If you want peace, prepare for war
All these topics have been addressed, in principle, by the Strategic Compass, which must be now implemented with a new, truly converging attitude by all Member States. This is something we must still achieve.
The fragmentation of the defence landscape and the uncoordinated way we continue to spend our national defence budgets are leading examples of this lack of cooperation: we don’t do enough joint research & innovation and joint procurement, while we maintain old national arsenals and invest too much into competing systems. From a purely military perspective, all this is hardly understandable in terms of interoperability and logistics, and unacceptable if we want to protect ourselves against direct and long-term threats for Europe’s security.
Therefore, the way ahead should be based on a simple concept: if we want peace and stability, we should also prepare for war. Security does not come easy, nor for free.
More cooperation needed
In practical terms, using the current momentum without aiming to duplicate or compete with NATO, we should rapidly achieve our own, autonomous capacity to manage operations and missions, dispose of strategic foresight, and do our defence planning, for prevention and deterrence, in a more integrated, collaborative way.
We should give up some national sovereignty in developing key capabilities. In a way, we should take a step back as single stakeholders, only to better advance together afterwards, in a rugby-like strategy. We should refill our stocks, in some cases consistently depleted by considerable transfers of military equipment and ammunition to Ukraine, by buying together, and better.
Time on our hands is very limited. Decisions cannot be procrastinated any further, especially considering the long timespan required to prioritise defence spending, procure key systems and have them operationally available.
We will then need to exercise those capabilities and capacities, robustly, and to find ways to finance and enhance those exercises. Together as EU Member States, and with partners.
At the same time, for the sake of credibility, we should not diminish our current efforts on the ground but, on the contrary, invest more in mitigating existing and potential future crises, wherever the EU’s interests are at stake, also considering their economic, energy-related and humanitarian effects, to name only a few of them.
Because if the Russian aggression has attracted all the spotlight, several other crises continue to raise concerns, often right at our borders.
In conclusion, if I had to highlight three topics on which I intend to focus my EUMC Chairmanship in the next three years, I would mention: cooperation, implementation of the Strategic Compass and support to CSDP activities.
First, the need to enhance cooperation, at all levels. Cooperation among ourselves, as military leaders, among Member States, with NATO, the UN, the African Union and all other stakeholders involved.
This cooperation will be even more instrumental if we can benefit from the existing and new collaborative opportunities, and if we deliver on the Strategic Compass in a timely fashion, knowing that 60% of the agreed actions in the Compass are to be implemented before the end of the year.
Finally, we should continue to build on the results and lessons learned from our ongoing missions and operations, and make their mandates more robust and effective. Eventually, this will make them more attractive for contributing Member States and partners and deliver a message of trust to host nations and the wider international community.
To sum up, I believe that more than ever before, the EU is now regarded as a first-line security stakeholder, which plays a leading role in the A-league of global security providers. The Russian war in Ukraine has pulled Member States together, offering an opportunity we cannot miss. The situation calls for it, our partners demand it, and European citizens expect it.