Establishing a European Security and Defence Union

Resolution submitted by JEF Political Commission 3: External Affairs and Global Governance.
Adopted by the European Congress in Paris on 27 October 2019. Re-adopted by the Federal Committee in Luxembourg on 10 April 2022.

JEF Europe,

  • Bearing in mind the previous attempts to establish a unified European Defence Community;
  • Regretting the lack of political will of several EU Member States to integrate national defence and security structures;
  • Recalling that European defense is not directed against any other existing state or organization, its objective being the prevention of conflicts and the management of international crises, and calling for it to also have the protection of European territory and of Europeans as its objective;
  • Highlighting that a Common Security and Defence Policy should be an integral part of the EU’s comprehensive approach towards crisis management;
  • Regretting that the Union’s common military means are out of step with its diplomatic ambitions and are insufficiently developed to meet the challenges of the contemporary world;
  • Noting that the level of European integration has already reached such levels that a security challenge in one Member State would affect all other EU members;
  • Bearing in mind the competing interests of different NATO members and the neutrality of some Member States that are not members of NATO;
  • Convinced of the need for cooperation between the EU and NATO in the areas of security and defence;
  • Acknowledging that defence as a concept has lately become wider in scope, covering civilian, cyber and hybrid threats, while we have nonetheless seen that conventional warfare of aggression is still a relevant threat in Europe;
  • Noting with interest the creation of a specific Space and Defence portfolio in the EU Commission;
  • Bearing in mind that any military actions require a fully integrated common foreign policy, defining the common political position, as an essential precondition for the creation of a common strategic culture;
  • Recognising that Brexit led to a significant loss of capability but might create opportunities for deeper integration in the field of defence and security;
  • Acknowledging that Brexit deprived the EU of one of its main intelligence powers, being also a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, and thus increased the dependency of the EU on third countries’ intelligence;
  • Recognising the progress made with the creation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) in 2017, as well as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) in 2019;
  • Appreciating the creation of the European Intervention Initiative as a positive step towards further defence integration but regretting that it was created outside of the EU framework;
  • Affirming the necessity to develop a common strategic culture as put as a priority by the French Presidency in 2022;
  • Strongly supporting Ursula von der Leyen’s pro-EU defence stance as expressed in her keynote speech at the 2021 State of the Union;
  • Acknowledging positively the Military Erasmus Programme as a useful tool for knowledge sharing and creating connections between officers of different Member States’ armed forces which might facilitate future cooperation and integration projects;
  • Regretting the inadequate decision-making process for the use of Battlegroups, which resulted in them never being used;
  • Welcoming the adoption of the Strategic Compass but worrying about political engagement from the Member States needed for its full and meaningful implementation;
  • Stressing that the Strategic Compass ought to align interests, capabilities and desired strategic outcomes serving the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy agenda;
  • Recognising the potential behind the idea of Pooling and Sharing, which stresses the importance of increasing synergies and effectiveness within one security architecture and aims to prevent duplicated structures as opposed to absolute investment goals in terms of GDP percentages;
  • Recognising that the multitude of parallel defence cooperation initiatives and structures can be partially overlapping, thereby creating confusion and inefficiencies;
  • Underlining the importance of having a clear overview of the objectives of a European Defence Union and the capabilities needed to achieve them;
  • Questioning the threshold at which article 42(7) of the Lisbon Treaty can be invoked, following France’s invocation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in November 2015 which exemplifies the limits of a decentralised self-defence system;
  • Acknowledging that the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a fundamental rupture for any European Security and Defence architecture and presents a military, humanitarian and economic threat to Europe;
  • Alarmed that this rupture has caused EU-wide public pressure for significant increase of military spending of Member States, an outdated and worrying answer, showing clearly the need of further integration of competences at the EU level and the application of pooling and sharing to allow efficiency and synergy;
  • Reminding that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union shall be respected in the framing and implementation of a European defence policy.

JEF Europe therefore,

  1. Urges the EU and its Member States to take concrete actions, based on federalist principles, to move towards the creation of a real European Defence Union;
  2. Calls to increase majority voting in the decision-making on defence and security policy, overcoming the unanimity system;
  3. Calls for the European Union to establish by all means the notion that a military attack on one Member State is a military attack on all Member States;
  4. Encourages strengthening of the European defence and security cooperation, including in the fields of civilian crisis management, space and responding to cyber and hybrid threats;
  5. Calls for a European Security and Defence Union to be governed by EU Institutions;
  6. Calls for the European Parliament to have oversight over the EU defence apparatus and the creation of a full Defence and Security Committee in the European Parliament to ensure accountability;
  7. Demands that the Union commits to the limitation, disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons both within Europe and globally, and commits to the existing nuclear weapons, stationed in Europe as part of NATO nuclear sharing, to be under the joint European Defence Force umbrella;
  8. Encourages EU Defence Ministers to determine and optimise areas where additional Pooling and Sharing benefits the overall resilience, crisis management and security and defence capabilities of the Union;
  9. Declares that nationality of a Member State should not be an obstacle to serving in another Member State’s armed forces, preparing the creation of a multinational European force, serving as a nucleus for a future integrated military force;
  10. Strongly encourages the utilisation of the enhanced cooperation mechanism as defined in the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 46, should not every Member State support a step towards integration;
  11. Calls for the short-term integration of Eurocorps as a multinational force into the Common Security and Defence Policy;
  12. Calls for the establishment of a common strategic culture, based on an operative common foreign policy, and respect of the current national strategic cultures;
  13. Urges the EU Member States to move towards a deeper integration of the intelligence community, in order to reduce their dependence on third countries and encourages knowledge-sharing between the EU Member States, as pointed out by Ursula von der Leyen’s proposal of a European Intelligence Agency in her 2021 State of the Union speech;
  14. Recommends the creation of a permanent operational EU headquarters in order to supervise EU operations, with its own permanent civilian-military staff;
  15. Urges the creation of a joint military training academy under the auspices of or in close relation to the European Security and Defence Academy, to foster knowledge-sharing and bring together the best ideas from across Europe;
  16. Calls for the EU to make the new EU Rapid Deployment Capacity envisioned in the Strategic Compass easier to use than the current Battlegroups, i.e. by reforming the decision-making procedure, in order to encourage the use of EU capabilities before the national ones;
  17. Calls for the EU to steer the European defence industry towards further harmonisation, cooperation, integration and defence sector concentration, which would facilitate common procurement of military equipment and technology;
  18. Calls for joint elaboration of uniform European conditions for the export of armaments and dual-use of products from the European Union to third countries, for example, the respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
  19. Similarly, calls on the Member States to purchase European military equipment as a priority, with the aim of a joint procurement structure and achieving a European defence industry tending towards autonomy, and prioritise acquiring military material from third countries with a strong respect for and protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
  20. Demands that any integration within the EU Security and Defence umbrella should be done while bearing in mind that compatibility with NATO is essential;
  21. Demands fully-fledged defence cooperation with EU membership candidate countries;
  22. Calls for the creation of a federal level EU army, uniting the Member States’ air and naval forces, whereas national forces would serve as the primary ground forces;
  23. Calls for the creation of a proper European Security and Defence Union, based on the above-mentioned elements, funded by the EU multiannual financial framework including through proper European own resources.