Security strategy needs updating

21 November 2008

In 'Adapting the EU’s approach to today’s security challenges', the Committee look in detail at the 2003 ESS and praise it as a clearly drafted and concise document. However the Committee look at challenges which have emerged for the EU since 2003 and argue that the revision of the strategy should take account of the changed circumstances over the last 5 years. It argues that implementation of the Strategy should now be a key area of focus

Climate Change is identified as the most important development since 2003 that should be included in any updated ESS. The Committee argue that climate change is ‘a fundamental challenge of our times’ which can act as a threat multiplier and an exacerbating factor of human insecurity and conflict. The Committee call on the EU to pay more attention to helping developing nations adapt to the effects of climate change, including through technology transfer and the making available of greater budgetary resources

The Committee say the risks and opportunities of the EU’s relationship with Russia should be made clearer in the review of the ESS. They argue that the conflict in Georgia has underlined the importance of Russia for European security and assert that the revised ESS should refer to the challenge Russia presents both as a partner and a source of risk and instability. The EU should continue to take a firm stance on principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, while showing sensitivity to Russia’s genuine concerns. However the Committee praise examples of the EU working with Russia on security issues including the contribution of Russian helicopters to EU military operation in Chad.

The Committee recommend that the ESS should recognise the importance of energy security in the wider security framework. In particular a key objective of EU security policy should be greater diversification of energy sources and routes of transportation into Europe to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian oil and gas imports.

The Committee consider EU enlargement and conclude that it has played a key role in strengthening democracy and improving security in potential new member states. The Committee concludes that the enlargement process contributes to European security by building areas of stability and good government on Europe’s borders. The Committee also praises the role of the European Neighbourhood Policy in constructing security and stability in the EU’s wider neighbourhood.

The report also identifies conflict resolution and development issues as being key factors in European security and recommends they are given greater priority in a revised ESS. The Committee assert that achieving human security and resolving conflicts in developing countries are vital to the security of the EU. They argue that tackling the root causes of conflict and radicalisation including poverty, inequality and poor governance will be of increasing importance. The Committee call for the EU to devote greater emphasis and resources to early conflict resolution and prevention.

The Committee call on the Member States to develop the necessary military and civilian capabilities needed for EU missions. as implementation of the Strategy should now be the key focus. They express concern that, despite improvements in the deployment of the EU’s missions abroad, the EU still suffers from major shortfalls in provision of military and civilian capabilities by its Member States. Greater resources are needed if its capacity to act is not to reach its limit. They also argue that Member States should not impose caveats on the deployment of their troops on EU missions.

The Committee also recommend that the ESS be reviewed every 5 years to ensure it continues to focus on the most pressing security issues facing Europe at any one time.

Commenting Lord Roper, Chairman of the Lords EU Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development, said:

"The European Security Strategy of 2003 has been a key document in focusing the minds of Member States and the EU institutions on the security challenges we all face. However it is now been in place for 5 years and in updating it, it is important we reflect on new threats that have emerged in that time.

"Relations with Russia, development issues and climate change are all issues that have come to the forefront of security thinking in the EU since 2003 and it is vital the ESS reflects their importance.

"We also feel that EU expansion and the prospect of membership have been significant carrots in encouraging neighbouring countries to adopt democracy and the rule of law more quickly than might otherwise have been the case. We therefore feel it is important that the potential for EU expansion is maintained as this will contribute to the EU’s security on its borders.

"It is important the EU has the capability to meet its security needs. Member States should do more to ensure they provide adequate military and civilian support to the EU’s missions abroad."

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