Reaction by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Sohst, member of the Board of the German Armed Forces Association, following the European Council Conclusions of 22 – 23 June 2017

On the occasion of the latest European Council meeting which took place last week in Brussels, Member States discussed and took a stance on a number of important topics such as security and defence, migration and digital Europe (cybersecurity strategy). In response to the decisions taken in the field of a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the European Union, Lieutenant- Colonel Thomas Sohst, Chairman of the West Regional Council of German Armed Forces Association, made the following comment.

“It is not clear to which extent the new European policies and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the field of defence and security will manage to build the common European Defence Union but it is clear that more Europe is not only needed to ensure peace and security for its citizens, but will come.”

The European Council adopted conclusions on security and defence, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the economy, migration and digital Europe. More concretely, the conclusions on security and defence refer to the need for more Europe in the fields of:

• Internal security and the fight against terrorism
• External security and defence

In a nutshell, the Council agreed that more efforts are needed to strengthen cooperation between law enforcement authorities and industry for an early detection of online content linked to terrorism. The agreements on the Entry/Exit System together with the finalisation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) are other efforts meant to increase the internal dimension of security. Anti-radicalisation is also high on European Agenda, linked to the works of RAN, the Radicalisation Awareness Network. The nexus between the internal and external dimensions of security is becoming more entangled and the Council Conclusions reinforce the idea of the two dimensions mutually strengthening EU security, through the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence and the Joint EU-NATO Warsaw Declaration. The nature of security threats has changed in the last years and in order to address them better the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats has been created. In addition to that, the forthcoming operationalisation of the European Defence Fund is expected to create positive externalities. Last but not least, the Council agreed to launch the already mentioned Permanent Structured Cooperation, aimed at strengthening Europe’s security and defence.

The conclusions of the meeting can be consulted more in depth here.