EU member states should cooperate to overcome the legislative and infrastructural bottlenecks that hinder the EU’s ability to respond quickly in case of crises.

EU member states should ensure that their militaries can cross Union borders without hindrance, because efficient military mobility helps bring about a quicker response to emergency crises and natural disasters, say MEPs in a report adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday. Legislative and infrastructural differences create obstacles to such rapid movement of troops and heavy military equipment within the EU, thus weakening the promptness to act in face of emergencies. For a more effective EU defence, it is crucial to overcome these hurdles, the MEPs say.

Dual use of transport infrastructure

MEPs stressed the importance to assess and adapt the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) for dual (civilian and military) use. They asked the Commission to specify, by 31 December 2019, military requirements, list the parts of the transport network suitable for military transport, and indicate which infrastructure projects are priority for a dual use conversion.

MEPs welcomed the Commission proposal to fund military mobility projects via the Connecting Europe Facility, a funding programme that supports the development of transport, energy and digital infrastructure within trans-European networks. This will improve the dual use of the infrastructure network, they note.

Logistical barriers

The insufficient height of road tunnels, the divergent load capacity of bridges and the inadequate load capacity of railways represent logistical bottlenecks that hinder the rapid transfers of military personnel and equipment across and beyond the EU. EU members, including both inside and outside NATO, should cooperate and coordinate to eliminate these barriers, say MEPs.

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Rapporteur Tunne Kelam (EPP, EE) said: “EU member states' capacity and efficiency in military mobility is the crucial testing ground whether high level commitments of mutual solidarity and assistance in case of aggression or natural disasters will be reliable and have a practical value. Both the aggression against one or more member states as well as natural disasters require rapid and smooth transportation of military equipment and allied soldiers from all over Europe to the site of the crisis”.

Next steps

The Foreign Affairs Committee approved the report on military mobility by 39 votes to 13, with 4 abstentions. The full House is to vote on it at the December plenary session in Strasbourg.