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
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
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.