Meeting in Brussels on Monday March 21, the foreign and defense ministers were to approve the final version of a text that is supposed to guide the European Union’s external action for the next ten years. The adoption of this “strategic compass” (Strategic Compass), the first of its kind, was hastened by Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine, even as “disbelief dominated until the eve of February 24”date of the outbreak of the offensive, notes Rosa Balfour, director of the Carnegie Europe center.
Neither the war in the former Yugoslavia, nor that which ravaged Syria, nor the annexation of Crimea, nor the declared hostility of the Trump administration, nor the obvious observation of too great an energy dependence on regard to Russia had allowed the adoption of such a text. It will have been necessary for Russia to invade its neighbor for, on the one hand, the Europeans to finally decide to speak with one voice, and for, on the other, this voice to affirm that the return of war in Europe must get the governments to really care about the security of the continent and the defense of the interests of the Union. “The war has finally contributed to creating consensus around European defence”analyzes Nathalie Loiseau, Renew Europe MEP and President of the Defense Sub-Committee in Parliament.
The former Minister for European Affairs calls “good text, necessary and realistic” this initiative which she called for in 2019 and which the High Representative Josep Borrell presented, in the form of a first version, last November. Eastern Europe ” in danger “, he asserted. The new version, largely adapted since the outbreak of the war, speaks this time of a “tectonic change” in the history of the continent.
A rapid deployment force
If the first version, based on a wide consultation and analyzes of the intelligence services, evoked above all new threats such as cyber attacks, large-scale disinformation, instrumentalization of migration – as during the crisis triggered by the Belarus on the Polish border, end of 2021… – the fifth version submitted to the ministers above all underlines the need for Europeans to vigorously defend their interests on the world stage. And this mainly in the face of Russia, this power vis-à-vis which the attitude of the Twenty-Seven oscillated between complacency, naivety and indetermination.
From now on, suggests the High Representative, it must be considered that the actions of the Russian authorities threaten “directly and in the long term” the Union’s security and its defense architecture. Hence the need to invest more in military means and to do so ” better “, that is to say in a coordinated and efficient manner. Faced with what Mr Borrell already described last year as ” Brute force “, it will also require cohesion and political will. “The Ukrainian conflict has brought closer points of view between the countries of Central Europe and those of Western Europe, the three parties of the German coalition have renounced some of their taboos and Emmanuel Macron, who will no doubt be re-elected , may cause the movement”rejoices a diplomat.
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