The Compass also pleads for a strengthening of the EU’s cooperation with partners in order for it to be better prepared to address common threats and challenges. Among the required measures, already endorsed by Member States, are:
- a reinforcement of the strategic partnerships with NATO and the UN “through more structured political dialogues as well as operational and thematic cooperation”. In addition, it is agreed to increase the EU’s cooperation
with regional partners, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the African Union (AU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN);
- an enhanced cooperation with bilateral partners that share the same values and interests such as United States, Norway, Canada, UK and Japan. “Tailored partnerships” should also be developed in the Western Balkans, the EU’s eastern
and southern neighbourhood, Africa, Asia and Latin America;
- the development of an “EU Security and Defence Partnership Forum” to work more closely and effectively with partners to address common challenges.
This is probably the most important part of the Compass, and its message is clear: “We must resolutely invest more and better in defence capabilities and innovative technologies, both at the EU and national levels”, and we must make
sure that we spend not only more, but also more wisely, and foster a much stronger military cooperation in Europe. Increased investment will enable individual Member States (and Europe as a whole) to fill critical capability gaps, overcome fragmentation,
achieve full interoperability of their forces and develop a resilient, competitive and innovative European Defence Technological and Industrial Base throughout the Union.
Therefore, by approving the Strategic Compass, Member States took significant commitments which, if respected and implemented, will not only lead to higher defence spending, but also more collaborative European projects along the CARD recommendations.
“We will therefore substantially increase our defence expenditures, with a significant share for investment, focusing on identified strategic shortfalls. We will ensure a coordinated and collaborative European approach for such enhanced expenditures at Member States’ and at EU level, to maximise output, increase interoperability and make full use of economies of scale. To this end, we will define strategic orientations on the resources that are necessary to match our security needs and the full use of EU tools to incentivise collaborative defence investments”,
is stated in the Compass.
The money invested must serve to fill existing capability gaps - primarily those identified in the Capability Development Plan (CDP) and the first CARD report that provide a clear and coherent “direction of travel” and help Member States to
invest in innovative and interoperable high-end capabilities, and enabling to use these capabilities in the full range of missions and operations, including for high-intensity operations, and respond to any future crisis and threat. Here, Member
States also agree and commit “to take forward the recommendations of the first-ever Coordinated Annual Review on Defence Report published in 2020, including the agreed six capability ‘focus areas’ that would benefit from enhanced defence cooperation”,
namely the Main Battle Tank, Soldier Systems, the European Patrol Class surface ship, Anti Access Area Denial capacities and Countering Unmanned Aerial Systems, Defence in Space and Enhanced Military Mobility.
“To act rapidly and protect our citizens, we will work together to overcome critical gaps. We will make full use of Permanent Structured Cooperation and the European Defence Fund to develop interoperable high-end systems and advanced technologies”,
one reads in the Compass. More precisely, the EU-27 commit to developing the following capabilities through collaboration:
- Land - upgrade, modernisation and progressive replacement of current major platforms and related logistic systems. “The focus areas Soldier Systems and Main Battle Tank will be important contributions to these efforts”;
- Maritime - ensure a more assertive EU presence at sea as well as the ability to project power, high-end naval platforms, including unmanned platforms for surface and underwater control. “The focus area European Patrol Class
Surface Ship will be an important step in this direction”;
- Air – develop nextgeneration and fully interoperable capabilities, notably future combat systems as well as air defence systems. “We will progressively integrate the foreseen future combat systems, including Remotely Piloted
Air Systems, into existing fleets of combat air systems in an interoperable manner. Efforts on key enablers also need to be pursued, notably the Strategic Airlift capability. The focus area Anti Access Area Denial capacities and Countering Unmanned
Aerial Systems contributes to the air defence dimension of these efforts”;
- Space - develop new cutting-edge technology sensors and platforms allowing the EU and its Member States to improve its access to space and protect its space-based assets. “This entails notably the development of Space Based
Earth Observation, as well as technologies for Space Situational Awareness and space-based communication and navigation services”;
- Cyber – European forces need to operate in a coordinated, informed and efficient manner. “We will therefore develop and make intensive use of new technologies, notably quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence and Big
Data, to achieve comparative advantages, including in terms of cyber responsive operations and information superiority. Cyber defence is paramount in ensuring that the focus area Enhanced Military Mobility unfolds its full potential as essential
Part of the joint capability projects will be developed through PESCO where cooperation must be intensified. “Concretely, this means that by 2025 Member States participating in Permanent Structured Cooperation must fulfil all more binding commitments that they have undertaken. In 2025, one third of 60 ongoing Permanent Structured Cooperation projects will deliver the expected capability and meet their objectives. Beyond these concrete results, our goal is to go further by implementing the agreed capability priorities and developing new ambitious projects. We will closely review the fulfilment of these commitments in order to be able to agree on new commitments in 2025 to further deepen defence cooperation”,
is stated in the Compass.
Member States are also willing to adapt the EU’s defence capability planning and development, notably by revising the capability planning scenarios of the Headline Goal process, to better reflect operational realities, strategic foresight and bring
military capability development closer to operational needs, which provides an essential contribution to the Capability Development Plan.. Such scenarios include military rapid deployment in a non-permissive environment, as well as responding to hybrid
threats, securing access to strategic domains such as high seas, air, cyber and space, and providing military assistance to civilian authorities.
Importantly, national Ministries of Defence also want to ensure that all EU defence initiatives (CARD, PESCO, EDF) and capability planning and development tools (CDP, OSRA) are better embedded in national defence planning. “We will continue to ensure that the results of these processes remain coherent with those of the respective NATO processes. This will enhance the readiness, robustness and interoperability of our single set of forces”,
is stated in the Compass. Member States also commit to “maximise coherence between the EU defence related initiatives” (CARD, PESCO, EDF). In this regard, the HR/VP and Head of EDA will chair annual Defence Ministerial meetings on EU defence
initiatives addressing capability development.
A Defence Innovation Hub within EDA
Emerging and disruptive technologies - such as Artificial Intelligence, quantum computing, advanced propulsion, bio- and nanotechnology and new materials and industrial capacities - are shaping military affairs and defence markets and, therefore, must
be at the heart of Europe’s collective defence investments. Even though a lot has already been done in recent years to boost innovation, more needs to be done “both at the national level and through a more ambitious use of EU instruments
to be better prepared for the future battlefield and the next generation technology”.
Among the concrete commitments made by Member States is the establishment of a Defence Innovation Hub within EDA: “In 2022, we will establish a Defence Innovation Hub within the European Defence Agency, working in partnership with the Commission to exploit synergies with its related work-strands, including the EU Defence Innovation Scheme. The parameters of this Hub will be defined within the framework of the European Defence Agency”.
The Commission, in coordination with EDA, is also tasked to “develop an EU Defence Innovation Scheme to accelerate security and defence innovation for the EU and its Member States”.