No debate about CSDP in 2011 can ignore the financial crisis which has had led to a wave of Defence budget cuts across the EU. This has resulted in both the increased focus on pooling and sharing of military capabilities and; in the current staff shortfalls we are experiencing in important CSDP missions and operations. The demand for the EU to do more and better is getting stronger. We need to be able to respond to the complex threats of today (violent crises, cyber-threats, energy security), and assume our global responsibilities whilst showing real value for money.
To deliver value for money we need CSDP action to be based on coherent and effective strategies, a truly comprehensive approach and, equipped with the right capabilities – as restated by FAC on 1 Dec.
The budgetary constraints force us to save, but they are also a driver of closer collaboration. Whether on “pooling and sharing” of defence assets, “joint programming” of development aid, or solidarity in the evacuation of European nationals from scenes of conflict or disaster, the message is clear: doing better with less.
The 1 December FAC endorsed my call to maximise synergies and strengthen cooperation - complementing instead of duplicating each other. I am committed to ensuring that the actions by the EEAS, the Commission and the EU Member States reinforce rather than compete with each other.
At the 1 December FAC we also agreed that the EU needs to improve its CSDP operations by more clearly identifying needs and acting with clear objectives and exit strategies.
The EP, alongside national parliaments and governments, plays an important role in ensuring the democratic oversight of EU foreign, security and defence policy, as recognised in my Declaration on political accountability.
I’d like to focus on some important achievements of the last year :
At the level of structures, the EEAS has been established and is now equipped to deal with crises better, faster and smarter.
When the EEAS was launched in January 2011, the Arab spring required our immediate response. In light of this experience, we have set up the Crisis Management Board and Crisis Platform which also dealt effectively with crisis situations in Ivory Coast, Libya and Horn of Africa. These structures are central to our capacity to respond, and maintain their direct reporting line to myself while working closely with the rest of the service.
We have also improved the early warning capacity through the Situation Room and the Conflict Prevention Group. We are currently exploring how to strengthen the security policy expertise in EU Delegations.
All of this has been achieved using and restructuring the existing resources and improving their flexibility and efficiency rather than by seeking expensive and complex solutions.
We are turning comprehensive approach into comprehensive action. The EEAS is uniquely placed for this. We can join up all EU instruments and cover conflict prevention, development and conflict resolution. We are putting this to full use in the Horn of Africa and in Southern Neighbourhood.
Some have said we are facing “CSDP Fatigue” yet 2011 has been a year of intensive work on CSDP with concrete results and ending with comprehensive, forward-looking Council conclusions.
On military capabilities, the 30 November EDA Steering Board delivered concrete Member States' commitments in specific projects, including in areas where the Libya crisis showed our shortfalls.
This is a good first step towards more substantial achievements next spring, also in view of the NATO Chicago summit.
As indicated by the Lisek Report, there is no alternative to cooperation in this area. Multinational cooperation must become the rule rather than the exception, in order to preserve and develop Europe's defence capabilities. I agree with MEP Lisek that Pooling & Sharing is a means of delivering enhanced capabilities and of offsetting defence budget cuts. As the Head of the European Defence Agency, I will continue to make every effort to facilitate cooperation among and between Member States and to increase the global competitiveness and efficiency of the European defence industry.
In July I presented a comprehensive report on CSDP. It set out the parameters for further work on CSDP, both in terms of “hardware” (military and civilian capabilities) and “software” (how we plan and conduct operations, engage with partners). The FAC on 1 December welcomed my work to strengthen the CSDP.
Member States' initiatives, such as the "Weimar initiative" and subsequent contributions have provided an added impetus to work.
I am pleased we found a pragmatic way forward on the issue of planning and conduct of CSDP operations. We are now beginning planning for the activation of the Operations Centre for the Horn of Africa operations, by the next Foreign Affairs Council In January. This will allow us to test this tool, with a view to strengthening civilian-military synergies, and to draw lessons for the future.
We have also achieved a lot of progress in working with our partners.
In the area of security and defence, the relationship with NATO is essential. It is recognized in the Lisbon Treaty, which is the first of the EU Treaties to explicitly refer to NATO. The breadth of EU instruments can be usefully combined with the depth of NATO's role on defence. The two organisations can and should reinforce each other's work. I have worked hard to establish a good, close working relationship with NATO SG Rasmussen to bring EU and NATO closer through a pragmatic step-by-step approach, while maintaining the overall objective of a true organisation-toorganisation relationship.
The Libya crisis again showed clear need for this. We work hand in hand in many theatres, and we owe it to our people in the field. I am also pleased to confirm that on capabilities in particular - whether labelled pooling and sharing or smart defence - we now have achieved an unprecedented level of cooperation.
The UN remains a longstanding partner, and we are turning this partnership into reality: in theatres where both are or could be engaged (Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo, Libya) and through strategic dialogue.
I have also personally engaged on security and defence with our strategic partners, not least regarding strategic theatres (Horn of Africa, Libya). I signed a framework agreement with the US in June on their participation in CSDP civilian missions (already 60 Americans under EU chain of command in Kosovo and Afghanistan). I also want to foster closer cooperation with other partner countries, including contributors and the neighbours to the South and the East.
I would like to end my remarks with the possible way ahead.
We have to further operationalise the comprehensive approach, by better linking our conflict prevention, mediation, development and conflict resolution activities. CSDP has a vital role to play in addressing forms of organised crime, such as trafficking of drugs, weapons and human beings. These are directly linked to conflict. For example, the security threats in Sahel also relate to the influx of weapons and militias as a result of developments in Libya. On this the combination of all EU tools in a coherent strategy is essential.
We have to pay constant attention to force generation and capabilities.
The Council undertook to make every effort to address this challenge. I will examine innovative ways to improve force generation in order to make proposals in the first half of 2012.
Work on military capabilities should continue towards a systematic Pooling & Sharing, not only as an answer to financial constraints but also as means of enhanced operational effectiveness in the long term.
We also have to. enhance the effectiveness of missions and operations The EU should act through CSDP missions and operations to add value, on the basis of identified needs, with clear objectives and exit strategies to deliver and sustain results.
As long as we can deliver on the existing missions, I am ready to take work forward on possible new CSDP missions – in particular in regions of such strategic importance to Europe’s security as such as Sahel and Libya.
CSDP can only be as effective and ambitious as we let it be. It relies on collective political will and ambition to act. It also means that the CFSP budget should be able to respond to the financial aspects of force generation. The European Parliament support in the last months has been essential on this, and I would like to take this opportunity express you my gratitude. I would like to close my intervention by thanking you for your support on my work on CSDP, to reconfirm my continued commitment to CSDP as integral and indispensable part of EU external action.