European Union External Action

Europe must take greater responsibility for its own security - EU Heads of States and Government agree

29/06/2018 - 19:56

Cooperation between Member States within the framework of "Permanent Structured Cooperation", sharing of defence plans and more investment in security and defence will strengthen the EU's strategic autonomy and reinforce NATO, agree all 28 national leaders.

At the European Council of 28 June 2018, the 28 EU Heads of States and Government took a series of decisions that will enable the EU to further underpin its role as a credible and reliable security provider.

The European Council emphasised the steps taken to bolster European defence and enhance  the EU's strategic autonomy while complementing and reinforcing the activities of the transatlantic NATO alliance.

A focus now is on the full implementation of already existing commitments in the area of security and defence. This concerns for example commitments taken by Member States in the area of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) which provides a binding framework for them to cooperate more closely and effectively. Cooperation will be consistent with the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the revised Capability Development Plan (CDP) that provide broad EU frameworks for efficient military planning and investment.

Leaders also highlighted the need to push ahead with the important project to improve military mobility within Europe so troops and equipment can move seamlessly and ensure rapid and effective security and defence operations. This serves to increase Europe's capability of working operationally together in the military area or fielding rapidly missions and operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Among other things Member States are now called upon to simplify and standardise relevant mobility rules and procedures by 2024. These efforts will obviously fully respect the sovereignty of the Member States and be reviewed yearly on the basis of a report, starting in spring 2019.

The European Council also concluded on a host of other issues such as the implementation of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, further progress on the European Defence Fund (EDF), efforts to strengthen civilian CSDP and the Joint Communication on Europe's resilience to hybrid and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear-related threats. It also calls for further deepening of EU-NATO cooperation including through a new Joint Declaration.

Finally, another important point is the call for an action plan by December 2018 with specific proposals for a coordinated EU response to the challenge of disinformation, including appropriate mandates and sufficient resources for the relevant EEAS Strategic Communications teams.

The EU as a global actor and security provider

Global challenges have not only increased in recent years, they have become more complex, multidimensional, and rapidly evolving. To effectively address them, the European Union needs to strengthen its range of external actions with efficient and flexible instruments. Action to help prevent conflict, build peace and strengthen international security is critical. The EU and its Member States' higher level of ambition to work together in the area of defence is not the beginning of a militarisation or an arms race with third countries, but a clear response to the demand for security and stability by European citizens and our partners in the world. In this context, defence is just one element in the EU’s unique mix of instruments at hand to tackle today’s complex security challenges more effectively.