In the face of rising budget pressures, defense ministries across Europe are slashing spending and putting a strain on Europe’s ability to defend itself. This comes just as the United States, the traditional guarantor of European security, turns inward to deal with its own economic problems.
The challenge begs the question: how can NATO and EU member states intelligently cut defense spending, without putting European security at risk?
That is the topic of our latest theme week, “Security Despite Austerity”, for which we are currently soliciting articles. We invite all members of atlantic-community.org to submit a short opinion piece (500-700 words) examining how smaller, less expensive military forces can do more for European security in the coming years.
The goal of these articles, as with all op-eds published on atlantic-community.org, is to establish concrete recommendations that can lead to positive changes in policy. More than simply describing the problem, each article should take a critical look at the state of European defense policy and offer hard, constructive solutions on how to improve it. For more information on how to write a convincing op-ed, please see this helpful 10-step guide.
One prominent proposal for translating budget cuts into greater military efficiency is the idea of “pooling and sharing”, which some of your articles may address. To be clear, “pooling” refers to the agreement between two or more states on joint resources and forces, meaning certain parts of national forces can be combined with those of another country without any ally discarding individual capabilities. “Sharing” is the logical next step, and implies that states eliminate certain capabilities, specializing, instead, in their particular strengths and making these mutually available to all partner states.
We have devised five question sets to guide your thinking as you write your op-ed. The best articles will directly address one or more of the questions below:
- How can EU and NATO countries enhance military capabilities through targeted pooling and sharing of equipment? What are potential areas of specialization for which countries? Which countries should pool their resources, and which are the most likely to go to the next level and share capabilities?
- How can EU and NATO countries build the mutual trust necessary to pool and share military capabilities? How can pooling and sharing be made politically feasible?
- What are some lessons we can learn from previous cooperation initiatives? What are the best practices?
- How can NATO and the EU ease the process of defense cooperation? What incentives can NATO and the EU provide to states reluctant to integrate?
- Is pooling and sharing the only way to mitigate the impact of defense budget cuts on military capabilities? What other methods exist to make Europe’s defense agencies more efficient?
The most convincing member op-eds will be included in the “Security Despite Austerity” theme week, together with articles written by senior experts in the field of European security. The best policy recommendations will then be compiled in an Atlantic Memo addressing this topic.
For more information on Atlantic Memos, please see the overview here, while previous Atlantic Community theme weeks are available below:
- Nuclear Abolition: Now or Never?
- A New Course for Western Aid to Africa
- Taking the Temperature of Arctic Governance
For background information on European defense policy, please review the following literature:
- "Challenges for European Defense Budgets after the Economic Crisis", by Patrick Keller of the American Enterprise Institute
- "Surviving Austerity: The case for a new approach to EU military collaboration", by Tomas Valasek of the Centre for European Reform
Please email completed articles to Amrit Naresh at naresh(at)atlantic-community(dot)org by August 28, 2011, and feel free to direct any questions to the same address.
We appreciate your active participation, and look forward to receiving your opinion articles in the coming days!