The future of the EU is about global crisis management

#CriticalThinking

Peace, Security & Defence

Picture of Heinz Gärtner
Heinz Gärtner

The European Union should become a collective security organisation. The concept of collective security aims to enhance security amongst member states, while the concept of collective defence is aimed against an outside enemy.

The future of the EU is not in collective or territorial defence but in global crisis management. In the July 2015 report entitled “The European Union in a changing global environment: A more connected, contested and complex world”, the High Representative Frederica Mogherini requested “a common, comprehensive and consistent EU global strategy.” The report goes on to say that “as NATO refocuses on territorial defence, CSDP can work with NATO to sharpen its focus on crisis management and hybrid threats.”

With this in mind, the Lisbon treaty’s clause on security obligations should be dropped. According to this clause, member states must provide each other with “aid and assistance by all means in their power” in case of armed aggression towards a member state. This includes the promise to use military force. But the Lisbon treaty also includes the so-called Irish Formula, which states that this article “shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states”. The exception is not only valid for the neutral and non-aligned states, but also for NATO members, therefore offering an opt-out of all. The exception clause thus calls into serious question the treaty’s meaningfulness.

Article 8.1 of the Lisbon treaty states that “the Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union.” This basically says: ‘Accept our values then we will talk to you!’ This too needs to be dropped from the treaty. We learned from the détente period of the Cold War that the reverse is true. First came the Helsinki Accords, and after this diplomatic success the civil rights groups found more room of manoeuver.

A solution for Ukraine without Russia is not possible. But diplomacy is not just talking to each other; there has to be an offer that can save face for Ukraine, the West and Russia. Austria’s model could provide an answer. Austria is a member of the European Union but not of NATO. In addition to its neutrality, a State treaty also guaranteed that Austria would not join a union with Germany, as had happened in 1938 with the Anschluss. In the case of Ukraine, such a prohibition for the country in whole or in part together with neutrality could guarantee the unity of Ukraine.

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