European Union External Action

Growing EU military power at service of peace, UN Charter and multilateralism

05/07/2017 - 18:59

The European Union is moving fast to consolidate and reinforce its security and defence capabilities, to strengthen the European way of delivering peace and security, centred on being a "cooperative power; a multilateral power; always believing in an integrated approach; always believing in prevention", High Representative Federica Mogherini said yesterday in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

For the EU, its 28 Member States, all its citizens as well as our partners around the world, boosting European security and defence is a top priority. The EU has the means and the responsibility to do this, and is delivering, Mogherini told MEPs.

This work, however, "is not leading to a 'militarisation' of the European Union," she emphasised, but was a question of ensuring we use all the tools at our disposal, combining civilian and military means, hard and soft power, cooperation with our partners and also strategic autonomy.

"There is no single crisis or threat in the world that can be dealt with a purely military approach.. Security for us is also development cooperation, it is also climate change action, it is also investment in peacekeeping, and so on," Mogherini said. "So, the European Union not only is but will stay the most relevant donor of humanitarian and development aid]. We are going to stay the main pillar of the multilateral system based on the UN agencies, on the UN values and principles, and also on the approach that preventing a conflict is always better than dealing with it militarily."

Regarding security and defence, the High Representative pointed out that "it is not about militarising but it is about rationalising, about the efficiency of the investments – how we can use our resources with economies of scale and also how we can use the instruments of acting together as a Union in the world."

While the EU as a whole invests half of what the USA does in defence, the output of this investment is only comparable to 15% of the US output. To change this, the EU has launched initiatives for the coordination of national defence plans, the establishment of a common European Defence Fund, the financing of Battlegroup deployments and to boost civilian crisis management. The first-ever EU command centre has been established in Brussels to centralise operational planning and Member States are moving forward with plans to launch "inclusive and ambitious" Permanent Structured Cooperation to jointly develop and deploy military capabilities.