Europe of Defence? Views on the future of defence cooperation

07-07-2016

Against the backdrop of growing security challenges, the debate regarding the future of European defence cooperation has grown in relevance. While the Lisbon Treaty introduced significant possibilities with regard to the future of EU defence policy, and while there has been consistent EU Member State public support for further cooperation in this area, progress has been slow. The impact of the economic crisis on defence budgets, fears concerning the effects of more integration on national defence industries and various political considerations are some of the reasons that have been given to explain the reluctance to move towards closer cooperation in defence until now. In early 2015, comments by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker regarding the possibility for the creation of an EU army sparked a wide debate among experts and political elites. In June 2015, the European Council concluded that work would continue on a more effective Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), on the further development of civilian and military capabilities, and on the strengthening of Europe's defence industry. A revamped role for the EU in defence is an important part of the EU Global Strategy presented to Member States at the European Council in June 2016. Individual Member States have also taken the lead in the proposals on how to move ahead, suggesting that the momentum is there on many fronts. The European Parliament has been a longstanding advocate of a stronger and more effective CSDP. This briefing complements an earlier briefing, European defence cooperation: State of play and thoughts on an EU army, published in March 2015.

Against the backdrop of growing security challenges, the debate regarding the future of European defence cooperation has grown in relevance. While the Lisbon Treaty introduced significant possibilities with regard to the future of EU defence policy, and while there has been consistent EU Member State public support for further cooperation in this area, progress has been slow. The impact of the economic crisis on defence budgets, fears concerning the effects of more integration on national defence industries and various political considerations are some of the reasons that have been given to explain the reluctance to move towards closer cooperation in defence until now. In early 2015, comments by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker regarding the possibility for the creation of an EU army sparked a wide debate among experts and political elites. In June 2015, the European Council concluded that work would continue on a more effective Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), on the further development of civilian and military capabilities, and on the strengthening of Europe's defence industry. A revamped role for the EU in defence is an important part of the EU Global Strategy presented to Member States at the European Council in June 2016. Individual Member States have also taken the lead in the proposals on how to move ahead, suggesting that the momentum is there on many fronts. The European Parliament has been a longstanding advocate of a stronger and more effective CSDP. This briefing complements an earlier briefing, European defence cooperation: State of play and thoughts on an EU army, published in March 2015.