Home stretch for EU military strategy – EURACTIV.com

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In this week’s edition: The EU’s strategic compass must be approved this week, the preview of the summit and Ukraine at the latest.


Putin’s war on Europe’s doorstep has proven to be the single most important catalyst for advancing Europe’s forthcoming military strategy white paper, the Strategic Compass.

EU foreign and defense ministers are expected to give the green light to the draft on Monday (21 March) before it lands on the EU leaders’ table for final approval by the end of next week.

Ironically, US President Joe Biden will be in town to witness a watershed moment in the shaping of European defense sovereignty, after years of back and forth between the two sides of the Atlantic on all aspects of responsibility for Europe’s security.

The draft text, at this stage already revised five times by member states, includes language that would have been considered totally inconceivable just two years ago.

“The return to war in Europe, with Russia’s unprovoked and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, as well as major geopolitical changes challenge our ability to promote our vision and defend our interests,” he said. one of the latest versions of the master plan.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused a major rewrite of the document, with the security threat of aggression from Moscow becoming the leitmotiv of the latest versions of the document.

the initial draft has been criticized for the lack of clarity that Moscow’s threats include military threats, militarization of energy supplies and hybrid attacks.

Next, Eastern European member states argued that for the EU to become a geopolitical heavyweight, it must play a security role not only in Africa, but even more so in its eastern neighborhood. As a result, and due to the escalation of tensions, the EU has dedicated stronger support, including security and defense measures, for its eastern partners.

Over the past week, the document has seen some last-minute, but significant changes, mostly related to policy messages and investments.

After the last EU summit in Paris, the strategic plan should now “contribute directly to the implementation of the Versailles agenda”.

In Versailles, EU leaders announced their intention to “invest more and better in defense capabilities and innovative technologies” by dramatically increasing defense spending and strengthening cooperation and coordination in a statement describing the Russian war as “a tectonic shift in European history”.

An annual report on the progress of the bloc’s defense developments will serve as the basis for an annual summit, intended to provide geopolitical guidance, the latest version of the text says.

It also adds a specific reference to the European Commission current proposal on value added tax (VAT) exemption to support “joint purchases” of defense equipment produced in Europe, which will probably be presented in spring 2023.

The latest draft also reinforces the EU’s mutual defense commitments to its “neutral” member states that are part of the EU, but not NATO: Finland, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta.

In addition, the draft will reinforce the text’s reference to Article 42.7 of the EU Treaty, which provides for a mutual assistance clause in the event of aggression against one of the bloc’s members.

Although NATO is designated as the cornerstone of European security, EU member states are ready to commit themselves to help the victims by all means:

“The EU’s determination to respond to armed aggression against one of its Member States in accordance with Article 42(7) of the Treaty on European Union must not be called into question”.

Moreover, “strategic autonomy” is also seeing a comeback, with a whole extra paragraph referring to the goal of making the EU “a stronger and more capable security provider”.

But the main national sticking points remain.

Eastern Europeans have argued that NATO’s role should be strengthened in the text, “while many points we raised have not been taken into account”, an EU diplomat said. EU.

Meanwhile, Greece and Cyprus were not happy with weak language on Turkey compared to what had been agreed in the past by EU leaders in terms of condemning Ankara’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean.

However, this is unlikely to impact the timing of the plan’s approval later next week.


THE EU IN THE WORLD

SUMMIT OF UKRAINE | We look to a big summit next week in Brussels. US President Joe Biden will make his first visit to Europe since invading Ukraine to discuss face-to-face with Europeans how to handle Russia’s war on Ukraine.

With NATO allies on Thursday morning, there will be discussions on more details on support for Ukraine and NATO deterrence and defense. NATO defense ministers laid the groundwork by instructing the alliance’s military commanders to draw up plans for new troops and missile defenses in Eastern Europe earlier this week.

It will be followed by a G7 meeting announced by the current president, Germany.

Later in the evening, EU leaders will host Biden for more talks on Ukraine and the West’s economic response to the ongoing Russian invasion and to offer humanitarian support to war victims. Expect sanctions to be the elephant in the room, as EU member states are divided on how far the EU should go to further penalize Moscow.

According to EU diplomats, there is not too much appetite to move quickly with a fifth sanctions package that could potentially include painful energy options.

“Instead of taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach, we should go ahead with the fifth sanctions package,” senior EU diplomat tells reporters, urging inclusion of Sberbank and Gazprombank in system sanctions SWIFT payment system and to adopt punitive energy measures. .

Eastern Europeans are ready to hit Russian oil, gas and coal and have repeatedly warned that ‘sanctions fatigue’ could tempt Putin to go even further, while Germany leads the camp. reluctant. Southern Europeans, for their part, are thinking about reforming the energy market.


UKRAINE LAST

  • Moscow claims the use of hypersonic missiles, kyiv asks Beijing to condemn “barbarism”. Ukraine has called on China to join the West in condemning ‘Russian barbarism’ as Moscow claims it hit a Ukrainian arms depot with hypersonic missiles in what would be the first combat use new generation weapons.
  • Former Ukrainian Prime Minister: Eight years of Franco-German diplomacy have been a complete failure. Paris and Berlin must recognize that the eight years of diplomacy they conducted with Moscow only led to an escalation and ultimately to the current war, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told EURACTIV earlier this week. .
  • Dispatch from the Slovak border: “We don’t understand why Putin is doing this to us”. As war rages in neighboring Ukraine, Slovakia faces the biggest refugee crisis in its history, but the welcoming response from its people and government stands in stark contrast to the last migration crisis in 2015.
  • European politicians are trying to nominate Ukrainian Zelensky for the Nobel Peace Prize. A group of European politicians wrote to the Nobel Committee with an initiative to extend the procedure to allow the nomination of Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people for the Nobel Peace Prize.

→ Read all of our latest Ukraine coverage here.


WHAT ELSE WE READ

ON OUR RADAR FOR THE NEXT DAYS…

  • NATO Exercise Cold Response 2022, military exercise in the Arctic
    | March 10 – April 10, 2022 | norwegian arctic
  • EU Foreign and Defense Ministers meet on Ukraine, Strategic Compass, joined virtually by Ukrainian Defense Minister
    | Monday, March 21, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • European Parliament AFET Committee meets on Moldova, North Macedonia and the Gulf
    | Mon-Tues, March 21-22, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons hold their first meeting
    | Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | Vienna, Austria
  • Verdict expected in the corruption trial of opponent Alexei Navalny
    | Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | Pokrov, Russia
  • European Affairs Minister meets to prepare EU summit
    | Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the National Assembly
    | Wednesday March 23, 2022 | Paris, France
  • The European Commission presents a roadmap for EU food security following the war in Ukraine
    | Wednesday March 23, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • Extraordinary NATO Summit on Ukraine
    | Thursday, March 24, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • G7 meeting on Russian invasion of Ukraine
    | Thursday, March 24, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • EU summit on Ukraine, strategic compass, energy
    | Thursday, March 24, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium

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Mary I. Bruner