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.