How the COVID-19 crisis has affected security and defence-related aspects for the EU

27-07-2020

This briefing examines the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on security and defence-related aspects for the European Union (EU) between December 2019 and June 2020. Based on this analysis, it identifies key problems or questions that require more attention from policymakers in the coming months and years. Four areas are singled out for analysis, as follows. Section (i), on the security environment and implications for strategy, discusses how COVID-19 tends to feed violent conflict and empowers non-state actors, but also highlights new opportunities to make cease-fires stick. It makes the case for examining in what areas and through what steps Europe can strengthen its self-reliance, unity and strategic leadership capability amidst the growing risk of great power competition. Section (ii), on Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and defence-related mechanisms, capabilities and resources, identifies the growing risk to Europe’s defence budget, capabilities and ambitions and suggests a number of ways in which Member States can manage these risks through fiscal measures, greater prioritisation and collaboration. Section (iii) highlights the multi-faceted positive contributions that the armed forces have made to support civilian authorities at home, but suggests substantial untapped potential to do more in future emergencies. It makes the case for analysing the long-term implications of COVID-19 on readiness and generating forces for overseas operations. Section (iv), on the different ways CSDP operations and missions have been affected by COVID-19 and the ways in which they have adapted to support host countries, makes the case for tackling pre-existing problems with staffing of missions and the resilience of missions to infectious diseases. It also recommends reviewing the rationale and scope for what might be termed ‘health diplomacy’.

This briefing examines the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on security and defence-related aspects for the European Union (EU) between December 2019 and June 2020. Based on this analysis, it identifies key problems or questions that require more attention from policymakers in the coming months and years. Four areas are singled out for analysis, as follows. Section (i), on the security environment and implications for strategy, discusses how COVID-19 tends to feed violent conflict and empowers non-state actors, but also highlights new opportunities to make cease-fires stick. It makes the case for examining in what areas and through what steps Europe can strengthen its self-reliance, unity and strategic leadership capability amidst the growing risk of great power competition. Section (ii), on Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and defence-related mechanisms, capabilities and resources, identifies the growing risk to Europe’s defence budget, capabilities and ambitions and suggests a number of ways in which Member States can manage these risks through fiscal measures, greater prioritisation and collaboration. Section (iii) highlights the multi-faceted positive contributions that the armed forces have made to support civilian authorities at home, but suggests substantial untapped potential to do more in future emergencies. It makes the case for analysing the long-term implications of COVID-19 on readiness and generating forces for overseas operations. Section (iv), on the different ways CSDP operations and missions have been affected by COVID-19 and the ways in which they have adapted to support host countries, makes the case for tackling pre-existing problems with staffing of missions and the resilience of missions to infectious diseases. It also recommends reviewing the rationale and scope for what might be termed ‘health diplomacy’.

Autor externo

Christoph O. Meyer, Sophia Besch, Prof. Martin Bricknell, Dr Ben Jones