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Strengthening Europe's Ability to Act

Andreas Schockenhoff and Roderich Kiesewetter, Members of the German Bundestag | July 2012

The Euro crisis has been all consuming; German politicians have put all other policy priorities to the side. However, two members of the German parliament have stepped forward into this policy vacuum, and therefore their ideas are highlighted here in the Best of Think Tanks.

In a concise nine-page paper, Dr. Andreas Schockenhoff and Roderich Kiesewetter offer concrete proposals for strengthening the EU's Common Security and Defense Policy as well as German security policy.

The authors write at the very beginning:

"Europe needs its own strong and credible security and defense policy. The only way this can be achieved is if there is the political will to establish greater European commonality. In the absence of this, Europe will lack a key dimension of what it needs to assert itself in the globalized world. Given the financial constraints under which all European countries are operating, however, this ability to take effective action in the realm of security policy can only be guaranteed through closer cooperation. No EU Member State even now has the finances on its own to maintain the full spectrum of military and civilian capabilities. The NATO summit in Chicago reinforced this urgent need for action."

Their considerations are based on three premises:

  • Europe is not and will not be able to guarantee its own security without the support of the United States; meanwhile, the US is pivoting toward Asia.
  • Therefore, Europe's efforts should be directed at ensuring that their contributions make Europeans once again relevant partners to Washington
  • All European states must be prepared to share the risks and burden between themselves

With these considerations in mind, Europe must come to a consensus with regards to:

  • Prioritizing the tasks that must be tackled and the corresponding armed forces planning that comes with such prioritization;
  • Defining the geographical areas where Europe wishes to act; and
  • Further developing Europe's comprehensive 'toolkit' to deal with today's problems.

The two authors emphasize that the pooling and sharing of defense resources is essential, be it within the framework of NATO or the EU. As part of this effort, the European arms and security industry should be encouraged "to establish a deliberate mutual dependency which leaves no place for national strivings for autonomy and predatory competition."

Dr. Schockenhoff and Kiesewetter make concrete suggestions for German policy that seek to regain Germany's lost credibility; after abstaining from military intervention in Libya, some "partners in NATO and the CSDP have doubts about whether they can count on Germany in hard power conflicts."

For example, the Bundestag should initiate regular security debates to identify the goals of Germany security policy. The authors even go so far as to say that Europe can only control its own security when member states give up some national sovereignty. The German government should be willing to develop a concept for joint European defense planning.

This would entail the Bundestag losing its relatively large decision-making role compared to other countries. "Such a move, however, would send out a clear signal to our partners and help convince them of our intention to make the German decision-making system more flexible."

To read the entire piece, download the paper here.

Dr. Andreas Schockenhoff is deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag. Roderich Kiesewetter, a retired Colonel, is spokesman on disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation in the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag and president of the German Armed Forces Reservists' Association.



Tags: | Libya | Military | Defense Policy | Germany | Europe | EU | US |
Unregistered User

Tue, Jul 24th 2012, 14:49

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Nice to read from people who feel informed enough to freely put their views across. This is a paper with stimulating ingredients for the European (unity) project. In it, the writers have also done well: they are aware of the limitation history of Germany imposes in a world that forgets quickly and remembers quickly also. That dilemma played out itself in cited case of Libya and NATO's role (backed, of-course, by then UN resolutions).

European (unity) project is a strong reason for the sense most might like to make of words like "POLITICAL WILL". Because of the ongoing "debt crisis", economic lull and its effect on the EURO-zone: Union-member countries), both words have been heard-spoken-of, and written about more or less repeatedly. It is not flattering therefore, but rather stimulating to see same words form parts of opinions of these writers. It does well announce 'rethinking' the project along paths of 'FEDERALISM'. We have read many such before also!

That is neither stressing nor unreal in project terms. Reason. Projects, depending on many circumstances are either 'long-term' or 'short-term'. For federalism, the former might be at the center for the "rooms" needed to "meander": strengthen democracy, understand rationality of size arguments of countries involved, communal economic principle marked by acceptable level of discipline, progress and welfare culture... hence rationality for trust, deligation of sovereignty at more workable level: that federal constitution, and laws at that level parallel to individual state levels run not into conflict to instead frustrate the real solid grounds needed. That is simply why the project is preferably a long-term one.

The challenge now, more-so, in difficult times like this, is how to effectively meander all the corners. Federalism at this level is not any easy a thing. Not even for the US or examples found elsewhere. Yet it is quite logical to see and accept that European Defense might then develop a character: one not likely to be unfriendly to Washington or elsewhere. If as we see, even NATO strives for peace too, it is clear that we have no option, with whatever the economic and investment opportunities are, than to tame ourselves, our development and open-up for peace. American expansion to ASIA is in my opinion over-dimensioned in recent discourses. Well stated: "Europe's efforts should be directed at ensuring that their contributions make Europeans once again relevant partners to Washington". Let us hope Europe will team-up against financial and political odds and in that way see Washington a positive not negative stimuli. Thanks for this fine article!

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