Europe and its common defence policy in light of events in Libya and Ivory Coast - comments Europe and its common defence policy in light of events in Libya and Ivory Coast 2011-04-24T22:07:57Z 2011-04-24T22:07:57Z <p>Andrea, thanks for this nice contribution, and it's a pitty how far the 27 still are from finding common ground on foreign military action alltogether. Either to increase, harmonise and consolidate 'hard' military means (progress remains piecemeal since the inception of the EDA) or to 'test' mixed civ-mil missions for high-demanding crises like in Libya and Ivory Coast (and likely Yemen, since this country could easily slide into violent catastrophy).</p> <p>Nevertheless, I also wish to correct a factual error in your article : it's 13 active CFSP-missions. I believe you got around the number 20 because there's been in total 24 missions having been initiated under a EU banner since 2003 (11 have been completed). Only 3 of them are purely military. The current state of assets does not allow larger contingencies to be set out in Libya or Ivory Coast really.</p> <p>It's a sad thing that, even though the EU Member States had agreed upon a European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF) in 2003, a year later this joint contingent still appeared to be purely notional, even condemned to ‘paper tiger' status. The idea of EU Battle Groups (the experience of Operation Artemis forged the operational 'template') emerged shortly after, as a means to compensate the loss to put words into action. Yet again, the reluctance of some Member States to actually activate a Battle Group has to do with operational (training, accreditatin, deployment), decisionmaking challenges. Not to mention the costs of sustainability.</p> <p>Many resources are being locked into Operation Althea (running at approximately 2000 military personnel, coming from 20 member states plus 5 contributing countries) and NAVFOR Atalanta (about 1700 military involved). Those are particularly strong commitments, but there's a need to find solid solutions for the increase of crisis situations in the EU 'strategic neighborhood'. James Rogers (Egmont Paper 42) advocates an inclusion of a broad area of Northern Africa and the Gulf States into the broader 'new geography' of European power, yet only a few European nations have the audacity to make additional investments and commitments. Failing a mission because of operational 'overstretch' results in collective face-loss, and thus the EU is quite 'picky' on the type of missions it wishes to engage in. Hubris is a poor guide, and the EU is still in a sort of training mode, learning to cope with very complex operational theaters requiring adaptive and tailored strategies at each mission.</p> <p>The unfortunate effect, is that (belated or lame-duck) statements seem to make up the frontline of what the EU is prepared to do in the face of the groundbreaking political and societal shockwaves happening in the Maghreb, the Arab Peninsula and Syria.</p>