Center for Strategic Decision Research


The European Security Dimension

His Excellency Sergio Mattarella
Defense Minister of Italy

It is particularly significant that this workshop on the European dimension of security is taking place in Berlin. Indeed, for more than 40 years this city has symbolized both the division of the European continent and the Achilles's heel of its security. In 1989 a popular, peaceful uprising in Berlin led to the restoration of a united Europe, a Europe that was divided for too long. It is therefore especially important and symbolic that we are speaking about common European security in a Berlin that has regained its role as a major European capital. It is perhaps not a coincidence that it was in Berlin that some very courageous ideas were expressed recently-ideas that will certainly be stimulating for Europe's political and institutional future. As someone who comes from Italy, a country that is equally aware of its role and responsibilities in the birth and the construction of the European Union, I consider that these ideas augur well for the work of this conference.


In my opinion, the construction of a Common European Security and Defense Policy (CESDP) represents a new challenge to European integration, following the milestone of a monetary union. Both the common currency and the common policy are decisive and distinct elements of the future European political entity. Those who agree with me that our ultimate objective is European political integration cannot but agree as well that a European Security and Defense Policy represents a powerful incentive toward increased federalism following the achievement of a common market and a common currency. But there is another common element between economic policy and security policy. Just as the economic sphere has today assumed a global dimension that transcends the European geographic area, so too has the European Security and Defense Policy, which is and, in my opinion, will remain closely connected with the broader context of European-Atlantic security. Indeed I believe that the European Security and Defense Identity, that is to say, the strengthening of the European pillar within the Alliance, and the development of a Common European Security and Defense Policy in the framework of the European Union represent separable but not separate components that are part of the process of constructing a European Security and Defense Dimension (ESDD).

I am aware that in the debate on European defense, there are some who believe that the European initiative in the security and defense sector could engender misunderstandings, or even divisiveness, with our Allies on the other side of the Atlantic, to the point where Europeans and North American Allies might "de-couple" and the North Americans disengage from European security. Others, while understanding and supporting the need for a greater European effort, believe that the Atlantic framework in its present form constitutes an adequate response, including for the new security scenarios.

Still others are of the opinion that the NATO-EU relationship should develop within the context of a strict hierarchy between the two organizations. And still others go so far as to imagine a substantial degree of European autonomy in the security field. It seems to me that all these positions are more a reflection of the hopes and fears of those who hold them than the expression of the reality that we are trying to build together for the European dimension of security and defense.

Ten years have passed since the basic parameters of the strategic security framework in the Euro-Atlantic area underwent a complete transformation. In a world characterized by an extraordinarily rapid evolution in all sectors, particularly in the technology field, it is difficult to imagine how the transatlantic political-institutional system of the past could remain unchanged forever. Political leaders as well as ordinary citizens are aware of this, to a greater or lesser degree. The only people still clinging to their hard and fast positions are intellectual conservatives who identify stability with immobility. Such a vision of the world is hardly a positive one, and is difficult to defend in a political-strategic scenario as dynamic as today's.

Reason tells us that the old formulas for European security are no longer adequate; indeed, our experience in Bosnia and Kosovo confirms this analysis and highlights for both Europe and the Alliance a striking deficiency in the means and structures needed to respond adequately to the new security challenges. Today's risks are much more complex, diffuse, and multi-directional than those of the past, and, therefore, require more diversified responses. Since security is by its very nature multi-dimensional, measures to prevent and eliminate the causes of risks are also an integral part of the management and implementation of a security policy.

Earlier in 1999, rhetorical questions were asked in the press regarding who is taking on the thankless tasks and doing the dirty work in the Balkans. Those who know the reality of the recent conflicts in the Balkan region and of that area's difficult recovery know that such questions are unfair and even detrimental to Euro-Atlantic solidarity. Thousands of men and women, both civilian and military, working for governments as well as NGOs, have been carrying out demanding, difficult, dangerous, and often less than glorious tasks for the past five years, and are still doing so in order to win the battle for peace in Southeastern Europe.


Those who talk about interlocking institutions know that many diverse contributions are all equally necessary in order to achieve our one objective. Italy, which is by no means in last place in terms of the men, means, and resources directed toward Southeastern Europe, sees daily the extent to which all Allies contribute to peace and security in that region during this difficult post-war phase of social, political, institutional, and economic reconstruction. This shared commitment constitutes the very foundation of the Alliance's values, as well as its future. In this context, an increased European initiative in the field of security would be a positive element in the Alliance's adaptation process, as well as in the strengthening of the transatlantic relationship. As my colleague Lamberto Dini said recently in Florence on the occasion of the Ministerial Council meeting: "More Europe in the field of defense means more Alliance, and more Alliance means more Europe." I am convinced that the political vision enshrined in that formula is the best way in which Europeans and Allies can perceive fully the raison d'être, the quality, and the effectiveness of the new Alliance. From the Atlantic perspective, the ESDI means a European pillar capable of dealing with the new challenges in a framework of security shared with all Allies, one that enables everyone to better calibrate their participation.

It also means an Alliance based on a dynamic and more balanced interaction between its two main components, keeping common security truly indivisible and shared. From the European perspective, the incorporation of the WEU and the development of a European Security and Defense Policy require that the European Union embark on a process of renewal and adaptation, going well beyond merely institutional aspects. The Union must assimilate and develop the elements of a security culture, something that until now has been basically alien to it but that will be indispensable from this time forward in order to deal with the new scenarios.


In my opinion, there are four principal elements needed to develop a European Security and Defense Policy: (1) institutional governance, (2) the reform of military instruments, (3) efficient military spending, and (4) the reorganization of the European defense industry.

Institutional Governance

In Helsinki, Sintra, and Lisbon, new institutional organs were defined to temporarily govern the European Security and Defense Policy: the Political Security Committee, the Military Committee, and the European Military Staff. In Feira, these interim institutional arrangements should be confirmed and strengthened, and provisions made for their development. Our objective is to define permanent arrangements by the end of the year 2000.

In this context, I believe that the role of the Political Security Committee and the action taken by the High Representative for the Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, will be especially important in giving impetus and coherence to the European Security and Defense Policy. The real added value of the Political Security Committee, in my opinion, lies in its ability to serve as the guiding organ for crisis management. In that regard, instituting effective interaction between the Political Security Committee and the NAC will facilitate and consolidate a relationship based on confidence and transparency between the Union and the Alliance, in line with what we decided together in Washington and Helsinki and reaffirmed in Florence. In Feira we hope to approve temporary liaison mechanisms between the European Union and NATO and set up joint expert working groups to analyze issues of common interest. By the end of the year 2000, we expect to make a common decision on definitive arrangements and to establish mechanisms for managing relations between the two organizations.

Personally, I believe that the Security and Defense Policy, precisely because of its implications for the use of military force, has a specific connotation that makes it unique and not immediately applicable to the handling of other policies. European governments will be challenged to find a way to reconcile the specificity required for effective management of the Security and Defense Policy with the unitary quality of the Union's overall institutional framework.

Reform of Military Instruments

In Helsinki, we set an ambitious yet realistic objective: to achieve, by the end of 2003, an initial operational capability based on a European rapid projection army corps of between 50,000 and 60,000 troops. These troops will be supported by adequate naval and air forces capable of being deployed in crisis areas within 60 days and having operational and logistical sustainability of at least one year. This would allow them to conduct Petersberg-type missions and eventually avail themselves of NATO assets and capabilities.

The interim Military Committee has begun the technical work of elaborating the Headline Goal, which should receive concrete responses from the member-countries at a Pledging Conference planned for fall 2000. At that time the countries will make known their national contributions to this common European objective, highlighting once again the European countries' lack of operational capabilities.

It is clear that these inadequacies will have an effect on the process to construct the European defense, as well as on the European capabilities that are available to the Alliance. In overcoming these deficiencies, as is necessary, each national contribution will be valuable on two levels-European and Atlantic-thus giving expression to the solid link between the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance.

In concrete terms, we must seek to attain improved military capabilities in the fields of interoperability, availability of projectable professional forces, strategic mobility, command, control, communications, surveillance, intelligence, precision engagement, and self-defense, and in the ability to operate in environments at risk because of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These are the priority areas identified in the Atlantic Alliance's Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI). It is essential that there be convergence, in terms of operational capabilities, between the European Defense Initiative and the DCI.

Efficient Military Spending

According to an often-cited U.S. study, the European countries, taken together, devote to defense about 60% of what the U.S. spends, while their operational and projection capabilities represent only 10 to 15% of those of the United States. It is easy to see that the price of the lack of European convergence is staggering. A recent estimate by high-level NATO military authorities states that the cost of the operational gap between the United States and the EU amounts to about 30 billion dollars. Such estimates, of course, can be debatable in absolute terms, but nonetheless are symptomatic of a very real phenomenon of a political as well as an operational nature.

I say political because the military gap that has been created between Europe and the United States induces one to reflect simultaneously on both decision-making and operational capabilities. Simply put, the disparity in military capabilities could cause an operational as well as a political rift between the United States and Europe-which could jeopardize European security. The ongoing debate on a National Missile Defense (NMD), beyond its merits, highlights the very real political risk of a European security-U.S. security uncoupling.

In this context, it is unrealistic to think that a simple restructuring and streamlining of the European countries' forces, however necessary that process may be, will sufficiently modernize European military instruments to reduce the operational gap. European spending, of course, must be optimized in all sectors, but investment and spending on advanced technology must certainly be increased.

The convergence process must be aimed at reducing the so-called overhead present in our military instruments, and concentrate on the structures that direct and support our operational forces. The process must gradually integrate military requirements, both for operational needs and acquisition practices. In order to achieve the DCI objectives established by NATO as well as the Headline Goals set by the European Union, the convergence of European defense policies is no longer optional but rather a necessity. Once a homogeneous framework for current European military spending is defined, it would be appropriate and useful to indicate how the European countries can gradually adopt qualitative standards for military spending and identify criteria by which to measure convergence. Some of these criteria could be military spending expressed as a percent of GDP, the ratio between spending for investment and spending for operations, the percent of expenditures devoted to research and development, levels of per-capita military spending, and the number of available professional forces compared to the population.

All of these indicators currently show a high degree of disparity among the European countries; convergence criteria must be defined in order to enable each to contribute fairly toward the attainment of our common objective: improved European military capability. The adoption of convergence criteria for military spending, handled in a flexible rather than a rigid manner as it was for the common currency, would greatly facilitate the efforts to achieve an effective European Security and Defense Policy.

To this end, it could be helpful to encourage within European institutions discussions of decision-making processes for European defense convergence. Criteria will be needed for both the financial and the operational aspects; the classic financial indicators would be useful for achieving genuinely available operational capabilities. Such capabilities would constitute the real measure for comparing the contribution of each European country to the objectives of the European and Atlantic Security and Defense Policies.

The Restructuring of the European Defense Industry

Common operational requirements and coordinated or common acquisition processes will facilitate the creation of a wider European defense market, comparable to that of the United States. This, in turn, will stimulate broader competition and greater growth opportunities for the European defense industry. In addition, the ongoing process of consolidation among the European defense companies is narrowing the gap that resulted from the many important mergers that took place in the United States.

Convergence is definitely necessary in order to achieve competition on a global scale, though it will be important to avoid creating two markets separated by rigid protectionism-a "Fortress Europe" and a "Fortress America," as they are called. The rationalization of the two industrial bases, one already achieved in the United States and the other underway in Europe, should leave room for action based on sound and efficient policies of industrial cooperation. In this regard, I think it is useful to mention a good example of such transatlantic industrial cooperation as it relates to advanced technology programs. I refer to the Italian-German-U.S. program called MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defense System), an anti-missile-defense system with ATBM capabilities.

The reorganization of the European industrial base, leading to the creation of transnational companies, should also give impetus to a European convergence process for defense-industrial policies and legislation. Such convergence should lead to the gradual formation of a European common market for defense, eliminating the protectionist tendencies inherent in the Treaty of the European Community.

An initial concrete step in this direction could be taken with the signing of a Letter of Intent by six countries with a highly developed defense industry-France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Sweden. This step would be an agreement in principle and establish common norms and practices in several key areas of the legislation in this sector. Another promising step toward cooperation is OCCAR, the four-country (France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) organization that I hope will prove to be the embryo of a future European Armaments Agency.


The process that has begun to create a European Security and Defense Dimension now is irreversible, but it must move forward with wisdom and balance, with full transparency and complementarity between the two shores of the Atlantic. Only in this way will we preserve the synergy between the two pillars that is fundamental to common Euro-Atlantic security, the transatlantic relationship, and the process of European integration. The next milestone will enable us to measure the distance that still separates the vision from the reality. I hope, indeed I am convinced, that with the commitment of all Allies, that distance will steadily decrease.


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