Wednesday, February 21

The Twenty-seven approve the plan that creates a rapid deployment force of 5,000 soldiers

  • The objective of the new defense strategy is to start carrying out regular military maneuvers from 2023 and for the capacity to be operational in 2025

  • The heads of state and government of the EU will endorse the so-called ‘strategic compass’ at the European summit at the end of the week

If the Russian invasion of Ukraine has revealed anything, it is that the European Union needs to take a “quantum leap forward” that will allow it to increase its capacity to act, its resilience and to ensure mutual assistance in the event of a crisis or conflict. Some objectives that the Twenty-seven aspire to make a reality with the call ‘strategic compass’the common defense strategy adopted this Monday by the EU foreign and defense ministers, after two years of work, and which will be endorsed by the Heads of State and Government of the EU at the summit at the end of the week. The plan includes carrying out regular European military exercises from 2023 and the development of a capacity to rapidly deploy up to 5,000 troops by land, sea and air.

“The current hostile environment requires a quantum leap forward” and “the compass offers us an ambitious action plan for the next decade”, summarized the head of European diplomacy, Joseph Borrell, about the document advanced last November and that will guide the steps of the Twenty-seven in this area until 2030. “I do not want to abuse the word historic but it is a turning point for the EU as a security provider”, he explained about an agreement which will be updated regularly. “It is not a response to the war in Ukraine but it comes on time and at the right time,” said Borrell after the double advice.

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The analysis starts by warning of the return from war to the European continent, hand in hand with an “unjustified and unprovoked aggression by Russia against Ukraine” that has tested the “European capacity” to promote its vision and interests. The diagnosis of the Twenty-seven is clear: “we live in an era of strategic competition and complex security threats”, they point out, pointing to the “increase in conflicts”, “military aggression” and “sources of instability”, both in the environment as well as outside, as well as the growing hybrid threats and soft power, which turns vaccines, data and technological standards into a weapon “Access to the high seas, outer space and the digital sphere is increasingly disputed “We are facing increasing attempts at economic and energy coercion. In addition, conflicts and instability are often aggravated by the threat multiplier effect of climate change”, they continue.

rapid deployment

The EU’s response is a strategic agenda that aims first and foremost to act. “We have to be able to act quickly and decisively when a crisis breaks out, with partners if possible and alone when necessary,” they point out. To this end, they will strengthen civilian and military missions by providing them with more robust and flexible mandates, promoting a faster and more flexible decision-making process and guaranteeing greater financial solidarity. The idea is to develop a rapid deployment capacity, based on the combat groups created in 2007 and never used due to lack of agreement, which allows the deployment of up to 5,000 troops “in non-permissive environments”, for different types of crises as well as reinforce the command and control structures.

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The plan also promises to provide more security by anticipating threats, enhancing intelligence capabilities, and creating an EU hybrid toolbox bringing together different instruments to detect and respond to all kinds of hybrid threats, including foreign information manipulation and interference. In addition, it will strengthen cyber defense capability with the aim of responding to cyber-attacks and reinforcing the situation in the maritime, air and space fields, in particular by expanding coordinated maritime presences to other areas, starting with the Indo-Pacific, and developing an EU space strategy for security and the defense.

To make the new roadmap a reality, it will be necessary to invest more in defense. “1.5% of GDP is not enough, we must spend more and do it better and this means avoiding duplication and gaps”, Borrell explained about a current budget -of 200,000 million- that is not enough. “We spend the same as China and all together we spend four times as much as Russia, but not with the same efficiency,” recalled Borrell. The strategy also makes it clear that all this work will be done in a complementary to NATO, which will continue to be the foundation of the collective defense of its members”.

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