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MEPs call for common EU defence policy

MEPs call for common EU defence policy

Eurocopter Tiger Copyright © 2007 David Monniaux

(BRUSSELS) - The EU should tackle Europe's deteriorating security by helping its armed forces to work together better, as a first step towards a common defence policy, MEPs on the foreign affairs committee said Monday.

In two separate resolutions, MEPs urged the EU to establish an EU operational headquarters to plan, command and manage crisis management operations, as well as setting a defence spending target of 2% of GDP and launching Common Defence and Security Policy training operation in Iraq.

With the security situation in and around Europe worsening significantly in recent years, through terrorism, hybrid threats or cyber and energy insecurity, no country is able to tackle alone, says a resolution on the European Defence Union.

Foreign affairs MEPs want the EU to respond faster and more robustly to real threats, which they say requires European armed forces to work together better.

According to a June 2016 Eurobarometer survey, two thirds of EU citizens would like to see greater EU engagement in matters of security and defence.

The resolution asks the European Council to lead the creation of "common Union defence policy and to provide additional financial resources ensuring its implementation".

It also advocates setting up an EU operational headquarters to plan, command and control crisis management operations. MEPs urge EU Member States to aim to spend 2% of GDP on defence and to establish "multinational forces within the Permanent Structured Cooperation and make these forces available to the common security and defence policy".

MEPs call for the European defence market to be made fair, accessible and transparent. They also back the proposed EU investment in defence-related research projects "of at least 90 million euro during next three years", suggesting that this should be followed up by a separate European Defence Research Programme with an annual budget of €500 million.

The Common Security and Defence policy (CSDP) should be radically overhauled in order to assert the EU's strategic autonomy and to strengthen its resilience, says a separate resolution, prepared by Ioan Mircea Pascu (S&D, RO).

The EU "should be able to intervene across the whole spectrum of crisis management, including crisis prevention and crisis resolution", while "all Council decisions on future missions and operations should prioritise engagements in conflicts directly affecting EU security", says the text.

The resolution suggests launching CSDP training operation in Iraq to support member states involved in the coalition against Da'esh. MEPs also urge the Council to set up a start-up fund to provide urgent funding for the initial phases of military operations and to make the EU Battlegroups, a rapid response force created in 2007, into a more readily employable military instrument.

Finally, MEPs welcome further steps taken to strengthen EU-NATO relations, including stepping up cooperation, in particular to counter hybrid and cyber threats, and to avoid wasteful competition.

Further information, European Parliament

Procedure file on the European Defence Union (2016/2052(INI))

Committee on Foreign Affairs

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