You also want a European Commissioner for defence and more regular meetings of defence ministers.
Yes, for me that would be only logical. We currently have 28 Commissioners and if you look at the responsibilities of each of them, you will see that they are very different in size. High Representative and Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini has in her responsibility the full world as well as defence and security issues. At the same time, other Commissioners have portfolios with less substance. It’s time to redistribute the portfolios and with defence and security becoming an ever bigger and bigger topic, I certainly believe that there is a case for having a dedicated Commissioner for Defence and Security. In addition to that, European defence ministers also need to meet in Defence Councils much more often because one of the core aspects of increased defence cooperation is trust between countries and the people who deal with it. This trust can only develop if people meet regularly. Change is also needed in the European Parliament. It’s now time to upgrade the subcommittee on defence and security (SEDE) into a fully-fledged parliamentary committee of the EP.
In your report, you encourage EDA Member States to establish a ‘common European capabilities and armaments policy’. What exactly should such a policy encompass?
Ideally, it could mean that there is a clear overview made of what the different Member States have in terms of military capabilities and what their plans and needs are. A second step could then be that they draw conclusions from that overview for future cooperations. It would make sense because there is no point in having each Member State develop and invest in all areas of defence capabilities because this is very expensive. It would be much more adequate if Member States could conclude agreements about which country concentrates on what sort of capability. Of course, we need a lot of trust for this and also adequate plans. We would then also need plans to make sure that these capabilities are made available to everyone in case of crises. This could and should be the objective (…) The EDA should promote this by proposing very concrete and practical examples, proposals and business cases, within the existing legal framework. As long as there is no general defence leadership in the EU, the EDA should pro-actively promote defence cooperation by putting on the table very concrete and practical steps.
‘The EDA still needs to be harnessed to develop its full potential’ is also stated in your report. Which specific areas or topics are you thinking about?
There are several areas where concrete proposals are needed. Hybrid warfare or cooperation with NATO on cyber defence, for example, are two of them. The EDA should not be hesitant or afraid, nor should it always wait for the political will to be fully existent in the capitals. I think that the time has come for the professionals, the very few professionals on defence we actually have in the EU, to bring in their full potential. The EDA can contribute a lot in this respect, especially at this moment in time.