CESI’s Trade Council ‘Defence’ on the future of the European Defence Union: More rights for citizens in uniform & parliamentary oversight

On the occasion of its last meeting, CESI´s Trade Council “Defence” dealt with the current state of affairs in defence matters. In particular the new reflection paper in European defence as well as new initiatives and proposals, among them also legislative ones, were discussed.

CESI’s Trade Council ‘Defence’ on the future of the European Defence Union: More rights for citizens in uniform & parliamentary oversight

Re-elected Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Sohst (DBwV) chaired the ‘tour de table’ on the latest developments in working conditions for military personnel across Europe.

As the exchange revealed, the main topics of relevance for CESI’s members representing staff in the defence sector discussion remain ongoing privatisations, the need for life-long formation for military and civilian staff, the understaffing of military and civilian personnel, the lack of sufficient training and problems working hours, among others.

From an Irish perspective, the issues of re-qualifying military staff into new professions at the end of the military career (training), underpayment and the impact of Brexit on borders and security turned out to be the most relevant. On the other side, Austrian members expressed their concerns regarding the deployment of military and police to secure internal borders.

A representative of the European Parliament, Dr. Elena Lazarou, gave a brief overview of European Global Strategy and the Defence Package (implementation Plan on Security and Defence, European Defence Action Plan and the implementation of EU/NATO Joint Declaration).

The meeting continued with an official visit to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) where the CESI members meet with the EESC Rapporteur on the European Defence Action Plan and member of the dbb, Christian Moos, and an adviser of MEP Michael Gahler, Gerrit Schlomach, currently working on a European Parliament report on the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The participants in the delegation emphasised the importance of focusing on the human capital with the framing of a European Defence and Security Union. In this context, Thomas Sohst called for the use of parliamentary oversight of the European armed forces.

Altogether the Trade Council underlined the rights of soldiers as “citizens in uniform” and underlined the fact that the civilian and military personnel of the Armed Forces should not be deprived of any of the fundamental rights of freedom, liberty and equality as enshrined in the EU Charter. As a result of the meeting, the Trade Council adopted a position paper on European defence – a position that will be submitted to the Presidium of CESI for final approval.

The CESI Defence Trade Council gathers organisations from the defence sector, military and civilians, in Europe to discuss the working and living conditions of soldiers and civilians in Europe and in third countries. Global challenges and modern warfare demand concerted action through a European Defence Strategy. The working and living conditions of European soldiers has undergone significant changes. The move towards an army of professionals means special attention needs to be paid to the social problems facing defence staff in all EU countries. Working conditions of the sector have to be improved targeting especially psychological restraints imposed, such as post-traumatic-stress-syndrome. The portfolio can be checked here.

Picture: CESI Trade Council ‘Defence’ © CESI 2017