The European continent must plan and prepare for an unpredictable world. A changing leadership in the United States, globally increased defence spending, contested multilateralism, violent conflicts, social inequality, mass migration, Brexit, and Russia’s increased assertiveness beg the question: what role for Europe as a regional and global security actor?
How closely aligned are French and German views on these issues? Can the two countries be the cornerstone for the EU’s proposed ‘Defence Union’? What other coalitions exist within the EU, such as the Weimar Triangle or the Visegrad Four? What are the implications if the UK’s military strengths can no longer be counted on? Is Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) now the best way forward? Is there common ground for stronger coordination between France’s and Germany’s investment and modernization priorities? How far are these aligned with European priorities?
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Former Deputy Director for Security and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe and Vice-President of WIIS - Women in International Security, Brussels
The current geopolitical landscape calls for a stronger security emphasis in Europe. Instability the EU’s neighbourhood and beyond, globally increased defence spending, contested multilateralism, violent conflicts, social inequality and mass migration, combined with Brexit, unclear directions from the new U.S. administration and increasing Russian are cause for concern. While the EU’s new global strategy paves the way, details of implementation are yet to become clear. How prepared is Europe to face these challenges?
How will the 2017 elections in France and Germany impact the two countries’ foreign policies? How closely aligned are French and German views of Europe’s role as a regional and global security provider? Can the two countries be the cornerstone for the EU’s proposed ‘Defence Union’? What other coalitions exist within the EU, and do informal groups such as the Weimar Triangle or the Visegrad Four carry weight in setting European defence priorities? What are the implications if the UK’s military strengths can no longer be counted on?
The barriers to a rapid strengthening of Europeans’ weakened military outreach appear daunting. Money alone won’t solve the problem, but must be combined with strategic upgrade of CSDP, institutional reform and the harmonisation of capability development. Is Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) now the best way forward? Is there common ground for stronger coordination between France’s and Germany’s investment and modernization priorities? How far are these aligned with European, and notably EDA priorities? Will the promised yearly €500m in EU support under the new European Defence Action Plan prove a significant addition to the €20bn Europe’s defence industries already spend on R&D?
Niels Annen is the spokesperson for Foreign Affairs of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag and member of the SPD’s executive committee. He was previously a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund and researcher at the International Policy Analysis (IPA) unit at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. He is a vocal advocate for German engagement in international diplomacy and a supporter of multilateral engagement as a means to resolving today’s crises and conflicts.
Michèle Auga is Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Department for Western Europe and North America. Previously, Auga was Executive Director of FES New York and head of the Africa Department at FES Headquarters, where she also served as a conflict management and crisis prevention desk officer. She has previously managed the FES’ field offices in South Africa, Mali and the Palestinian Territories. She has authored various expert publications on the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and global security issues.
Hans-Peter Bartels is commissioner for the armed forces in the German Bundestag. He was previously an SPD Member of the Bundestag and was the chairman of the Defence Committee. Bartels brings considerable expertise into the political and social dynamics of Germany’s role as a security and military actor.
Philippe Etienne is France’s Ambassador to Germany. He previously served in Germany as the first secretary of the French Embassy in Bonn before German unification, and in Brussels as the French Permanent Representative to the European Union. Throughout his distinguished diplomatic career, Etienne has gained considerable insight and knowledge of the machinery of European politics, and particularly Franco-German relations.
Alain Le Roy is a French diplomat. He previously served as Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, Senior Counsellor at the Cour des Comptes, French Ambassador to Italy, and as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, among others.
Claudia Major is a Senior Associate at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) research division, focusing on international security. She is a member of the Advisory Board for Civilian Crisis Prevention of the Federal Foreign Office and a lecturer at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques/Sciences Po Paris. She has worked at the Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich, at the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the German Council on Foreign Relations.
Alice Pannier is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Research of the French Ministry of Defence (IRSEM) and a Research Associate at the Centre for International Research (CERI) at Sciences Po, Paris. She earned her PhD in Political Science from Sciences Po, with joint supervision from King’s College London. She was a research assistant at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) and an analyst at the French Ministry of Defence. Her research areas include European security and transatlantic relations, French and British defence policies, bilateral and “minilateral” defence cooperation in Europe and contemporary military interventions.
Paul is a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe and the author of Friends of Europe’s European Defence Cooperation report series. A Paris-based journalist, he also writes the “Europe at Large” column for Politico. He previously spent four decades working for Reuters as a foreign correspondent in Paris, Tehran, Bonn and Brussels, as bureau chief in Israel/Palestine, Berlin and Brussels, as chief correspondent in France, as diplomatic editor in London, and finally as European affairs editor. His assignments have included covering the Iranian revolution, the Cold War Euromissile crisis, the 1991 Gulf War, German reunification, the Maastricht summit, France in the 1990s, EU enlargement, the Eurozone crisis and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt.
Pauline Massart leads Friends of Europe’s Peace, Security and Defence pillar, developing the work programme, projects and partnerships on global peace, security and defence issues. She has spearheaded projects such as the think-tank’s global cyber-scorecard and Friends of Europe’s global online brainstorm which gathers thousands of security experts from across the globe. Massart is also Vice-President for Operations and Outreach of WIIS – Women in International Security Brussels.
Uwe Optenhögel is a political scientist and economist, with a PhD from the University of Hamburg, and is the director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s EU office in Brussels. He was the Director of FES’s Department for International Dialogue in Berlin and previously led the foundation’s work in Cuba. Optenhögel served on the editorial board of the Journal of International Politics and Society (IPG) and is currently a member of the European Task Force on Security and Defence, and the Steering Committee of the European Network of Political Foundations (ENOP).
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