Karl von Wogau: Rede auf der European Security Conference

Since the end of the Cold War, the threats to which Europe is exposed have fundamentally changed. Javier Solana has described these threats in the European Security Strategy which has been decided by the Heads of State and Government in December 2003.

We have today an ongoing discussion if the analysis of four years ago is still valid or if a new and adapted Security Strategy should be formulated.

I think that the main challenge we face is not to rewrite the European Security Strategy but to implement what we have already agreed.

The most important threats to our security which have been defined in 2003 remain the same:

  • Terrorism. The events in London and Madrid and several faulted attempts show that this danger has not diminished
  • Weapons of mass destruction. The proliferation of these weapons goes on and
  • Regional conflicts. The conflicts in Africa, the tensions in the Balkans and the protracted conflicts in the middle east all remain to be solved

Problems of the supply of energy and water remain on the agenda and are even more urgent than four years ago.

Therefore the basic principles of the Security Strategy remain valid:

  • Multilateralism. A world order which should be based around the Charter of the United Nations
  • A broad definition of Security that includes threats from terrorism to natural disasters
  • A flexible civil-miliary approach to crisis management which has been reinforced with the creation of the civil – military cell
  • The statements about possibilities and limits of preventive action

This list shows that there are more factors uniting than dividing us. Europe, as said above, faces common threats.

And, the most important point, Europe shares a common set of European values. Europe stands for a security policy which is based on values, is not restricted to the military, is dedicated to the respect and further development of international law and acts multilaterally.

But we also have to define the legitimate interest of the European Union and its citizens as for example the security of energy supply and stability in its immediate neighbourhood.

President Sarkozy has announced proposals for the further development of the European Security and Defence Policy. The Government of Spain has taken an initiative that goes into the same direction.

I think that these initiatives should be taken up in the form of a European White Book that focuses upon the implementation and further development of the European Security Strategy.

What has to be done?

If you look at the agenda of this conference you will find most of the subjects which should be treated in this White book.

My message, however, is that we need to apply two guiding principles in what needs to be done to successfully implement the European Security Strategy.

  • The first is Unity of Command.
  • The second is Unity of Effort.
  • Let us begin with our capabilities to manage regional conflicts. We have sent troops under command of the European Union to Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Congo and we now plan to send a military mission to Chad.

    If we send troops into those and possibly into more dangerous missions, we have a responsibility to make sure that two things correspond to the necessities

    • The unified chain of command and
    • Interoperability of equipment, armament and training of the soldiers

    As far as the chain of command is concerned, we dispose of a large number of possibilities. Berlin plus and five national headquarters for multilateral operations. This is more than duplication. We should better call it quintuplication plus.

    I think that the time is ripe to call for a common European Headquarter.

    The other responsibility of Politics is to ensure that our soldiers who are sent on European missions dispose of adequate equipment.

    Parliaments must also ensure that taxpayer's money which is available for defence is properly spent.

    If one adds the defence spending of the 27 member states one arrives at the sum of 170 billion per year. This is about one third of what the United States spends, but all the same – 170 billion per year is a very considerable sum – more than the total budget of the European Union.

    The 27 member states dispose of two million soldiers – more than the United States which has 1.2 million. The 27 member states have 10 000 battle tanks and 3 000 combat aircraft.

    This sounds like an impressive armada. But recently we have seen that it was almost impossible to send an additional battalion to protect the refugee camps in Chad.

    This European inefficiency is partly due to the fact that we do not have a common European defence equipment market. This leads to much unnecessary duplication of procurement programs.

    Where are our main capability gaps?

    For military missions under European command as well as for humanitarian missions, natural disasters, and the surveillance of our outside borders we have a common need for real time pictures, independent from weather and day time.

    But we have three parallel national systems of satellite based intelligence: Helios, SAR-Lupe and Cosmo Skymed – but the images from these systems have not been available to our common satellite centre in Torrejón.

    It is imperative that the next generation of these systems is a common European one.

    The same duplications exist in the field of command and control. What is needed is a common basic standard for the communications systems of military, police and disaster relief services.

    At present, we have five national telecommunications systems for running multinational operations.

    A common system would be less costly, more efficient and less risky for the personnel running these operations.

    I only mention that there are twenty three parallel programmes for armoured vehicles, three parallel programmes for combat aircraft and 89 major European weapons programmes in comparison to only 27 in the United States.

    Unnecessary cost is also caused by the fact that the borders between the member states which have been abolished in 1992 still exist in the field of defence.

    The total yearly cost of intra-community transfer was estimated of 3.16 billion Euros for 2003 including structural and procedural costs for industry and administration.

    We also have to consider that multinational operations like Congo and Chad become more costly because we have different equipment requiring parallel chains of supply.

    For all types of missions it is imperative that the chain of command and the provision of equipment are both adequate and efficient. If such recommendations are not fulfilled soldiers are exposed to unnecessary dangers.

    The use of different and often incompatible equipment in multinational operations lowers efficiency and raises costs.

    We therefore need rules for more efficiency in defence procurement and intra-community transfers. We also need binding common rules for arms exports.

    We are therefore looking forward to see the corresponding proposals of the Commission and hope that they will be available before the end of this year.

    We are also very closely looking at the significance of Space for our Security and I have started to work on a report concerning this subject for the European Parliament.

    Autonomous access to space has become an indispensable element of sovereignty- and it can only be ensured by close European cooperation.

    Satellite – based observation, navigation and telecommunication are necessary not only for military missions, but also for the observation of our outside borders and critical infrastructures and for the management of natural disasters.

    We therefore think that projects like Galileo and GMES have very important Security roles and that they are of the highest importance for our future security

    Our ability to meet the security challenges of the 21st century will depend in a large measure on our ability to manage big common projects like Galileo and on our ability to spend taxpayer's money together and to spend it better.

    We have also problems in the field of strategic planning and decision-making. There are critical questions which are of high importance for the security of Europe and which have to be addressed in a proper way.

    That is for example the case with missile defence.

    We have an ongoing discussion about the missile defence installations which are foreseen by our American allies in Poland and the Czech Republic

    Members of our Defence Subcommittee have had good discussions about this matter with the Ambassador of the United States, the State Department, Mrs. Tauscher and Gen. Obering.

    It became clear that these installations are part of a system on which our allies have already spent about 100 billion and continue to spend about ten billion a year.

    It is a system for the protection of the United States but it could also protect a large part of the European Union.

    However, some of the territories of the European Union in the South and the East would remain unprotected. This would lead to areas of different degrees of security in the European Union

    But Europe needs a missile defence shield which protects the whole territory of the European Union.

    We are therefore looking forward to the results of the deliberations which are taking place in Nato on this matter in preparation for the summit in Bucharest next spring.

    We must consider in these discussions that Europe is much closer to possible threats than America.

    But until now the Europeans do not have a common strategic concept which takes into account the specific situation of our continent.

    We should find a common position on this question. We should avoid a situation in which we could be blackmailed by rogue states.

    The European Union has the competence and the necessary resources to take part in such a system. The command and control arrangements would have to reflect the specific European security interests.

    Close cooperation between NATO and the European Union is of the utmost importance, not only in the area of missile defence, but for our common security in general.

    The European Union is committed to the transatlantic relationship.

    As underlined in the European Security Strategy, this relationship is irreplaceable.

    Acting together, the EU and the US can be a formidable force for security in the world. The European Union's aim is an effective and balanced partnership with the US.

    I'm preoccupied about the present state of the relationship between the European Union and NATO.

    The political high-level contacts at the top are good, but I have the impression that the relationship and the cooperation at the practical level are constantly torpedoed by one single NATO member state (Turkey).

    We have to find a solution which ensures that political decisions can be jointly implemented.

    As you can see, a lot of challenges remain.

    I am, however, convinced that we will succeed if we apply the principles I mentioned at the beginning: Unity of Command and Unity of Effort.

    It becomes more and more obvious that cooperation within the existing structures is not enough. I think we should fist of all concentrate on the creation of more efficiency by better spending and better decision-making.

    It would be a big step forward to harmonize the equipment and the training of these troops which are available for common operations under the command of the European Union, first of all the Battle groups.

    Concrete steps and measures are needed. I think we should draft a European White Book on Security Policy which contains practical measures for the implementation and the further development of the European Security Strategy.

    This White book should concentrate on key capabilities, common equipment and better spending.

    It's the taxpayer's money and it is our responsibility to ensure that the citizens get for their money as much security as possible.