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A strategy as a driving force: discussions on European defence

In the context of the ongoing discussions on the future shape of the European defence, especially the upcoming EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, Jorge Domecq, the Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA) participated in the experts’ seminar “European Strategy, European Defence and the CSDP” on 14 October 2015 to share his thoughtful insights from the Agency’s perspective.

The seminar was organised by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, the Royal Higher Institute for Defence, and the Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations, with support of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU. The welcome speeches were delivered by the Ambassador Alain Le Roy, Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and Prof. Dr Sven Biscop from the Egmont. 

The future EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, which the European Council mandated Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to draft by June 2016, served as a starting point for the debate. The seminar’s agenda was built around political and military aspects of Europe’s responsibilities as a security provider, along with the implications for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). 

The three panels devoted to these themes gave way to fruitful discussions. Jorge Domecq, the EDA Chief Executive, participated in the third panel, which focused on the strategy’s consequences for defence planning, capability development, increased multinational cooperation and integration, specifically through the CSDP. “The Global Strategy will be a starting point: it should be a driver for a full range of activities, including for European defence,” said Jorge Domecq. The EDA Chief Executive justified the need for a follow-on document, which would complement the global strategy and enable to translate political objectives into military ones, viewed as long-term commitments. Moreover, Jorge Domecq drew attention to the necessity of bringing more coherence to the EU toolbox. At this point, he emphasised the Agency’s role: “The EDA has a unique expertise, know-how and legitimacy. It ensures that Ministries of Defence’s views are fully taken into account. We need to streamline our instruments and maximise the impact on defence.” 

Jorge Domecq also touched upon the EU relations with NATO in the context of the new global strategy: “Europe should not become a follower, nor a free-rider. I have been touring across Europe, I am meeting US senior officials as well as NATO officials. The message I get is: there will be no relevant NATO without a relevant Europe. The drafting of such a document on Defence embodying a real defence commitment would, as such, be a sign of reassurance.”