Member states must demonstrate political will and a new mindset on European defence to make the EU a relevant global actor and security provider with real strategic autonomy, foreign affairs MEPs said on Thursday. The December EU summit must make clear that the European dimension is more relevant in defence than ever, they said, stressing that the EU has to be able to provide security for its citizens.
The European Council meeting in December, the first to be devoted to security and defence since 2008, should take substantive decisions and be the starting point for ongoing discussion at the highest political level, rather than an isolated event, MEPs say in a resolution drafted by Maria Eleni Koppa (S&D, EL), which sets out their recommendations for the summit.
Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) must be better integrated into the EU's comprehensive approach to its external policies and the potential of the tools of the Lisbon treaty, such as entrusting a core group of countries with CSDP missions, must be unleashed, MEPs say. They also call for stronger cooperation between the EU and NATO through a complementary approach.
MEPs also call for the 2003 European Security Strategy to be revamped and focused more on the EU's neighbourhood. The summit could set the process in motion, MEPs say, repeating their call for a white paper on EU security and defence policy. National defence reviews should also take greater account of the European dimension.
Boost CSDP missions
CSDP missions fall short of requirements, in terms of numbers, timeliness and staffing, MEPs note. The EU needs to be able to make decisions more flexibly to avoid delayed responses in crisis scenarios. It also needs a permanent military operational headquarters and adequate early warning and intelligence support, they say.
The summit should also address the issue of the EU battlegroups, which have still never been deployed.
Fight the shortfalls in capabilities
Member states must cooperate more closely to avoid redundancy and duplication of some assets, while other critical capabilities, such as air-to-air refuelling, satellite communication or drones face shortfalls, MEPs say. They call for a truly collective effort in planning and strengthening the role of the European Defence Agency (EDA) in this respect.
Strengthen European Defence Technological and Industrial Base
In a separate resolution, drafted by Michael Gahler (EPP, DE) in cooperation with the Industry committee, MEPs call for a boost to European industrial cooperation to ensure that the EU has strategic autonomy and can protect its citizens. The defence sector is also a major source of growth and innovation, they stress.
The fragmentation of the EU defence market is not sustainable, MEPs say. They want the internal market in defence equipment to be strengthened and a common approach taken towards standardisation and certification, including hybrid standards that integrate civil and military aspects. Recent Commission proposals on research in dual-use technologies should be endorsed by the European Council.
The member states, the Commission and the European Defence Agency must also develop an ambitious EU-wide security-of-supply regime, in particular for strategic materials and critical technologies, the text adds.
The resolutions, adopted by 40 votes to 11, with 7 abstentions (Koppa) and 40 votes to 12, with 7 abstentions (Gahler), will be put to a vote by the full House during its November session in Strasbourg (from 18 to 21 November.).
In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)