A Sight on European Defence

The European Union Institute for Security Studies has just released a report titled “What do Europeans want from NATO?”. As usual for productions published under the umbrella of this institute, it is worth reading this new document, and even if I do not totally agree with some of the points, the different articles are really interesting. The full text of the report can be found on ISS website: http://www.iss.europa.eu/.

This aging married couple formed by the USA and Europe is living in a strange situation: they always disagree or are unable to find a conclusive agreement on whatever they negotiate about and, nevertheless, they remain together as they perfectly know that they are bound to a common destiny over the next years.

I will not elaborate on the fact that most of the EU members are as well NATO members, as relations between both organizations could look like a sort of soft schizophrenia.

The first point they have to agree on is the NATO and its role in international security. But before dealing with the very role of this organization, we should have a look at the diverse perception of security that characterizes the European countries. Shortly, the more you travel to the East, the stronger the resentment against Russia is, to reach such a level, that the most Eastern ones reduce their security policy to their obsession of facing Russian provocations or attempts of destabilization.

On the other side, European Western countries are more concerned by their energy supply and see in Moscow mainly a gas and oil provider, even if it is sometimes an uncomfortable partner, mainly when invading Georgia or leaving hackers working against EU Member States networks.

In the same time, the USA encompasses Russia in a global approach, which includes the other side of the country, the Pacific geopolitics and subsequently China. We could as well include a consideration that I found in this ISS report and that I find really interesting: what would be the reaction of China if there were a big alliance including the USA, most of the EU members and Russia? In terms of strategy, both Sea and Earth would be in the hands of the same group of countries. This concern would even grow when adding their areas of influence to the balance of powers.

In such conditions, how to reach an agreement on the future relations between NATO, the EU and Russia, if the USA want to show its pacific relations to China?

When the NATO, supposed to serve firstly for common defence, includes countries spanning from the USA to Albania, how is it possible to reach a common understanding, a consensus on strategy? And even, even if the new concept is agreed in the next summit of Lisbon, how will it be implemented, with what money, how can those countries focuses on their eastern border accept to melt their tiny armed forces in the same pot that another country not interested at all by Russia, at least from a security perspective?

Then afterwards, what role for NATO: first collective defence and second a toolbox for some expeditionary forces in service of the international organizations, or vice versa? As well, should NATO limit its expeditionary capabilities to peace support operations or go on with coercion like already done in Afghanistan?

And what about task sharing between the EU and NATO? Should some operations left to the EU or should they work side by side?

There is so many questions, that I do not feel the Europeans able to agree on those points. And even, would they agree, I have some on the capability of European countries to reform their defence tools enough to include them in pooling or mutualised system, where some countries would accept to melt voluntarily their assets and publicly renounce to the fiction of their autonomy.

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