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Moving towards autonomy of military capability in the European Union

Editor : Fondation Robert Schuman
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The progress achieved over the last few years by the European Union in defining a common defence structure provides a striking contrast with the crisis that is presently afflicting other elements of European construction. Having announced its will to provide itself with the "ability to act autonomously with the support of credible military forces" in December 1999, the European Union has since launched the first and then the second "headline goal" defining quite precisely common military abilities; this has encouraged the consolidation and enhancement of its defence industries and undertaken to integrate its civil and military means into the framework of increasingly demanding external intervention assignments. The European Security and Defence Policy led to the creation of the European Defence Agency in 2004. When the Conduct Code becomes applicable on 1st July 2006, this Agency is to play a decisive role in the continued enhancement of the European Union military abilities both on an industrial and technological level.

The 33rd Note by the Robert Schuman Foundation explores the ongoing developments and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of "European Defence". This essay by Edouard Pflimlin notably stresses the lack of budgetary means granted by EU Member States to achieve the goals they have set and pleads in favour of an increase in funding over the next few years. He also endeavours to show the need for greater integration of Member States' defence policies. It will only be possible to reduce the number of duplications and increase investments in research and innovation by continuing the procedure of integration thereby leading to complete interoperability on the part of European forces; this will notably be achieved by increased specialisation of a certain number of countries in specific domains of military capability.

Within a particularly uncertain European and international context the achievement of the goals set by the European Union with regard to defence will also enable the achievement of two objectives: the increase in security of European citizens in the face of new threats and the provision of an institutional and political model to boost the European project as a whole.
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Edouard Pflimlin
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