Better spending is the way to advances and innovation for security and defence

Since the creation of the European Security and Defence Policy, 22 missions have been carried out within the framework of the ESDP, including 16 civilian missions and six military operations. This fact not only shows the importance of the civilian components of the ESDP, it also shows why the European Parliament plays an important role in the context o ESDP: The civilian missions are financed from the European budget and therefore under the control of the European Parliament. In addition to that there are five billion Euros in the European budget foreseen for security related projects such as the satellite navigation system Galileo (which should be available for ESDP missions and operations), the Kopernikus-GMES-System and Security Research.

Last year we had for the first time European legislation on defence matters. A directive on defence procurement and a directive on intra-community transfers of defence-related goods were adopted in co-decision by the European Parliament and the Council.

The Parliament's influence in security and defence matters is clearly growing. And the European Parliament is determined to make use of this influence to push things forward.

The European Parliament's 2009 Annual Report on the European Security and Defence Policy which I prepared and which was adopted on 19 February 2009 by a large majority (482 yes, 111 no), stresses that the European Union needs to develop its strategic autonomy through a strong and effective foreign, security and defence policy in order to promote peace and international security, to defend its interests in the world, to protect the security of its own citizens, to contribute to effective multilateralism and to advance respect for human rights and democratic values.

The European Parliament stresses in its report that the European Security and Defence Policy should be based on our common European Security interests.

All too often, thinking in the Member States remains confined within the framework of national security interests and the common responsibility for protecting joint European interests is thus neglected.

The Parliament considers it necessary, therefore, to define the European Union's common security interests. Only if it has a clear idea of its common interests can the Union make its common policy more coherent and effective. The European parliament is of the opinion that, in addition to the challenges identified in the ESS as adopted in 2003, the security interests of the Union include the protection of its citizens and its interests inside the European Union as well as abroad, the security of its neighbourhood and the protection of its external borders and critical infrastructure, as well as the improvement of its cyber security, the security of energy supply and sea lanes, the protection of its space assets and protection against the consequences of climate change.

But we have not only to define our European security interests. The European Union must also define more clearly its ambitions concerning its role in the world. The European Parliament stated clearly in its report that it is of the opinion that the European Union should not try to become a superpower like the United States but that it should instead guarantee its security and security in its neighbourhood.

In every case the European Union has to have the means to implement its policies. Most of these challenges are not simply military and cannot be met by military means or not by military means alone. The European Security and Defence Policy has to combine the use of both civilian and military assets and capabilities, and it requires close and seamless cooperation between all stakeholders.

The European Union therefore needs both civilian and military capabilities in order to strengthen the European Security and Defence Policy and to fulfil its responsibilities in the world.

Today, our ability to act is often limited by the absence of key capabilities. It was for example quite difficult to find three helicopters for the Operation in Tchad.

The Member States of the European Union together spend more than EUR 200 billion per year on defence, which is more than half the defence expenditure of the United States. The European Parliament repeatedly expressed its deeps concern about the lack of efficiency and coordination in the utilisation of European defence budgets.

This inefficiency is partly due to the fact that we do not have a common European defence and security market. Borders between the Member States which have been abolished in 1992 still exist in the field of defence.

The European Parliament strongly supports the reinforcement of a European defence and security market. We have therefore adopted the Commission's legislative proposals for public procurement and intra-Community transfers and we suggest further initiatives to achieve this objective, in particular in the areas of security of supply and security of information.

The present absence of a common European defence and security market has led to much unnecessary duplication of procurement programmes and to much unnecessary costs. Common operations like Kosovo and Tchad become more costly by the fact that due to the different equipment parallel chains of supply have to be organised.

It is often said that duplications between the European Union and NATO have to be avoided. This is certainly true. However I must point to the fact that the duplications between the Member States are the main problem on our way to improve our capabilities and that we must improve our ability to spend better together. The increasingly expensive development of new military or security technology has already stimulated strong moves towards integration. Despite this, there is still much room for greater efficiency.

An example for that is space. We have three parallel national systems of satellite-based intelligence with different strengths and weaknesses. For humanitarian missions, natural disasters, the surveillance of our outside borders and for ESDP missions we have a common need for real time pictures, independent from weather and day time. The present situation, although costly, does not fulfil these requirements.

We have to make greater to eliminate unnecessary duplication between Member States, namely through specialisation, pooling and sharing of existing capabilities, and joint development of new ones. Therefore, the Member States should take full advantage of the potential of the European Defence Agency. Less unnecessary duplications among EU Member States and a more efficient European defence spending will also strengthen NATO.

Capability needs are often technologically very similar or even identical for armed forces operations, border surveillance, protection of critical infrastructure and disaster management. This creates new opportunities to exploit synergies and enhance interoperability between armed forces and security forces. The European Union and its Member States should focus their efforts on common capabilities which can be used for both defence and security purposes. In this context, satellite-based intelligence, surveillance and warning equipment, unmanned air vehicles, helicopters and telecommunication equipment and air and sea transport are crucial.

In the field of command and control we face the same problem of unnecessary duplications and incompatible equipment. What is needed is a common basic standard for the communications systems of military, police and disaster control services with different ways of coding. 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. We therefore need a common technical standard for protected telecommunications.

The European Parliament therefore supports the cooperative development of a Software-Defined Radio (SDR) by the Commission and the European Defence Agency. SDR will contribute to better interoperability of telecommunications systems.

I also welcome the decision taken by the Steering Board of the EDA on 10 November 2008 on the establishment of a European Air Transport Fleet and the Declaration of Intent on participation in this initiative, signed by the Defence Ministers of twelve EU Member States.

In its report adopted on 19 February 2009, the European Parliament also stresses the necessity to allow the use of Galileo and GMES for security and defence purposes. The European Parliament has repeatedly stressed the importance of the space dimension to the security of the European Union and the need for a common approach necessary for defending European interests in space. We need space assets in order that the political and diplomatic activities of the European Union may be based on independent, reliable and complete information in support of its policies for conflict prevention, crisis management operations and global security, especially the monitoring of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of transportation and verification of international treaties, the transnational smuggling of light weapons and small arms, the protection of critical infrastructure and of the European Union's borders, and civil protection in the event of natural and man-made disasters and crises. The Parliament therefore encouraged the Member States of the European Union, the European Space Agency and the various stakeholders to make greater and better use of the existing national and multinational space systems and to foster their complementarity.

In this context the European Parliament called on the EU Member States to pool and exchange the geospatial intelligence necessary for autonomous EU threat assessment and urged that the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC) be fully developed to make full use of its potential. The European Parliament underlined the necessity of Galileo for autonomous ESDP operations, for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, for Europe's own security and for the Union's strategic autonomy and noted that, in particular, its public-regulated service will be vital in the field of navigation, positioning and timing, not least in order to avoid unnecessary risks. I think we should also consider the creation of a European space surveillance system leading to space situational awareness (including, for example, GRAVES and TIRA) to monitor the space infrastructure, space debris and, possibly, other threats. The European Parliament clearly supports the possibility of funding future European satellite systems supporting ESDP operations from the EU budget (EP report on Space and Security, 10 July 2008).

The European Union should continue to build its capabilities on the basis of the civilian and military headline goals and should endeavour to make a force of 60 000 soldiers permanently available. The European Parliament reaffirmed its proposal that the Eurocorps should be the core of this force, if necessary reinforced by additional maritime and air capacities. The Parliament therefore welcomed the agreement concluded between Germany and France on maintaining the Franco-German Brigade at joint locations.

The European Parliament also welcomed the Council’s commitment to the idea that Europe should actually be capable in the years ahead, within the framework of the level of ambition established, inter alia of deploying 60 000 men in 60 days for a major operation, within the range of operations envisaged within the headline goal for 2010 and, within the civilian headline goal for 2010, of planning and conducting simultaneously:

–two major stabilisation and reconstruction operations, with a suitable civilian component, supported by a maximum of 10 000 men for at least two years;

–two rapid response operations of limited duration using inter alia the EU's Battlegroups;

–an emergency operation for the evacuation of European nationals (in less than ten days), bearing in mind the primary role of each Member State as regards its nationals and making use of the consular lead State concept;

–a maritime or air surveillance/interdiction mission;

–a civilian-military humanitarian assistance operation lasting up to 90 days;

–around a dozen ESDP civilian missions (including inter alia police, rule of law, civil administration, civil protection, security sector reform and observation missions) of varying formats, operating inter alia in a rapid reaction situation, including a major mission (potentially involving up to 3 000 experts) which could last several years.

The realisation of these ambitious plans will make it necessary to strengthen the capacity at the European level to undertake strategic planning and to conduct ESDP operations and missions. The European Parliament therefore urges to set up an autonomous and permanent EU Operational Headquarters and to establish an integrated civilian and military strategic planning structure for ESDP operations and missions.

But the further development of the European Security and Defence Policy is not only a question of technical capabilities and of headline goals.

It is also important to foster the development of a common European security and defence culture. The European Union is characterised by a large diversity of historically rooted defence and security traditions. The defence policies of the 27 member states are still displaying substantial differences, in areas such as strategic planning, transformation doctrine, equipment or leadership style.

There are more factors uniting than dividing us. 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. These common convictions provide a good common base for the development of a common European security and defence culture. But experience has shown that we have still a lot to do in order to overcome the differences which divide us.

The European Parliament considers it therefore particularly important to strengthen the European Security and Defence College and to transform it into permanent structure.This college can contribute to the development of a specifically European security culture. We also urge the Commission to continue funding common training activities at the European level in the field of civilian crisis management beyond 2009.

Experience has shown that we have to take a closer look on the social situation of personnel who are to be deployed and to work together in civilian and military operations. We need further initiatives concerning common training and common standards for personnel, increased interaction between the armed forces and civilian personnel of Member States, coordination of crisis-related training, exchange programmes among armed forces in Europe and the opening-up of armies to citizens of other Member States. Belgium has already opened its Armed Forces to citizens of all Member States.

The European Parliament's 2009 Annual Report on the European Security and Defence Policy which was adopted on 19 February 2009 also approves the dynamic further development of cooperation between national armed forces so that they become increasingly synchronised. We propose that this process and the armed forces should be given the name “SAFE” – Synchronised Armed Forces Europe. SAFE would provide sufficient room for manoeuvre for neutral Member States as well as those bound by military alliances, for those which already work closely together and for those which are still reluctant to do so. We proposes an opt-in model for the organisation of SAFE based on more intensive voluntary synchronisation.

A European statute for soldiers within the framework of SAFE should govern training standards, operational doctrine and freedom of operational action, issues relating to duties and rights, as well as the level of equipment quality, medical care and social security arrangements in the event of death, injury or incapacity.

In its report adopted on 19 February 2009, the European Parliament calls for the elaboration of a European White Book on Security and Defence as a tool to be used to initiate a wide-ranging public debate and to ensure that the ESS is implemented in an efficient way.

In my opinion this White Book should concentrate on two main areas: Capabilities and the social situation of civilian and military personnel in European missions and operations.

This White Book should be elaborated in an open and transparent way. The elaboration of the French White Book could therefore serve as an example.

Transparency and parliamentary accountability are crucial in order to ensure public support for European defence. In this connection it is of particular importance to ensure effective parliamentary scrutiny of the ESDP in the form of close cooperation between the European Parliament and the parliaments of EU Member States.

Most of the threats to security facing us today have one thing in common: no single state can tackle them effectively on its own. Many of the duties arising in the areas of security and defence can be tackled effectively only at European level, such as guarding Europe’s external borders, the fight against international crime and smashing terrorist funding networks. This would have been too tall an order for the individual Member States on their own, and NATO does not have the instruments to drain terrorists’ funding networks, for example. Most citizens are fully aware of this fact: According to Eurobarometer surveys (June 2008), 81% of EU citizens think that the fight against terrorism should be led at the European level.

Dr. Karl von Wogau

Secretary General, European Security Foundation