EU and NATO Strategy: A Compass, a Concept and a Concordat
This analysis of the rivalry between NATO and the EU by Prof Sven Biscop is funny and serious at the same time. The author describes European defence and the Atlantic Alliance as two “churches with their zealous high priests and devoted believers” and recommends taking advantage of the coincidence that in 2021-2022 that the EU is drafting its “strategic compass” and NATO its new Strategic Concept to mend the schism between the two. To this end, he proposes a concordat based on the principle of “supporting and supported”, involving a sharing of responsibilities based on the strengths of each organisation, with both coming to the support of the other, on the basis of the responsibilities set out in this way. This technical burden-sharing could be revised in the future depending on how the strategies and capabilities of the member state of the two organisations evolve.
The author highlights the paradoxical nature of the current situation: “Europeans feel weak and reliant on the US; therefore they shrink back from any initiative that might upset Washington; and so they remain forever weak and reliant on the US”. He also makes a point that is often forgotten: in 1914 and again in 1939, Britain and France went to war to aid Belgium and Poland whereas, as Field Marshal Montgomery wrote, “in two world wars Europe has seen the United States watching from the touchline during the first two years of the war”. Yet the American strategy now focuses on Asia: “Europeans must take into account, therefore, that if the US is engaged in a major contingency in Asia, American reinforcements in case of a simultaneous crisis in Europe might arrive later and in smaller numbers than hitherto foreseen”, the author notes.
This, according to the author, does not mean that there is a case for transferring the organisation of territorial defence to the EU as, under their current capabilities, the Europeans would be able to resist an attack from Russia, but may struggle to liberate any conquered territory on their own. He therefore considers that the concordat should make provision for collective defence to remain the responsibility of NATO and that the EU should not seek to extend its role to planning its territorial defence. Within the Alliance, the member states of the EU (be they allies or partners) should considerably reinforce their conventional capabilities in order to have the necessary resources to face a potential attack from Russia, for instance. For this reason, therefore, Biscop considers that the contribution to NATO of the EU allies and partners should be half of all conventional capabilities required by the NDPP.
The EU should assume the lead and NATO take a supporting role as regards non-military threats, such as a cyber-attack, for instance. With discussions already having taking place on the role NATO could play in the context of a crisis involving China, Biscop considers that this subject is a foreign-policy matter and therefore one for the EU to deal with. Furthermore, NATO should abandon its “missionary zeal” and hand over all expeditionary operations to the EU and its member states, particularly on the southern flank. Although the EU should only consider direct intervention if its vital interests are directly threatened (for instance, if a crisis threatens to: (1) spill over onto EU territory; (2) sever its communications; (3) generate terrorism against the EU; or (4) cause refugee streams towards the EU that can only be managed by ending the crisis), the EU should be prepared to take the lead, even in large-scale combat operations. This responsibility of the EU for the southern flank should include maritime security and lines of communication in the Mediterranean and the Western Indian Ocean. “For NATO, the southern flank will always be a sideshow”, Biscop argues, adding: “the creation, in 2017, of the so-called ‘Hub for the South’, under Allied Joint Force Command Naples, did not change that reality. Instead, NATO should create a new mechanism to allow the EU, or a coalition led by EU member states, direct and flexible access to JFC Naples itself, bypassing the moribund Berlin-Plus arrangement”.
The author rightly points out that neither the NDPP of NATO nor the CDP of the EU are fit for purpose. He suggests that the EU member states set binding targets and include them in the NDPP between the national and the NATO targets so as to arrive at the necessary capability for EU autonomous expeditionary operations on the southern flank within their contribution of 50% of the NATO force posture.
Even taking account of the fact that there is in fact only one reservoir of forces and that a solution needs to be found to harmonise the objectives, I feel that this formula can only increase the EU’s dependency on NATO. If there were to be a concordat, it should be devised not only on the basis of the existing situation, as Biscop seems to insinuate, but should take account of the perspectives adopted by the respective organisations and states. From this point of view, it is first of all for the EU and its institutions clearly to identify the role they wish to see the European Union playing in defence matters. It is nonetheless more than likely that these institutions will continue to serve up the same kind of statements that bear no relation to reality. With or without its “strategic compass”, European defence is very likely to continue to play it by ear, between its capability gaps, the misgivings of the member states, the lack of political will, admonitions from America and the powerful attractive force exerted by NATO on the military. Before any concordat is possible, we need a miracle: for the Europeans to realise that they have a large bundle of common interests and should assure their defence together. (Olivier Jehin)
Sven Biscop. EU and NATO Strategy: A Compass, a Concept and a Concordat. Security Policy Brief no. 141 of the Institut Egmont (March 2021). 8 pages. This analysis can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.egmontinstitute.be
La théorie fédéraliste
This work offers both a history of federalism, using the Philadelphia Convention and the drafting of the American Constitution of 1787 as a starting point, and a passionate analysis of the theoretical evolution of the federal concept since the 18th century.
Lucio Levi, an honorary professor of political science at the University of Turin, stresses right from the introduction that the processes that have more or less been completed both at the level of the European Union and at the level of a number of its member states (Germany, Belgium, Austria, etc.) “represent a response to the death throes of the national state and are the expression of the tendency to create new forms of state of a federative nature going, upwards, beyond the model of the national state and, downwards, thereby creating new levels of government above and within nations”(our translation throughout).
The author recalls that in 1795, Immanuel Kant argued in his project for perpetual peace that only federalism can establish peace. Throughout the entire 19th century, many criticisms of the nation state as a factor in conflicts were voiced. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Constantin Frantz argued that the “national principle and the unitary state are not factors in the development of democracy, but of new forms of oppression (…). They are not factors in peace, but sources of antagonism and unprecedented violence between states”. Proudhon distinguishes between “a spontaneous nationality, which is the result of natural connections between local communities, their territory and their culture, and an organised nationality, which is the result of connections between the State and the individuals living on its territory and which is the expression of the need for a social and cultural uniformity and an exclusive loyalty towards the bureaucratic and centralised State”. “The current French nation is made up of at least 20 separate nations, the nature of which as observed in the people and peasants is highly distinctive (…). The Frenchman is a being of convention, he does not exist (…). Such a large nation can hold together only by means of force. This is the principal purpose of the standing army. Remove that support from the central administration and police service and France will fall into federalism. Local attractions will win the day”, Proudhon argues in an accurate description of France in his day. In France, the 19th century was that of the subjugation and uniformisation of the people, by force if necessary, the mobilisation and trenches of the First World War completing the destruction of local identities to the benefit of a national myth. National fictions are always a source of oppression. “In the social pact, agreed upon in the manner of Rousseau and the Jacobins, the citizen resigns his citizenship and the commune and, above it, the department and province, absorbed into the central authority, are no longer anything but outposts under the immediate management of the ministry. The consequences of this will not be long in making themselves felt: the citizen and the commune lose all dignity, the shamelessness of the State increases and the charges on the taxpayer rise proportionately. This is no longer government made by the people, it is the people made by the government. The power takes over everything, seizes everything, claims everything, for ever”, Proudhon goes on, unwittingly describing the France of today with new super-regions, but all under the same yoke of state. With a few tweaks, the description also applies to other centralised states, such as Spain.
In the same spirit, the Italian Carlo Cattaneo (1801-1869) stated that “each people (meaning peoples in the cultural sense, separate from the nation) can have many interests in dealing with other peoples, but there are interests that it alone can deal with, because it is the only one that feels them, because it is the only one that understands them. Furthermore, there is also in each people the awareness of its being, and also the pride in its own name, and the jealousy of the land of its ancestors. Hence federal law, in other words the law of the peoples, which must have its own place alongside the law of the nation, alongside the law of humanity”. Making the case in 1871 for the “United States of Europe”, the British historian John Robert Seeley considered that the European federation should not be “merely an arrangement between governments, but a real union of the peoples”. He went on to state that “it can never be attained by mere diplomatic methods, or by the mere action of government, but only by universal popular movement (…) large enough in the end to impose the measure upon governments that would in many cases be from instinctive interest bitterly hostile to it”. What is there to disagree with?
As one would expect, the author does not omit to refer to the work of Altiero Spinelli, from the Ventotene Manifesto to the draft Treaty of the European Union approved by the European Parliament in 1984. Levi considers that the form of words “federation of nation states” proposed by Jacques Delors in 1995 represents a “significant attempt to define the nature of the federal institutions in the post-national era”. “It is not about erasing the nations (…), it is more about reshaping them by transforming them into one of the levels of government that should be conserved with its autonomy within a multi-level federal system”, he writes, adding that there are “problems – principally health and well-being policies – that should remain within the remit of the national level”.
If there are “problems”, these should be identified on the basis of efficacy and that has never seemed to me to be the case with health and well-being, which can be best managed at local or regional level, in other words as close as possible to the needs of each population. Any higher level will always deal with the matter not on the basis of local needs, but on the basis of a system of planned economy aiming to achieve the best overall efficiency. Bureaucratic shortcomings and the shortages experienced during the current pandemic are a perfect illustration of this. Health is an area which, in my view, should be shared between the European level (marketing approvals for drugs and single European negotiators to set prices; epidemiological monitoring and recommendations as to stocks and sanitary measures; coverage of citizens when travelling out of their regions of residence, amongst other things) and the infrastructure management level, healthcare staff and equipment and sickness insurance, which should be regional.
Finally, in a Europe surrounded by crises and war, Levi allows himself a touch of great naïveté: “to become independent in security and defence matters, all it will take is for the EU to adopt a small professional army suitable to manage security crises, not just to organise peacekeeping missions, but also economic assistance and political stabilisation (state building)”. An army of Scouts, perhaps? (OJ)
Lucio Levi. La théorie fédéraliste. Presse fédéraliste. ISBN: 978-2-4914-2904-1. 281 pages. €25,00
25 Jahre nach Dayton: Hält der Frieden in Bosnien und Herzegowina?
In this extremely interesting article published in the German bimonthly review on Southeast Europe, Alexander Rhotert and Oliver Rolofs deal with the rising political tension in Bosnia & Herzegovina and the threat this represents to peace. In particular, the authors reiterate the role played by the Bosnian Serb Milorad Dodik (SNSD), who is doing all in his power to “torpedo the integrity of the country”, and president of the largest Croatian party in the country, Dragan Čović (HDZ BiH). On 24 November 2020, Dodik openly attacked the High Representative, the Austrian Valentin Inzko, calling him a “criminal” and a “monster”. The authors express concern at the increasing radicalisation of Serbian separatists, of a potential de facto alliance with Croatian nationalists to dislocate Bosnia and return to a state of warfare. They lament the lack of a response from the EU, but also the lack of interest shown by the German Presidency in Bosnia, leaving the field wide open for Russian interference. To ensure stability, they recommend: (1) a new initiative of the EU and the United States (the familiarity with the dossier of Joe Biden, who has dealt with it previously, may contribute to this) to get back on course and also send out a clear signal to other powers (China, Russia, Turkey and the Gulf states); (2) reinforcing mission Althea by at least one brigade; (3) reinforcing the role of the Office of the High Representative; (4) better use by the EU of its political instruments (such as sanctions) to support the powers of Bonn; (5) sufficient pressure brought to bear by Brussels and Washington to secure genuine support from Serbia and Croatia for the full application of the Dayton agreement. (OJ)
Alexander Rhotert, Oliver Rolofs. 25 Jahre nach Dayton: Hält der Frieden in Bosnien und Herzegowina? Südosteuropa Mitteilungen 06/2020. Südosteuropa-Gesellschaft e. V. ISSN: 0340-174X. 104 pages. €15,00