EUROMIL Welcomes the adoption of CSDP annual report

On Wednesday 28 February the plenary session of the European Parliament adopted the annual Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) report. EUROMIL welcomes the adoption of such an important report with the aim of strengthening European defence. Undoubtedly, today’s geopolitical environment requires the EU to boost its defence capabilities and become a stronger and more capable partner, interoperable and in complementarity with NATO. Support to Ukraine for as long as needed is stated in various paragraphs in the report, as for instance through the European Peace Facility (EPF) or the European Union Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM). Regarding the latter, it has proven essential for meeting the training needs of the Ukrainian soldiers.

However, it is also essential to note that article 36 underlines one important issue that arise as a consequence of the war, the one of mental health of both military personnel and Ukrainian citizens. EUROMIL has been for long now raising such issues which should be a top priority during the reconstruction phase, but planning needs to start now.

Another part of the report focuses on the implementation of the Strategic Compass, whereas the necessary political will and action – in financial terms too – is deemed essential. To continue, the operationalisation of the Rapid Deployment Capacity (RDC) represents a milestone for European defence cooperation; articles 24-25-26 analyse the concept and stress that the RDC needs to be composed of at least 5000 troops, while the Member States need to work on the modalities of article 44, whereas a coalition of willing and able Member States can conduct missions and operations. Given MILEX23, the European Parliament calls on the Member States and the EEAS to ensure that such exercises benefit from the common costs’ mechanism. Hence, more incentives for higher participation by the Member States to also reach the main goal to create a standing force. Military personnel participating in such tasks, that train and work together side by side, should also enjoy same social and working rights, as also stated at the European Parliament resolution on RDC.

Another important aspect for military personnel is to include gender mainstreaming in defence policy making, while implementing the women, security, and peace (WSP) agenda. Following the Strategic Compass, gender advisors should be deployed to all CSDP missions and operations, while also the Member States must ensure that women have the same career choices as their male counterparts in defence forces. Gender equality in defence also represents a core mission of EUROMIL, that advocates for gender equal, inclusive, and diverse Armed ForcesBesides, environmental advisors need to also be deployed to all missions and operations, as well as for the armed forces to be well equipped and trained to deal with emerging threats and challenges as climate change.

On an important but often neglected topic of issues on recruitment and retention of personnel in the European Armed Forces, the report pays high importance. In details, article 48, underlines the European armed forces face severe recruitment and retention problems. Thus, it is essential to analyse such issues by gathering data and identifying solutions, such tasks could be carried out by the HRVP and the EUMC. Besides, a real European defence union should be able to commonly tackle such obstacles by also building a common military culture. The European Security and Defence College has an important role to play in this regarding, by creating specialised modules for members of the Armed forces.

The report also focuses on the various actions to strengthen the European defence industry and the European defence industrial and technological base (EDITB) through greater joint procurement to build common strategic culture and threat perception, while making the various instruments -EDIRPA, ASAP, CARD, PESCO- more coordinated with each other.

Lastly, the report also touches the recent but much discussed topic of a European defence Commissioner. According to the report, such a post should be responsible for a true European defence union with all related defence and CSDP matters.

Overall, it has become apparent that the European Union is accelerating into moving towards greater defence cooperation and can gradually build a true European defence union. But, in this process the social and working rights of military personnel should not be neglected otherwise the foundation of a strong Europe on defence will not be strong one.

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