EU ministers discuss in Brest: More autonomy in security policy

Status: 01/13/2022 3:24 a.m.

What threats are currently dangerous for Europe? EU Foreign and Defense Ministers discuss plans for a new concept of security policy in Brest. The goal is greater military independence.

By Helga Schmidt, ARD-Studio Brussels

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg brought a double message to the European Defense Ministers of the NATO-Russia Council on the French Atlantic coast in Brest. “NATO members remain ready for dialogue with Russia” was the first part. But the second immediately followed: “No compromise on the fundamental issue that each country can decide for itself the way forward”.

So no rapprochement in the dispute over a possible eastern expansion of NATO. Moscow sees the decades-long advance of NATO’s border eastward as a threat, while NATO sees it as the realization of peoples’ right to self-determination. No rapprochement either in the dispute over the deployment of Russian troops. A perfectly normal maneuver for Moscow, but for NATO the concentration of tens of thousands of heavily armed soldiers runs the risk of war against Ukraine.

EU ministerial meeting in France on European security policy

Markus Preiß, ARD Brussels, daily newspaper 2 p.m., 13.1.2022

Because the fronts are bogged down in the big issues, we must now try to progress on a small scale. NATO wants to offer Moscow to reopen the embassies – they have been practically orphaned for months. And we want to go back to the confidence-building measures method. For example, with open information on planned troop movements and maneuvers, but also with a renewal of arms control.

Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht believes this is the right way to go. “It’s about talking to each other – about these differences, but also about looking for solutions.” Transparency and a new disarmament initiative could be “exactly the right way”.

Will Washington and Moscow end up deciding on the heads of Europeans? The question arose last night in Brest, on the sidelines of the talks. But NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg dismissed them with unusual clarity and also with a bit of anger. “There were 30 NATO allies at the table today and 28 of them were European NATO allies,” Stoltenberg reported of the NATO-Russia Council which had already been held in Brussels. . You were sitting at the table, repeated Stoltenberg, and had discussed directly with Russia an issue which was “of the utmost importance for European security”.

Nonetheless – the impression that Europeans somehow fall short of eye level when Moscow and Washington talk about the security of Europe, this impression played out in Brest as well.

Strategic compass: which threats are dangerous?

Today, the ministers want to try to advance a little more projects for more European independence in the field of security policy. The project is called Strategic Compass and the first question is what threats are currently dangerous for Europe – the risk analysis ranges from the Ukrainian crisis to cyber attacks. And then it will be about what the EU can do independently and without the help of the Americans, militarily or diplomatically.

France has long called for more European autonomy in the area of ​​security policy. Defense Minister Françoise Parly assured “naturally within the framework of NATO” on several occasions in order to avoid criticism of possible solo attempts. Nevertheless, many expect France to give the strategic compass, which Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer initiated as Minister of Defense, her own Parisian signature.

It will probably be economic interests – joint investments in large armaments projects and, the Parisian ideal, more European funding for a large security zone in Europe.

Meeting of EU Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministers in Brest

Stephan Ueberbach, ARD Brussels, 13.1.2022 00:04

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