Mr. Daniel VERNET
Director International Relations "Le Monde"
"The European Security and Defence Policy :
Is Peacekeeping Enough?"
Paris, 14 December 2001
Lecture in the International Seminar for Experts "Europe: Atlantic Partner or Regional Player? Europe's Security and Defence Policy after September 11", organised by the Cicero Foundation in the series Great Debates in Paris on 13 and 14 December 2001.
After two days of discussing the future of CFSP and ESDP it
appears pretty risky for me to close the seminar, coming after a lot of experts
who certainly gave to you the most accurate views on the European Policy.
I am not sure I can bring some new thoughts, but I would like to try to summarize three or four ideas by answering the question put to our session: Is peacekeeping enough?
My answer will certainly be: "no".
But before I try to tell you why peacekeeping seems to be insufficient to match the goals of a genuine ESDP, particularly after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, let me explain what does already peacekeeping mean for the European Union.
The EU and Peacekeeping
Two points should be stressed:
1) Assuming the so-called Petersberg tasks in the Amsterdam
treaty did mean a significant step forward for the European Union, for several
- The EU was still considered by some members states as a civil power, whose defense must be left to other organizations. For some of them it was NATO; for others, it could have been WEU, independently of EU; for others, the EU should have no ambition to become a military power and even to include some military elements in its policy.
- For the first time, the EU recognized it has a responsibility in the stability of the continent and a role to play in maintaining this stability, including with military means and with the use of force.
- Already the Petersberg tasks went beyond peacekeeping and included not only humanitarian missions, but also operations of peace enforcing, that is the use of force in order to restore peace. Of course, some of the member states, particularly the new ones after the enlargement of 1995, the so-called neutral states, did underline the humanitarian and the peace keeping missions in the Petersberg tasks, forgetting the third one, which was more demanding but it is important to stress the full range of the Petersberg tasks. I want to remind you that by establishing the COPS, the military committee and the European staff, the 15 refrained of defining strictly the kind of missions the Rapid Reaction Force could have to undertake, in order to leave every option open and not to rule out, from the start, any kind of intervention.
The same is true for the geographical area: it was tacitly assumed in the 1990's that the European Rapid Reaction Force should be able and allowed to intervene "in and around Europe". The reason was given by the former German defense minister, Volker Rühe, when he said à propos the Eurocorps, some years earlier: the Eurocorps can not be the Africa corps.
But after September 11th, it seems to me that the question of area and out of area for the RRF has been answered in a different way Volker Rühe thought at that time.
2. It leads me to the second point I would like to underline
about the relations between EU and peace-keeping: thinking about peace-keeping
was determined by the international situation, by the situation "in and
around Europe" at the beginning of the 90's.
With the end of the Cold War, Europe had no longer to face a threat coming from the East and if there was a remaining threat, let say, on the Eastern border of Poland, not because of the military power of Russia, but because of the possible instability in the Russian Federation, NATO was still there to take over the collective defense of Europe.
On the other hand, the multiplication of religious, ethnic conflicts
in Europe, the civil wars waged by states or infra state organizations stressed
the need for crisis management, beyond the civil instruments (economic aid,
financial interventions, humanitarian missions) the EU could already undertake.
Of course, NATO was at the same time transforming itself in order to assume not only article 5 missions, but also to do crisis management, peace keeping operations or peace enforcing actions. But the experiences of Bosnia and later of Kosovo have shown that the EU can not simply rely on NATO to garantuee European stability and security; that the involvement of the USA in regional crises should not be taken for granted forever. Therefore, the European Union should play a complementary role, should assume its status of a regional power and a global player, to use the word of Joschka Fischer, to take its part of the burden allegedly supported by the USA.
That was the common wisdom until September 11th. That was the basis thought of the French-British Saint Malo declaration, which was the beginning or rather the relaunch of a European defense policy. But it was said, at that time, by all European politicians, that the European defense policy was not the defense of Europe.
What has changed on September 11th?
- First, the USA has discovered it is vulnerable
- Second, its defense priorities are no longer in Europe
- Third, the main threat or risk for Europe is no longer the East and even perhaps not European instability, but terrorist operations, like the attacks on WTC and the Pentagon
- Fourth, and its certainly the most important lesson of the aftermath of September 11th, NATO is not prepared to face such new threats. The invocation of article 5, for the first time in NATO history, without any practical consequence, did cast doubts over the ability of NATO to cope with such threats and over the value of collective defense by NATO.
The first European leader who speaks about the necessity to go beyond the Petersberg tasks was the French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in a statement made at the opening session of IHEDN in Paris. Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder took over the idea at the French-German summit meeting, three weeks ago, in Nantes in November 2001. Interestingly enough, Chirac and Blair avoided the question when they met in London at the end of November. My guess is that the British government is not comfortable with the idea of developing the ESDP beyond the Petersberg tasks, may be only for the time being, because of the fear to bypass NATO and to irritate the USA. But the British Defense Minister said a month ago in an interview with the Financial Times: "We have to make sure the goal [of the ESDP] is relevant to the threat we now face".
Going Beyond the Petersberg Missions
Let me try to explain what does it mean going beyond the Petersberg missions:
1) It means developing every kind of instruments in order to
fight terrorism, cooperation of police, customs and intelligence services,
the tracking of terrorist funds
2) It means that the EU not only needs military capability to project forces in Europe, but also beyond the European borders (see the military transport aircraft A400-M) while too many European armies are still focussed on the Cold War objective of territorial defense in the sense of the sixties and seventies (see Germany)
3) It could mean that Europe needs to think about its collective defense, not to replace NATO, but to reinforce NATO by European capabilities. This question has the practical side, I just mentioned. It has above all a symbolic - it means highly political - side, that is the indispensable solidarity of every member state of the Union in case of a (terrorist) attack against one of them. The European Union would be meaningless if this kind of solidarity would not exist. There is a need for a kind of article 5 in the EU. The idea was already put forward by ex-chancellor Kohl before the Amsterdam meeting. It was premature. Now it is not. I should add: not a kind of article 5 like in the Washington treaty which is compulsory for nobody, but like the article 5 of the Brussels treaty, the treaty which established the WEU.
4) It can not mean to abandon peace keeping missions which could be as important in the future as they have been in the past, even more important if the USA should leave the Balkans and transfer the responsibility of crisis management to the European Union (see Macedonia)...
Of course I cannot ignore the objections:
1) NATO is and remains for the time being the western alliance,
which has the capability of deterring several kinds of threats. And the Alliance
remains the strongest link between the two sides of the Atlantic. May I simply
say that this very organization is transforming itself again in a more political
organization, which will welcome Russia in the next few years.
2) Objection: the European Union has not the necessary capabilities to assume new responsibilities going beyond what it agreed to in the last three years. At least without increasing substantially its military budgets.
3) ESDP would be transformed in a military alliance, a step some member states are not ready to make for the time being
4) I have to add a fourth objection, which has to do with the previous one: in changing the goals of ESDP while it is still in the build-up phase, you might endanger what has already been achieved and what all 15 agreed on.
Is it possible and desirable to overcome these objections? My
answer is yes.