Military movement and transport received an important boost today through the Joint Communication of the European Commission and the High Representative on Improving Military Mobility in the European Union. The Joint Communication identifies areas in which the EU will work to facilitate and help expedite military mobility. The European Defence Agency (EDA) set up a dedicated Ad Hoc Working Group in September to support the elaboration of a follow-on Action Plan on Military Mobility by spring 2018.
The Joint Communication adopted today outlines steps to be taken to address the obstacles that hamper movement of military equipment and personnel across the EU with the aim of facilitating and expediting their mobility.
“Defence forces depend on the ability to move quickly. Physical, legal and regulatory barriers can lead to delays, disruptions, higher costs and vulnerability. Successful EDA projects such as the EU Multimodal Transport Hub and the Diplomatic Clearances initiative for military air transport demonstrate the advantages of a coordinated European approach to military movement. However, these are patchwork solutions. What is missing is a consistent approach allowing military personnel and equipment to cross borders swiftly and smoothly. The EDA’s existing expertise in this domain provides the best platform for the EU and the Member States to build a comprehensive action plan promoting civil/military synergies”, said Jorge Domecq, EDA Chief Executive.
Tasked by the Member States, the European Defence Agency recently put in place an expert-level Ad Hoc Working Group to address the persistent shortfalls and promote better coordination and enhanced synergies among all stakeholders. The objectives of the working group are to identify obstacles and barriers to cross-border movement and surface transit of military personnel and assets, to map existing initiatives and shortfalls, identify relevant actors at EU and national level and to develop an action plan with dedicated tasks and responsibilities including a roadmap with timelines. Among the principles to be followed are avoidance of duplication and inclusiveness in order to address all relevant stakeholders. The expert group will deliver its report in spring 2018, based on which the High Representative and the European Commission will build an Action Plan on Military Mobility.
The EDA currently runs two projects which are dedicated to removing regulatory, legal or procedural obstacles to military movement of troops and airlift capabilities:
- In 2014 fourteen Member States decided to launch a dedicated project within the European Defence Agency dedicated to an EU Multimodal Transport Hub. Those Member States have identified the need to better coordinate military movement. A Multimodal Hub Transport (M2TH) network is being developed in order to facilitate the fast movement of troops, through harmonised regulations, procedures and process as well as pooling and sharing of assets and infrastructure in Europe. Core to this project is the central coordination of movement, identifying a physical network of locations and identifying services to be provided. Execution uses simplified and harmonised procedures within the boundaries of EU legislation and national laws. Other Member States have shown interest in joining this project.
- The aim of EDA’s Diplomatic Clearances Technical Arrangement is to harmonise procedures for overflights and landings of EU nations’ military registered or operated transport aircraft. The arrangement enables the 16 signatory Member States to operate without the need to submit diplomatic requests for each flight, with an annual diplomatic clearance number issued. This common mechanism increases efficiency and effectiveness of European airlift, giving more flexibility during mission preparation and mission execution. Furthermore it saves Member States’ human and financial resources with a significantly reduced number of required requests and notifications. A dedicated online portal provides basic transparency on national policies and procedures for granting diplomatic clearances for military transport aircraft.