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 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.

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.