Future of the Eurocorps

Strasbourg, 12 May 2016

 At a meeting with members of the Eurocorps in Strasbourg Karl von Wogau, Secretary General of the Kangaroo Group and Honorary Member of the European Parliament, stated that the Eurocorps should be moved into the center of the Common Security and Defence Policy. It should become the Preferred Headquarter of the European Union. Moreover its five framework nations France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg should take the decision to put the Eurocorps at the permanent disposal of the European Union.

 “The European Union is at a crossroads concerning the European Security and Defence Policy. In the Security strategy of 2003 we still could say that Europe was never so prosperous, so free and so secure. Events in Ukraine, Syria, and Libya have profoundly changed this picture. Moreover, we are confronted with increasing instability at our borders, proliferation of arms, terrorism and hybrid warfare. If we continue to believe in an autonomous European Security and Defence Policy, we have to strengthen the instruments which have been created since the summits of Helsinki and Cologne.

 The missions using the instruments of the Common Security and Defence Policy have had a very low profile. Operations in Congo, Chad, the Horn of Africa and Mali have been reported in the media as missions of the participating nations. There has been almost no awareness that these were missions of the European Union and that these soldiers were serving under the European flag.

 At this point, we have to make a choice: Either we abandon the idea of an autonomous European Security and Defence Policy, or we have to demonstrate by an initiative that this idea is still alive.

 I therefore propose an initiative of the Framework Nations to make the Eurocorps a center piece of the European Security and Defence Policy.

 This initiative will have to start with a smaller group of member countries as it was also the case with Schengen and the Euro. The framework nations of the Eurocorps with France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and later Poland represent a good mixture of big, medium and small member countries. This combination has been a good recipe for successful initiatives in the past. I therefore think that this group of countries would be well suited to start this project. It could take the form of a simple agreement. At a later stage, it could feed into a Permanent Structured Cooperation.

 That would mean that the Framework Nations would decide as a first step to put the Eurocorps at the permanent disposal of the European Union as it has been proposed by the European Parliament. It would also mean that the Eurocorps becomes the Preferred Headquarter of the European Union whatever operation is involved. This would streamline the sometimes very time consuming procedures because unlike the national headquarters the Eurocorps is already multinationalized. This of course implies some major changes in governance, proceedings and capabilities.

 In addition to this, common equipment concerning Telecommunication, Navigation and observation should be developed. This could partly be financed from the Budget of the European Union. We should also look for solutions concerning the very different social situations of the soldiers deployed in common European operations.

 As a long term goal we have to build the European pillar of Nato. We will have to convince our American friends, who have always been critical against what they call a European caucus, that it is better to have a strong partner instead of having 27 weak ones. Today we have a Nato of 1 plus 27. We should head toward a Nato relying on the US as a superpower, the European Union as a strong European partner plus several other allies with different levels of strength. But at the same time we have to convince our European Governments to take more responsibility for the Security of our continent and to organize themselves in a way to make this possible.

 The Eurocorps should become not only a useful instrument, but also a symbol for a Europe that contributes more to its own security”.