Europäische Sicherheitsinteressen und Fähigkeiten: Rede von Karl von Wogau auf der Defendory in Athen

Die Rede liegt derzeit nur auf Englisch vor.

The European Security and Defence Policy is developing rapidly. In 1999, the heads of State and Government decided in Helsinki to establish an armed force of up to 60 000 soldiers for autonomous missions of the European Union.

Since then, soldiers under European command have run missions in the former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad and civilian missions in many parts of the world.

To make this possible, a European structure of decision making, command and control has been established in Brussels including the Political and Security Committee, the Military Committee and the Military Staff.

The European Parliament has created a subcommittee for Security and Defence in order to assure parliamentary scrutiny in close cooperation with the Parliaments of the Member States.

Council has decided to create the European Defence Agency. In addition to this, the Battle Groups have been established which are at the disposal of the Union for half a year.

Capabilities and deficits

We are now discussing about the capabilities which are necessary for these missions. Whenever I come to Athens, I try to visit Cape Sounion because I think it is one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

But apart from offering one of the most beautiful views of our continent, Cape Sounion and the Myth of Theseus and King Aegeus can tell us something about the importance and the handling of capabilities.

The key capabilities I have in mind are navigation and telecommunication. Their importance for any enterprise of armed forces has not changed over the centuries.

Having killed the Minotaurus, Theseus only survived because he disposed of an intelligent system of navigation - the thread of Ariadne which was the ancient equivalent of our Galileo.

The tragic part of the story - King Aegeus throwing himself from the cliff of Cape Sounion into the sea - was due to a breakdown of Telecommunications. The system was perfect. It was agreed that the fleet would set white sails if Theseus and the hostages were alive. But Theseus had forgotten about it. So the King thought that they were dead. We should not forget that even the most perfect system is subject to the human factor.

If we want to define the capabilities Europe needs today, we have to start from the Security Strategy of the European Union which has established a broad definition of security. This does not only cover situations which require the intervention of armed forces, but also the protection of the outside borders of the European Union, the protection of critical infrastructures, disaster management and the security of energy supply.

At the same time, experience shows that the capability needs are often technologically very similar or even the same for operations of armed forces, border surveillance, protection of critical infrastructures and disaster management. This creates new opportunities to exploit synergies and enhance the interoperability between armed forces and security forces.

The Union should therefore focus its efforts on common capabilities which can be used for both defence and security purposes. In this context, satellite based intelligence, unmanned air vehicles, helicopters and telecommunication equipment as well as air and sea transport are crucial. A common technical standard for protected telecommunications and means for the protection of critical infrastructures are equally important.

What did the European Union do?

First of all, the Union has put into place the European Defence Agency which has the task of generating convergence between the member states in the field of military equipment.

Second, the European Commission has proposed a Defence Package including legislation on defence procurement. This is a very important step in order to establish a European Internal Market for Security and Defence.

This package is being deliberated in the European Parliament and Council. They co-decide about this legislation. The most controversial question is about European Preference. I personally think that a request for reciprocity with third countries should be part of this legislation.

Finally, Research and Development for Security is financed from the Budget of the European Union. 1.4 Billion over 7 years are provided for Security Research and 1 Billion for Kopernikus (GMES) which has security applications. 3.4 Billion are provided for Galileo.

The European Parliament has recently voted with a large majority in favour of the availability of Galileo for European Security and Defence Missions.

Defining Europe's Security Interests

Up until now, Member States define their security interests on a purely national basis. The notion of "European security interest", by contrast, is politically still taboo.

This taboo is no longer acceptable. Ever growing political, economic, social and cultural ties between Member States, on the one hand, and the challenges of globalisation with its transnational threats on the other, make the concept of purely national security interests in Europe more and more obsolete.

It is therefore both possible and necessary to define together the Union's common security interests. Such interests could be: security of our neighbourhood, protection of external borders and critical infrastructures, secure energy supply, trade routes etc.

At this time, I am setting up a European Security Foundation. One of its first tasks is to contribute to a common definition of our interests, our ambitions and the capabilities we have to acquire.

Only if we develop a clear idea of our common interests can we make our common policies more coherent and effective. It is therefore high time to have an open debate on what the Union's common security interests really are.