[email protected] on proper and transparent decision-making in the field of EU defence policy

CESI’s European Defence Round-Table (EDRT), hosted by MEP Lukas Mandl, met again on the 3rd of March 2021 for the second time to exchange on the current state of the European Defence Union (EDU) during COVID19.

During the pandemic it has become even more obvious than before that military and civilian armed forces are indispensable resources. A crisis of such magnitude revealed the crucial importance of well- trained, well-equipped, motivated and not least available military personnel to compensate for the deficits of distribution, public health and law enforcement: from the transport of patients, medical equipment, medicines and vaccines, to the provision of medical assistance, the enforcement of lockdown measures and the maintenance of public safety and order – military forces were of vital value.

Together with CESI members, think-tanks and representatives of EU institutions the most striking backlashes and developments in the Corona year were given a closer look. The participants agreed that, to be successful, the ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy) and the EDU (European Defence Union), should allow a structured commitment and engagement not only of lawmakers, but also by the citizens, the civil society and, not least, the military and civilian personnel of the armed forces itself.

“We need a democratic vision for our defence future” MEP Lukas Mandl underlined. And Thomas Sohst, representative of the ‘Deutscher Bundeswehrverband’ (Association of the German Army) added: “We need to introduce a social dimension into the EDU. Soldiers are citizens in uniform, and they must benefit from and be protected by the same fundamental rights.”

The participants agreed on the presence of a window of opportunity: “The main actors should capitalise on the great efforts of the civilian and military personnel to alleviate the consequences of the pandemic. Now they return to their initial tasks – and continue ‘winning’ the support of EU citizens,” Thomas Sohst concluded.

CESI will continue to advocate for the formal establishment of a inclusive EDRT.