The European Defence Union: the future of the Union or utopia?

On 26 June, European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) published the 2018 yearbook, which presents the most relevant aspects in terms of security for the European Union, as well as the external activity of the union in neighbouring southern and eastern regions. The document chronologically reviews the main events that have taken place at international level that have affected the Union in one way or another, as well as recalling the several plans and strategies promoted by the European Union or by its different organs also in terms of collective security.

The yearbook is divided into three sections:

The first focuses on the external activity of the European Union in nearby regions like North Africa and the Middle East and explains its presence in diplomatic, financial and security terms everywhere. It reviews the relationship of the European Union with its different allies, like NATO, the African Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and others.

The second section reviews the activity and organisms of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), military operations and the different initiatives of the European Defence Agency.

In the third the links between several internal factors that affect the security of the Union are analysed, a paragraph focuses on the growing concern about cyber security, and finally tasks, objectives and the budget of different decentralised organisms of the Union are reviewed with specific functions related to security and defence.

In the publication, the need to strengthen the Union and relations between the countries that make it up is constantly stressed in order to be able to act as a power in the international panorama and address global phenomena that threaten security, not only in the Union, but also worldwide. According to the EUISS and the organs and institutions of the EU like the European Commission, internal and external cooperation is vital, both between the organs and countries of the Union and with the rest of the EU’s allies, in order to guarantee the continent’s continued security. The policy of cooperation and commitment has shown itself to be more effective than that of confrontation and isolation, and new initiatives are moving in this direction, as are the deployment of missions. Therefore, one of the main objectives is to continue working to strengthen relations between the several allies.

The trends of the representatives of the Union or of the governments of the countries that provide leadership has been to move towards, once again, unification in terms of security and defence. This was defended by Emmanuel Macron, in a conference at the Sorbonne, where he argued that the future of the EU involves having a common defence budget, a single performance policy and its own forces of intervention. Chancellor Angela Merkel also defended it, justifying that the European Union must have the necessary means to resolve its own conflicts and any uncertainties that may arise. Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, also expressed his wish to have a fully fledged European Defence Union by 2025.

The speeches of the different leaders, along with the promotion of a range of plans regarding security and defence, give us clues that help to understand the future of the European Union, and what future priorities will be. We will still have to wait some time, however, to see if these current aspirations will be convincing, not only for member states but also, and especially, allies like the United States, or simply end up being ruled out and unheeded.

To consult the yearbook:

https://www.iss.europa.eu/content/euiss-yearbook-european-security-2018

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