the first time” an EU HQ, the “Planning and Military Conduct Capability” of the EU Foreign Service in Brussels, “has been exercised not only in planning but also in the conduct of [the] … surgery”.

But he said that “future exercises should also include a greater role for the [EU] political decision-making level, more specifically the PSC ”, in reference to the Political and Security Committee, where the ambassadors of the EU states meet.


The idea of ​​strategic EU autonomy became fashionable after the US and UK recently turned their backs on Europe in a landmark naval deal with Australia .

Some staunch allies of the United States in Europe, like Poland, are reluctant to rely more on France and Germany than on America to protect them from Russia.

But for one commentator, Jamie Shea, a former senior NATO official, there was little to fear.

“All EU member states agree that NATO is the organization that guarantees collective defense vis-à-vis Russia due to the vital contribution of the United States. So here we are talking about the development of a capacity for the EU to act in regional crises and conflicts where the US is not engaged or when EU Member States have specific interests to defend, ”he told EUobserver.

EU states had previously fought together in “coalitions of the willing” in Iraq and the Sahel, he noted, while an EU anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden , called ‘Atalanta’, had been ‘very successful’, he noted, now working for UK think tank Chatham House, added.

The main challenges for the EU were to get Germany to “considerably modernize its armed forces and to be more willing and able to deploy more of them outside Europe, especially in Africa” ​​and to France. “Persuade the EU states of Eastern Europe” of the self-interest interest.

For its part, Russia and its EU envoy, Vladimir Chizhov, have also expressed their support for the EU’s military independence from the United States.

“The Russian ambassador, who has been in Brussels long enough to know the EU well, clearly hopes that European strategic autonomy will be weak enough to prevent the EU from becoming a significant military power on the world stage, but sufficiently strong to alienate in the United States, ”Shea said.

“This is precisely the situation that Europeans have every interest in avoiding,” he added.

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