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Questions and Answers: New Action Plan on Military Mobility

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 9 november 2022.
  • Why a new Action Plan on Military Mobility?

We build on the work carried out under the 2018 Action Plan while broadening the scope and range of actions into new areas. The title “2.0” highlights that we are aiming for a system upgrade, with new activities in addition to existing ones.

In the last joint annual progress report on the implementation of the Action Plan on Military Mobility from September 2021, we announced the update of the Action Plan and the introduction of further areas of work as many of its actions had been accomplished.

Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine confirmed the urgent need to reinforce Military Mobility. This is also reflected in the Strategic Compass adopted by the Council in March 2022 and in the Joint Communication on the Defence Investment Gap Analysis from May 2022.

  • What is the added value of the Action Plan on Military Mobility 2.0?

The Action Plan aims to ensure the swift and seamless movement of military troops and their equipment - at short notice and at large scale - enabling them to react quickly to emerging threats at our external borders and beyond.

It broadens the scope of Military Mobility and defines new areas for further actions, addressing the threats and challenges stemming from the new security environment after Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

  • What are the new elements of the Action Plan?

The Action Plan adds two new pillars: one pillar on resilience and preparedness and a second pillar on partnerships. In addition, it will reinforce the two already existing pillars by improving infrastructural and regulatory aspects.

In particular, the Action Plan will focus on:

  • Improving dual-use transport infrastructures;
  • Updating military requirement including fuel supply chain requirements for military transport;
  • Digitalisation of administrative processes;
  • Development of strategic lift capabilities, in line with the Coordinated Annual Report on Defence (CARD) report of November 2020;
  • Protection against cyber-attacks and other hybrid threats, as well as addressing risks linked to Foreign Direct Investment in critical infrastructure;
  • Enhanced climate resilience and energy security as well as addressing other security risks in the transport sector.

These are some of the new actions included in the new Action Plan:

  • The Commission, together with the EEAS, will carry out an analysis on how the physical EU military transport network meets the military requirements, in consultation with NATO as appropriate. The objective is to prioritise dual-use infrastructure development and funding at the EU level and to ensure the resilience of transport networks.
  • The European Defence Fund intends to finance a consortium developing a new system for military mobility that will be an important contribution to speeding up the timelines by digitalsing administrative processes.
  • The new Action Plan addresses the development of strategic lift capabilities in line with the CARD report to ensure that Member States enhance the mobility, deployability and sustainability of the armed forces. In particular, it will address shortfalls for strategic enablers, including lift capabilities (both air and sea lift) required for an effective movement of large-scale forces and for strategic transport capacities in the critical area of outsized or specialised cargo.
  • The new Action Plan puts stronger emphasis on carrying out military exercises to identify remaining hurdles and bottlenecks, including as part of the ‘live exercises' proposed in the context of the Rapid Deployment Capacity.
  • Further new actions shall enhance synergies, cooperation and coordination between defence actors and the civilian sector with a view to managing the surge in demand for transport assets in crisis situations.
  • In addition to the EU-NATO cooperation, the new partnerships pillar introduces proposals for an enhanced dialogue and dual-use connectivity with regional partners such as Ukraine and Moldova, sharing best practices with the Western Balkans partners and stepping up cooperation with the US, Canada and Norway.
  • What has been accomplished since the first Military Mobility Action Plan was launched in 2018?

To take stock of progress made in the implementation of the 2018 Action Plan, the European Commission and the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have undertaken yearly Joint Reports (in 2019, 2020 and 2021). These Reports are presented in complementarity with the European Defence Agency's Annual Progress Report on Military Mobility.

The 2018 Action Plan has been implemented in full:

  • In August 2021, the first Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Work Programme for 2021-2023 and the Implementing Regulation on the dual-use requirements for these projects were adopted. Following Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the Commission advanced timelines for project pipeline and frontloaded the multi-annual budget (1.69 billion euro for dual-use transport infrastructure projects under CEF 2021-2027).
  • Regulatory and procedural issues were addressed as well: The customs formalities for cross-border military movements were simplified by introducing a guidance note for the use of EU form 302; transport of dangerous goods in the military domain was harmonised; a new directive provides for a VAT and excise exemption for military activities within the EU framework; twenty-five participating Member States, as well as Norway have joined the European Defence Agency Programme on “Optimising Cross-border Movement Permission procedures in Europe”.
  • In addition, under the European Defence Fund, the Commission will provide €9 million to support the development of a Secure Digital Military Mobility System (SDMMS), that will facilitate direct and secure exchange of information between governments requesting and approving any military movement. The digital system is supposed to be available by mid-2025.
  • In the framework of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Member States have launched different collaborative projects. The project on Military Mobility brings together twenty-five Member States and third countries to coordinate relevant national measures, including those agreed by the Member States in the so-called ‘military mobility pledge' of 25 June 2018. The project on Logistical Hubs involves 17 Member States working together to connect their logistical depots and capabilities to reduce reaction time and optimise the use of capacities.
  • Will the Action Plan also cover EU-NATO cooperation?

Both organisations have a shared interest in promoting military mobility and have different tools and instruments at their disposal.

A Structured Dialogue between EU and NATO staff on military mobility is already in place to ensure a coherent approach and synergies between the EU and NATO.

The new Action Plan will further strengthen and intensify EU-NATO cooperation on military mobility. For instance, we will work closely with NATO on the fuel supply chain requirements for military transport.

Cooperation is based on the principles of openness, transparency, reciprocity, and inclusiveness. It will ensure a stronger and more credible European pillar in NATO.

  • Will there be additional funds made available for dual-use projects because of the war in Ukraine?

Under the second CEF call for proposals, we will use the flexibility of the budget that we have allocated in the multi-annual work programme to support as many projects as possible. Especially given the geopolitical situation right now. We received 63 project submissions requesting more than €1 billion in funding. We will announce which projects have been selected in December 2022.

We will also look into further increasing the current €1.6 billion CEF military mobility budget when we carry out the midterm review of the multiannual financial framework.

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