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The European Defence Council 2013 – an attempt that bore scant fruit?

The European Defence Council 2013 – an attempt that bore scant fruit?

I want to welcome you all to this event that we organise together with the SWP, on the follow up of the December Summit. For us, it is important to keep the momentum on this very crucial subject.

The European Council of December 2013 was the first, which after many years, was dedicated to defence.
Fifteen years after Saint Malo, ten years after the 2003 European Council, when the European Security Strategy was adopted, and 5 years since a brief review, it was high time to revisit the very concept of CSDP under the new realities.

In a world that changes rapidly, in a framework of new threats and risks for the European security, it was absolutely needed to assess the new geopolitical situation and decide on what Europe we want at the global level?

• A Europe, mainly a big market and a security consumer or a security provider?
As rapporteur of the EP on the perspectives of the CSDP, I tried to present the high level of ambition of this House on European Security and Defence and the will to move forward. We believe that Europe should be a global player in all levels. The Common Security and Defence are at the very essence of the European project and that we have the obligation to protect our citizens and stabilize our neighbourhood in an ever changing world.
The High Representative, Lady Ashton, presented, in view of the Council, an interesting paper that, even if it fell short of the Parliament’s ambitions, it presented the strategic framework and the priorities of the Union at the Security and Defence level.

• And the Summit?
I want to be positive and not call it disappointing. It was, however, obvious once more that national egoisms prevailed and steps that could have been taken were prevented. In fact, no real decisions have been taken.
What was the positive side?
It kicked off a long overdue process about the future of CSDP and fixed a new appointment for June 15.
We still need a lot of time. The question is: do we have the luxury?

• In the next period there are two important moments:
1. The NATO summit next September, where NATO has to reinvent itself by adopting a new narrative for its future, which largely goes beyond the idea of a military alliance.
2. The European Council in June 2015, as decided in December.
The December Conclusions contained 22 paragraphs with a series of explicit or implicit tasks, most of them with deadlines up to June 2015.
So at the least, we have a rough agenda.
Still the main setback is that the EC put off urgent, necessary decisions.

• Let us however stick at the bright side:
1. The discussion has started and all EU governments were obliged to reflect on the question of European defence.
2. The European Council has openly endorsed ongoing projects carried by member states supported by EDA, such as drones, air to air refuelling, SATCOM, cyber defence.
3. It has set a timetable for delivering on specific policy initiatives such as The EU maritime Security Strategy by June 14 and a new Cyber Defence Policy Framework over the next 12 months.
We have a long way to go, that is certain.

• Can we call the December summit a turning point?
I am not sure but the way the EU institutions will try to implement the admittedly very general guidelines will be decisive for the final outcome.
In any case it is an open-ended process which all of us, EP, Commission, Council NGOS and stakeholders should follow closely.

MEP Maria-Eleni Koppa co-organised with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs – Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), an expert discussion, on Wednesday 29th of January 2014, at the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels

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