1. This has been agreed
In Brussels, the EU foreign ministers adopted the Strategic Compass. As they say themselves, ‘a new EU strategy paper that ambitiously steers the European security and defense policy for the next 5 to 10 years’.
The idea is to invest more and to cooperate better and more intensively in the field of defence. “The European Defense Fund will play an important role in boosting joint European defense projects,” the cabinet writes in a press release.
A concrete plan in the Compass is the so-called ‘Rapid Deployment Capacity’. That must be a group of 5000 European soldiers who can be quickly mobilized. “It should be operational in 2025.”
Important to mention here: this is not about the so-called flash force, which was much talked about last month when Russia invaded Ukraine. That flash force is part of NATO, and therefore not of the EU. This ‘NATO Response Force’ was recently deployed to protect eastern NATO member states that feel threatened by Russia.
2. The intervention force is not deployed in Ukraine
The agreements made in the Strategic Compass are for the long term and therefore not for the war in Russia. “This is for peace activities in Africa, for example. Also to relieve the Americans,” says Dick Zandee, defense expert at the Clingendael Institute. “So the Russians will not worry too much about these agreements.”
The new power does not have to be used for the current war, because that is what NATO is for, should it come to that. “But improving European capabilities ultimately also serves NATO. They complement each other,” says Zandee. “But the EU is mainly concentrating in this area outside Europe.”
Even if the EU wanted to deploy troops in Ukraine, it won’t. Zandee: “The training sessions will start next year, and the intervention force should be deployable in 2025.”
3. Wait and see to what extent the Netherlands participates
In the past, the Netherlands was not too eager to spend a lot of money on defense. “We have a very bad reputation in this area,” says Zandee. The question is whether we will do that in this case. “We really need to start supplying people and resources now.”
The cabinet writes that ‘the Dutch cabinet will invest an extra EUR 3 billion per year in the armed forces in the coming years, and is currently examining whether more is needed’.
It has been agreed that NATO member states will invest 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (the total value of all goods and services produced in a country in a year) in defence. But the Netherlands – like many other countries – did not achieve that. Germany, among others, has now said that it will invest extra money.
4. This is not a prelude to a European army
More cooperation, more investment, you might think that this is a first step towards a European army. But it certainly isn’t, Zandee assures. “That is going too far. There are collaborations, but the cultural differences are too great for a real European army. Communication is also difficult. A Greek does not speak Norwegian, and so on.”
You will now have more clusters of collaborations, Zandee says. “But a European army is really impossible.”
Source: RTL Nieuws by www.rtlnieuws.nl.
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