The EU prepares key guides for its defense and space postures during the French Presidency
STUTTGART, Germany — Defense leaders from France and the European Union have an ambitious schedule to develop the bloc’s key military strategy and space documents while Paris leads the EU Council for the next six months.
Defense ministers met this week in Brest, at the western tip of France, to advance an upcoming proposal dubbed the “strategic compass”. The meetings focused on high-level security priorities for the Union, including the space domain and Ukraine, two leaders said at a press briefing on Thursday.
This week marked the first meeting of defense ministers since France assumed its six-monthly presidency of the EU Council, noted Josep Borrell, the Union’s head of foreign affairs and security policy.
Alternating between French and English throughout the in-person and virtual press conference, Borrell said the EU’s “Strategic Compass” document – which has been described as the bloc’s first defense white paper – would be released in March.
It should present a coherent strategic vision for EU security and defense until 2030, addressing investments in innovation, supply chain and logistics issues, and the promotion of mechanisms such as cooperation Permanent Structured Fund (CSP) and the European Defense Fund (EDF). The hope is that this will bring military and defense investments closer to individual nations to minimize fragmentation, inefficiencies and duplication.
The finalization of this document is “the number one priority” for France during its presidency of the Council of the EU, and will help the EU to become “master of its destiny” in the field of defense and security, has declared the French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly.
“This compass will enable…a Europe that is fully capable of protecting its citizens, that does not submit to the appetites and priorities of others, and that is able to defend its interests by speaking with one voice,” she said. .
Space sovereignty and security will be an important topic for the EU in the future, and the French will make a “very important contribution” to this goal, Borrell said. Defense leaders agreed to develop an EU-centric space strategy to be completed next year, and launched initial talks at their meeting in Brest, he added.
In March, France will host the second iteration of a new space exercise dubbed ASTerX in Toulouse, Parly noted. “It will give us the opportunity to come together again to reflect on how we should think about this European defensive space strategy,” she said.
Under its presidency of the Council of the EU, Paris will also plan a new maritime exercise, which will take place this year in the northwest Indian Ocean, drawing on its experience in conducting maritime policy between nations. of the Gulf of Guinea. “There is a need to develop a more globally coordinated maritime presence,” Parly said. France also plans to publish a new “seabed warfare strategy” in 2022, she added.
Aligned with Ukraine
The European Union has been following the escalation between Russia and Western countries over Ukraine, Borrell noted. The head of European diplomacy visited the Donbass region last week in the first visit by a senior EU official to the region since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, did he declare.
There have been “more than 100 contacts” between American and European officials on the subject “at all levels”, he added. While the ongoing dialogue with Russia over the situation in Ukraine “is a must”, Borrell stressed that the bloc’s position “remains the same”.
“Any further aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and significant costs for Russia,” he said. The EU has allocated 30 million euros ($35 million) to boost Ukraine’s “ballistic” capabilities and will prepare a new mission to help the country counter potential cyberattacks, he noted.
Vivienne Machi is a journalist based in Stuttgart, Germany, who contributes to Defense News’ European coverage. She previously worked for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defense Media Awards’ Best Young Defense Journalist in 2020.