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What place for the UK in Europe's defence labyrinth?

16-03-2020

There is at least one point of agreement in the debates about the future relationship between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU): European security is British security. The UK's departure from the EU will not alter geography and the UK will inevitably share interests and challenges with its continental neighbours. The UK and the EU nations share the same strategic environment and, by default, the same threats to their peace and security. Historically, pragmatically and geographically ...

There is at least one point of agreement in the debates about the future relationship between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU): European security is British security. The UK's departure from the EU will not alter geography and the UK will inevitably share interests and challenges with its continental neighbours. The UK and the EU nations share the same strategic environment and, by default, the same threats to their peace and security. Historically, pragmatically and geographically, they remain deeply linked from a security and defence perspective, and there is general consensus on the need to nurture this link. This view is reflected in official documents from both sides. Having now left the Union, the UK has become a third country to the EU, albeit a distinctive one, and future cooperation will evolve on that basis. While the EU's common security and defence policy has an established precedent of close cooperation with third countries on missions and operations, the EU's new defence integration initiatives are currently tracing new contours for third-party cooperation. Possibilities for going beyond existing EU rules for third-country participation and more precise parameters for security and defence cooperation between the EU and the UK will likely be decided after the transition period ends. The UK played a foundational role in shaping the EU's security and defence policy. Though long sceptical of EU-level supranational military integration, the UK nevertheless remains deeply interconnected with the remaining EU Member States in this area. As one of Europe's biggest military powers, the UK brings a particularly valuable contribution to the field, from top-notch military strategists and innovative capabilities to a highly performing army with varied expeditionary know-how. While it will continue to bring this contribution through NATO and intergovernmental formats, the UK and the EU both have an interest in close alignment, strategically, politically and militarily. They had, indeed, both expressed a commitment to securing an unparalleled partnership in foreign, security and defence policy. Regardless of anticipated difficulties in negotiating the future relationship, the two parties' security interests are largely shared. As threats pay no heed to a country's memberships, and great power competition is showing no sign of abating, a strongly knitted UK-EU relationship is essential.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea: EU and international action

12-03-2020

The Gulf of Guinea is framed by 6 000 km of west African coastline, from Senegal to Angola. Its sea basin is an important resource for fisheries and is part of a key sea route for the transport of goods between central and southern Africa and the rest of the world. Its geo-political and geo-economic importance has grown since it has become a strategic hub in global and regional energy trade. Every day, nearly 1 500 fishing vessels, cargo ships and tankers navigate its waters. The security of this ...

The Gulf of Guinea is framed by 6 000 km of west African coastline, from Senegal to Angola. Its sea basin is an important resource for fisheries and is part of a key sea route for the transport of goods between central and southern Africa and the rest of the world. Its geo-political and geo-economic importance has grown since it has become a strategic hub in global and regional energy trade. Every day, nearly 1 500 fishing vessels, cargo ships and tankers navigate its waters. The security of this maritime area is threatened by the rise of piracy, illegal fishing, and other maritime crimes. Regional actors have committed to cooperate on tackling the issue through the 'Yaoundé Code of Conduct' and the related cooperation mechanism and bodies. The international community has also pledged to track and condemn acts of piracy at sea. The European Union (EU), which has a strong interest in safeguarding its maritime trade and in addressing piracy's root causes, supports regional and international initiatives. The EU is also implementing its own maritime security strategy, which includes, among other features, a regional component for the Gulf of Guinea; this entails EU bodies' and Member States' cooperation in countering acts of piracy, as well as capacity-building projects. This briefing draws from and updates the sections on the Gulf of Guinea in 'Piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Africa', EPRS, March 2019.

Military mobility: Infrastructure for the defence of Europe

25-02-2020

To 'unite and strengthen Europe' is one of the goals expressed by the newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, believed that only 'a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external.' European infrastructure that enables connectivity and ensures a rapid response in case of a crisis is a prerequisite for these visions. Since 2017, awareness has been increasing about the obstacles preventing ...

To 'unite and strengthen Europe' is one of the goals expressed by the newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, believed that only 'a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external.' European infrastructure that enables connectivity and ensures a rapid response in case of a crisis is a prerequisite for these visions. Since 2017, awareness has been increasing about the obstacles preventing armed forces from moving effectively and swiftly across borders in crisis conditions. The measures taken to correct this strategic vulnerability are known under the term military mobility. Existing regulatory, administrative, and infrastructure inconsistencies and impediments across the territory of the European Union (EU) significantly hamper military exercises and training. Military mobility aims to harmonise rules across EU Member States and to explore the potential of a civilian-military approach to infrastructure development. Through measures such as funding dual use transport infrastructure, and simplifying diplomatic clearances and customs rules, the European Commission aims to improve military mobility across as well as beyond the EU, in support of missions and operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy. The unique EU contribution is its ability to leverage existing policies in the civilian realm to create added value for the military. This goal can be achieved only if a whole-of-government approach is applied, which in turn requires close collaboration between different bodies at the EU level, between them and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and between them and various actors at the Member State level. So far, military mobility has enjoyed a high degree of commitment from all stakeholders, which has in turn ensured swift policy implementation. It is becoming increasingly clear that military mobility is an essential piece in the EU's ambition to become a stronger global actor.

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - February 2020

10-02-2020

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

What if internet by satellite were to lead to congestion in orbit?

05-02-2020

American Starlink project aims to bring high speed internet access across the globe by 2021. It’s certainly a mission in the sky! But how will Elon Musk’s plans to deploy this mega constellation of satellites impact on European citizens?

American Starlink project aims to bring high speed internet access across the globe by 2021. It’s certainly a mission in the sky! But how will Elon Musk’s plans to deploy this mega constellation of satellites impact on European citizens?

The 2019 ESPAS Conference: Some useful take-aways

31-01-2020

What are the probable and less probable developments of ageing? How should university deal with the disrespect for facts? Will we see a multipolar or poly-nodal world? What will be the main causes of inequality? What can government do to prevent undesired futures? The 2019 ESPAS Conference was devoted to foresight, the disciplined exploration of alternative futures and had some useful take-aways in these questions

What are the probable and less probable developments of ageing? How should university deal with the disrespect for facts? Will we see a multipolar or poly-nodal world? What will be the main causes of inequality? What can government do to prevent undesired futures? The 2019 ESPAS Conference was devoted to foresight, the disciplined exploration of alternative futures and had some useful take-aways in these questions

Financing EU security and defence: Heading 5 of the 2021-2027 MFF

23-01-2020

For the new 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF), the European Commission proposes to dedicate a separate heading to security and defence – Heading 5. Although the European Union (EU) has already financed action linked to security and defence, this is the first time that this policy area has been so visibly underlined in the EU budget structure. With an allocation of €24 323 million (in 2018 prices), Heading 5 is the smallest of the seven MFF headings and represents 2.1 % of the total ...

For the new 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF), the European Commission proposes to dedicate a separate heading to security and defence – Heading 5. Although the European Union (EU) has already financed action linked to security and defence, this is the first time that this policy area has been so visibly underlined in the EU budget structure. With an allocation of €24 323 million (in 2018 prices), Heading 5 is the smallest of the seven MFF headings and represents 2.1 % of the total MFF. Heading 5 'Security and Defence' under the new MFF consists of three 'policy clusters': security, (policy cluster number 12), defence (13) and crisis response (14). The programmes and funds proposed for Heading 5 consist of old and new initiatives. They include the continuation of the current Internal Security Fund – Police instrument, funding for nuclear decommissioning and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (rescEU). The European Defence Fund and the military mobility programme, which is a part of the Connecting Europe Facility, are new. The European Parliament position is supportive of the Commission proposal, with the exception of the allocation for nuclear decommissioning, which the Parliaments sees as insufficient. Even though the Council has not yet expressed its position on the 2021-2027 MFF, the Finnish EU Presidency contributed to the debate with its 'negotiation box' that proposed severe cuts to Heading 5, down to €16 491 million. The European Parliament reaction to this reduction is negative.

Future of European Security and Defence Policy [What Think Tanks are thinking]

17-01-2020

The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) aims to ensure an appropriate role for the Union in peace-keeping operations, conflict prevention and in the strengthening of international security. It is an integral part of the EU's comprehensive approach towards crisis management, drawing on civilian and military assets. Now its importance is rising because of the increasingly uncertain strategic environment. For years, the EU has been considered as an economic powerhouse but militarily weak, ...

The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) aims to ensure an appropriate role for the Union in peace-keeping operations, conflict prevention and in the strengthening of international security. It is an integral part of the EU's comprehensive approach towards crisis management, drawing on civilian and military assets. Now its importance is rising because of the increasingly uncertain strategic environment. For years, the EU has been considered as an economic powerhouse but militarily weak, and it is currently debating whether and how to enhance its defence capabilities, notably because of the growing complexity of transatlantic security relations. The new European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, is determined to expand the EU’s international role, calling her Commission ‘geopolitical’. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on the state of the future of the EU’s foreign, security and defence policy.

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - January 2020

13-01-2020

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

CSDP Missions and Operations

10-01-2020

This policy brief provides an overview of what the EU has done through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations since 2003, and which achievements and challenges it faces at the end of EU High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP) Federica Mogherini’s mandate. It evaluates how the overall political context and the EU’s approach have evolved over time, and how this has affected the launch and implementation of CSDP actions. It looks at a range of criteria for evaluating ...

This policy brief provides an overview of what the EU has done through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations since 2003, and which achievements and challenges it faces at the end of EU High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP) Federica Mogherini’s mandate. It evaluates how the overall political context and the EU’s approach have evolved over time, and how this has affected the launch and implementation of CSDP actions. It looks at a range of criteria for evaluating the success of missions and operations such as effectiveness, degree of match between mission launch and EU interests at stake, responsiveness, coherence with wider policy strategies, coherence with values and norms, and degree of democratic scrutiny and oversight. It assesses some of the achievements as well as shortcomings of previous and ongoing missions and operations against these objectives. The brief identifies three underlying and cross-cutting problems hampering performance: (i) incompatible attitudes among Member States towards the use of force; (ii) resource disincentives and barriers to timely European solidarity; and (iii) gaps between early warning and early action. It outlines some selected initiatives launched and options discussed to address these shortcomings and improve the EU’s performance in crisis management operations.

Externí autor

Christoph O. Meyer, Professor of European & International Politics, King’s College London, UK

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