Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer met her EU counterparts in Berlin for an informal meeting. What are Germany's goals in the field of security and defence during its Council Presidency? Does Europe still need NATO? Questions and answers.
Why do we need European security policy?
EU member states can only respond appropriately to external crises and conflicts if they cooperate. That makes Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) indispensable for a strong Europe in the world. The CSDP pools the forces of EU member states, strengthens the capacities of partners, eliminates unnecessary duplication of structures and ensures peace and stability throughout the EU.
To put it succinctly - the CSDP provides great security for EU member states at a lower cost.
What goals has Germany set in the field of European security and defence policy for its Presidency of the Council of the EU?
Together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Germany is focusing on making the EU more resilient and better able to take action in the field of security and defence policy. One important goal of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU is to push ahead with what is known as the Strategic Compass. The Compass indicates the direction for future EU actions in the security and defence sector. It is to define who and what poses a risk to Europe, which must defend itself accordingly. It also lays out the steps that are needed to protect the Union and its people from future threats and challenges. Should a security crisis arise, the EU will be able to act more swiftly thanks to the strategies laid out in the Compass. On the basis of these strategic directives, it can also be deduced which specific instruments and skills the EU needs.
What have the EU defence ministers achieved to date?
In European security and defence, a number of joint initiatives are already in place, including the EU Battlegroups and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). When they last met in Brussels on 12 November 2019, the EU defence ministers launched other important projects to strengthen Europe’s ability to defend itself. PESCO, for instance, now embraces 46 projects, six of which are currently being coordinated by Germany. They cover a wide spectrum of activities, from developing underwater drones to maritime mine countermeasures, developing a European Medical Command and cyber defence.
In view of the Common Security and Defence Policy, does the EU actually still need NATO?
Europe still depends on NATO, which is and will remain a vital pillar in the defence of our country and our alliance. Germany, and indeed the whole of Europe, owes its prosperity to the protection afforded by the alliance. Yet, at the same time, we here in Germany and our partners in Europe are going to have to shoulder more responsibility in the future for our own defence. We aim to strengthen the European pillar within NATO so that the EU can also act independently within the framework of NATO.
On 26 August, German Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell hosted an Informal Meeting of EU Defence Ministers in Berlin. Talks focused on how to strengthen the ability of the EU to take action in the field of security and defence.