“Achieving common defence capabilities is now more necessary than ever. In an unpredictable international scenario, we need a common defence policy which reinforces unity, strategic autonomy and integration in order to promote peace and security inside the Union and in the world”, said Esteban González Pons MEP, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group, commenting on the adoption of the Report on the implications of the Common Security and Defence Policy.
“It is time for the European Union to be able to defend and protect itself, to guarantee its values and the security of its citizens inside and outside the Union, without depending on others. The lack of progress on common defence depends more on the political will of the Member States than on legal considerations", he said. “What we ask in this Report is for more political commitment from Member States to use what we already have, such as their participation in the permanent structured cooperation mechanism, and in the creation of the European Integrated Forces, as foreseen in the Treaty”, he highlighted.
According to the Treaty, permanent structured cooperation gives the possibility to strengthen cooperation in military matters for countries which intensively develop their defence capacities and are able to deploy combat units or logistics for tasks such as peacekeeping operations within a period of 5 to 30 days, or longer. Those Member States who fulfil the criteria should therefore train their troops together, jointly develop their capabilities, and coordinate their equipment and infrastructure. At the same time, the EU budget funds should be available to finance this peacetime cooperation in areas like joint training and the education of soldiers, joint procurement and maintenance programmes, infrastructure or research and technology. The Report also calls on the Member States to make full use of the potential of the European Defence Agency (EDA) whose main goal is to help Member States develop their capabilities.
“In previous years, the European Defence Agency (EDA) lagged behind in its constitutional potential. In changing this old habit, parliamentarians are calling for a reform of the Agency which has to serve Member States better in improving their capabilities”, stressed Michael Gahler MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on defence and security.
“Member States permanently ignore that the funding of the administrative and operating expenditures for the EDA and permanent structured cooperation from the European Union budget is the only option under the Treaties. Because of these claims, we ask for a revision of the Council decision to set up the Agency, establish the permanent structured cooperation, and change the financial regulation for these purposes”, he said.
Both Members stressed that building the European Defence Union will mean optimising military capabilities as it will avoid duplicities, achieve more efficiency and important economic savings. “But particularly, it is an opportunity to boost the European project, and to decide the type of Union that we want for the near future", concluded González Pons.