Europe needs to take concrete steps to increase military cooperation – both between national defence establishments and between state and non-state actors, panellists said on 30 June.
They were attending the launch of the final report of Friends of Europe’s 2016 Security Jam. This was a four-day discussion involving close to 2,500 participants from 131 countries, including 48 VIPs, which aimed to come up with new ideas for tacking today’s heightened security threats.
A particular theme of the Jam was the need for governments to work more closely with civil society and the private sector. Such links could help in a variety of ways, in particular in developing early-warning capabilities to anticipate emerging challenges and construct effective responses.
“We have to increase our focus on strategic early warning and forecasting,” said Leendert van Bochoven, Global Lead for National Security and NATO at IBM. For example, information from social media and other sources can assist strategists in making complex decisions. “We will only be able to deal with this through sustained partnership and collaboration. It falls on all of us as jammers to ask ourselves: ‘What are we going to do?’”
Individual European nations should also cooperate more in defence. Belgium and the Netherlands already operate almost as if they had the same navy, said Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs. He was speaking on the day that Belgian decided to invest EUR 9.2 billion in new equipment over the next 15 years, and he emphasised the future importance of European defence cooperation.
“We need to invest more, as the times are changing,” he said. “We need a more integrated policy at European level, but this should come first with concrete steps. It is not useful to talk about a European army.”
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