The adoption of the ESS in 2003 identified several security threats that the EU would have to work in unison to remedy. Terrorism, the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, regional conflicts, state failure and organised crime all formed part of a security ‘to do list' which would be tackled through multilateral cooperation with key partners such as the US and exerting greater influence in its own neighbourhood.
To its credit, the ESS has helped foster increased cooperation between the different policy ‘pillars' of the EU, and it has also helped orientate and frame the objectives of a number of EU external actions. It was instrumental, for example, in ensuring the deployment of a number of European Security and Defence Policy missions to places such as Africa.
However, while any revision should continue concentrating issues such as terrorism it should go further in others. Climate change, for example, will increase the future number of displaced persons and violent conflicts over landownership and resources. Accordingly, a revised ESS must specify the resources needed by the EU to respond to crises such as improved ‘early warning systems'.
A revised ESS should also incorporate ‘energy security' by outlining an action plan to develop alternative ‘greener' fuels (e.g. solar and tidal power) that can be produced within the EU. This would lower the EU's current energy import rate of 50%, lower energy prices for consumers, lower greenhouse emissions and ensure that the EU is not dependent on the uncertainty and conditionality of energy supplies from places like Russia or the Middle-East.
‘Human security' must also be included in any revision. Indeed, after the adoption by all EU member states of the ‘Responsibility-to-Protect' principle in 2005 - mandating intervention in states unwilling or unable to halt crimes against humanity - human security should be enshrined in a revised ESS.
More also needs to be done to combat ‘cyber crime'. Indeed, with recent reports suggesting the Chinese had hacked into a number of European government computer systems, a revised Strategy must stress the importance of greater investment into research and development in the security and defence sector and the need for EU member states to increasingly pool intelligence in detecting possible attacks.
Finally, a revised ESS would identify the EU's actual military needs relative to its security policy ambitions. Indeed, while the present Strategy recognises the need to develop military capabilities under the ESDP, it needs to go beyond a list of ‘intentions' and ‘successes' and state clearly the types and numbers of personnel and equipment needed to be able to implement, and if necessary enforce, the EU's strategic goals.
Concluding, any revision must serve first and foremost as a ‘security road map', as a reference guide with concrete goals for the EU, and not just a catalogue of intentions. Indeed, it would continue to highlight and refine the security challenges posed in the current Strategy but extend this to cover the threats posed by climate change, energy security, human security, cyber crime and incoherent military capabilities.
Daniel Fiott is an independent journalist based in Brussels.
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