European Union External Action

President Juncker at the Munich Security Conference: EU to become more capable of world politics

20/02/2018 - 18:29

President Juncker in his widely picked up speech said the EU must become more "weltpolitikfaehig", a new term coined by the President to express the desired level of capacity of the EU to play its role at the stage of world politics

"Soft power is not powerful enough. We need more strength in foreign, security and defence matters." President Juncker emphasised that "in order to be able to act credibly on the global stage we have to simplify our decision-making processes. It cannot be that we always have to decide by unanimity when it comes to foreign and defence policies."

The President referred to issues such as the South China Sea, human rights in the People's Republic of China or the question of Jerusalem where the EU had been unable to achieve unified positions. Simplified decision-making processes in the EU would have facilitated this.  On the issue how to move towards more majority voting President Juncker said: "I have presented [such a proposal] in my State of the Union speech in the European Parliament and the Commission intends to submit proposals in that regard. Unlike some people think, this does not require Treaty change – Article 31 (3) of the Treaty of Lisbon foresees that."

Specifically in the area of defence, President Juncker noted the significant progress that had already been achieved during the last year, more than in the 20 years before. He noted that the EU had "to unify and improve [military] procurement significantly. With the European Defence Fund, we have set up EUR 90 million for [defence] research for the years 2018 and 2019. Until 2020 we will set up EUR 590 million, and after 2020 EUR 1,5 billion – and here the Member States have to help."

As to some of the reactions by partners regarding the EU achievements in the area of defence, President Juncker noted "not without astonishment" that some "picture that the European Union would become too independent when it comes to security and defence policy." He said it was exactly the objective that "we would like to emancipate ourselves." However, he explained that there was no intention to emancipate the EU against NATO or against the U.S. The European Treaty stipulated clearly that NATO and the European Union must be complementary.

Finally on BREXIT President Juncker advocated a strong continuing security partnership: "I firmly believe that we continue to need this security bridge, this security alliance between the UK and the European Union.". Nevertheless he said "this matter should however not be mixed with other questions resulting from Brexit. I would not want security considerations and trade considerations to be thrown into one same pot."