This mini blog of Marietje Schaake appeared on Carnegie Europe as one of several answers to the question 'Does the EU Need Its Own Army?'. By Judy Dempsey, on March 11.
Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world. Marietje Schaake, Vice chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the United States and substitute member of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee The current debate about European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s recent idea to create an EU army risks becoming bogged down in semantics. The real debate Europeans should be having is not whether the EU should have an army but when European states will finally start intensifying their defense cooperation. A new report by former EU high representative Javier Solana and former NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on the creation of a European Defense Union offers concrete steps forward. Many studies list concrete efficiency gains to be made from initiatives such as pooled procurement or shared defense planning. It is high time for political leadership on these issues, otherwise the EU risks becoming an irrelevant player on the global stage. Increased defense cooperation should be accompanied by two additional measures. First, the European Parliament Subcommittee on Security and Defense should have a strong voice and access to all relevant information. It should cooperate with national parliaments to guarantee the balance of powers that is fundamental in any democracy. Second, given the changing nature of conflict, pooled procurement might involve the development or acquisition of cyberdefense weapons. A number of key concepts in this new field need to be clarified before any common initiative could be undertaken. In this relatively new field, the EU needs to get it right from the start.