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Cooperation among EU Member States on security and defense issues is nothing new per se and has been conducted in different formats. In recent years however, cooperation increasingly became a necessity rather than a political choice. It is understood by EU Member States that with limited resources at hand, new technologies evolving and a changing strategic environment, cooperation among EU Member States is the only way forward.
The new challenges are transnational and the EU is the only Organisation capable of providing a comprehensive approach to current threats and challenges. That is why we are increasing cooperation between internal and external actions.
The Union supports Member States by providing structures and instruments to boost cooperation in an efficient manner. For example:
In order to be able to protect EU citizens, values and interests the right equipment, technology and expertise is needed. The EU is thus working towards a strong European industrial and technological base to have the ability to tackle common threats effectively. Planning, Developing and using these capabilities together saves tax payers’ money. The cost of non-cooperation is estimated to be above 25 billion euro per year. We must thus reduce our duplications in spending and get better value for money. This will make us stronger and safer. In addition, by creating an economy of scale and a more efficient defence market the Union is creating quality employment for its citizens. Ensuring the availability of high-end technologies and equipment in the years to come is thus a question of economic competitiveness and European security alike.
Another example of joint actions in defending EU interests are the EU’s military and civilian missions and operations abroad. A crisis in our neighbourhood can have a direct impact on our own security and economic interests. For instance criminal and terrorist networks can grow in crisis striken countries and threaten Europe. Or European freighters are attacked by pirates. EU operations and missions are aiming at long-term stabilisation, helping to rebuild countries and prevention of further conflict.
Around 2,000 civilian staff, such as police officers, coast guards, political or legal advisors and 3,300 military staff are currently deployed under EU flag. They may serve far from home, but they contribute directly to security at home, ie the EU.
The EU also has other important instruments at its disposal such as diplomacy, development cooperation and humanitarian aid or sanctions to name but a few. Hard and soft power work best in tandem when addressing conflicts and crises. An integrated approach, helping from different angles with different tools stands a larger chance to effectively stabilise crisis situations in the short and also the longer term. This is the European way.