Representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European External Action Service, NATO, civil society organisations, academia and trade unions discussed CESI´s proposal to establish a permanent platform on European defence policies. The breakfast was moderated by Steven Blockmans, head of the CEPS EU Foreign Policy unit.
According to CESI, the European Union of today needs to be based on more democratic and transparent practices, and this particularly applies to the defence sector. A 2017 Eurobarometer survey revealed that 55% of the EU citizens are in favour of creating an EU army and this opens a window of opportunity for a future European Defence Union (EDU). However, the complexity and lack of transparency endanger success.
MEP Lukas Mandl and CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger opened the event by emphasizing the importance of a more democratic and transparent frame when establishing the EDU and of taking into consideration the interests of civilian and military personnel of the armed forces and their representatives.
Trade unions are not only an important factor to make sure missions and restructurings are socially fair and sustainable. They are also the decisive link to make sure that EU initiatives in the defence sector are supported by those having to implement it – and not least by the citizens.
The EDU, in order to be successful, urgently needs to consider the “human factor”. “Soldiers are also citizens in uniform, the consideration and protection of their interests is urgently required“, Thomas Sohst, President of CESI´s Trade Council Security insisted.
CESI President Romain Wolff concluded the event as follows: “Today, a first important step was taken. Let´s hope to establish the ERDT as a permanent platform because involving representatives of the civilian and military personnel of the armed forces will be decisive for the success of the EDU.”