Friday, September 22

The 27 agree on a force of 5,000 soldiers: “We are all convinced that Europe is in danger”

“Spend more and spend better on defense.” This is how Josep Borrell summarizes one of the main ambitions of the European strategic compass that the 27 agreed on Monday in Brussels, and that has to be adopted by the EU leaders at the summit on March 24-25. Among the key points of the 47 pages that mark the new European defense strategy, the creation of a rapid intervention force of 5,000 soldiers stands out.

The idea emerged with force after the fiasco of the fall of Kabul in record time, and the inability of the EU to evacuate its own personnel autonomously. And, nine months later, it has been taken over by the 27.

“It is a turning point in Europe”, said the High Representative for Cooperation and Security after the meeting with the EU foreign ministers: “Europe becomes a security provider for the European security and defense policy. It’s a powerful message at an important time. It is not a response to the war in Ukraine, but the timing is opportune.”

“A long time ago I said that Europe was in danger”, said Borrell, “but today we are all convinced that we are in danger, obviously, due to the invasion of Ukraine. It is not rhetorical, that invasion and war is a tectonic change in Europe. Our reaction is that we in the EU can act firmly and united.

“Today, military spending in Europe, from all the member states combined, is around 200 billion euros, 1.5% of GDP. It was going down fast until 2014 and since then it started to go up. But we have to invest more. If we want to drive innovation in defense and be better able to deal with situations like the one in Ukraine, we need capabilities. And 1.5% of GDP is not enough”, affirms the head of European diplomacy: “The threats are rising and the cost of inaction is clear. The strategic compass is a guide to action. It sets out an ambitious path forward for our security and defense policy over the next decade. It will help us meet our security responsibilities to our citizens and to the rest of the world. If not now, then when?

Borrell has stated: “We do not want a European Army. It is not about creating a European Army. Each Member State will continue to have its Army. But we have to work together more closely, we have to coordinate better and be able to react. We are not a military Union, we are not a military alliance. But we want to play a role in providing European citizens with more security in a troubled and dangerous world.”