Center for Strategic Decision Research


Europe's Security and Defense Structure

His Excellency Apostolos Tsohatzopoulos
Defense Minister of Greece

Today we are at a turning point in the development of the European security defense structure, a structure that is based on the parallel efforts of the European Union and the new NATO as they work to implement the Washington, Cologne, and Helsinki resolutions. These resolutions, as you are all aware, pertain to two European Security and Defense key axes of development: the European Security Defense Policy, developed within the framework of the European Union; and the European Security and Defense Identity, developed within NATO.

Founded on the principles of cooperation, coordination, and solidarity, these two policies are complementary in character and have no possibility of becoming competitive. This is because Europe needs a strong, transatlantic link: because security within the Euro-Atlantic area is indivisible; because its own defense and security require unhindered access to NATO's assets and capabilities as well as the possibility of participation by all European allies in peacekeeping operations decided on by the European Union; and because the security problems on the European continent are so complex and the crises there so intense, destructive, and destabilizing that the effort to create permanent conditions of peace, security, and cooperation requires the mobilization of all available forces within the global security structure. Such mobilization incorporates three independent and complementary levels: the Euro-Atlantic level, with NATO as the main axis; the European level, based on the European Security Defense Policy; and the regional cooperation level, where, particularly in the Balkans, significant steps already have been taken.


Apart from the reasons just mentioned, Europe has one more powerful reason to develop its own security and defense. With the establishment of the euro as the common currency, Europe has substantially completed its economic integration, and has now set out to promote its political integration through the development of a common foreign policy. However, in order to be effective, such a policy requires the parallel development of a credible security and defense policy. To that end, the Headline Goal established by the European Union during the Helsinki Summit constitutes a crucial objective, the implementation of which will upgrade the credibility of the European Union and strengthen the transatlantic link. This in turn will allow European armed forces to play a more important role within the framework of the common efforts of the European Union and NATO to establish peace, security, and cooperation in the area.

Effective and well-balanced participation and cooperation between the two organizations, plus the availability of appropriate NATO assets and capabilities for use in operations conducted under the political responsibility of the European Union, will significantly enhance Europe's role in security. It will also lead to greater European responsibility and participation in fulfilling common security needs and ensures that the challenges within the modern international environment are effectively met. Experience gained by cooperation between the Western European Union and NATO has already proved the value of the NATO-European plan for enhancing European security as well as enabled NATO to solve a number of practical problems. The experience gained through the Dynamic MIX 2000 (CRISEX 2000) exercise should also help us to cooperate much more effectively.


One thing we must do is consider which existing NATO-Western European Union arrangements and mechanisms can be used to develop future cooperation between the European Union and NATO, taking into account the institutional independence and the particular focuses of these organizations. To help with this process, I would like to mention certain requirements learned from the Western European Union experience.

  • First, we must develop the European Union's ability to strategically evaluate an operation and its joint planning in a way that assures both an independent decision and the easy adaptation of NATO's defense-planning requirements.
  • Second, a coherent chain of command must be elaborated.
  • Third, regarding force development, a clear procedure must be detailed in which the contributions of those countries willing to participate in a European operation can be assessed in a timely manner and integrated effectively with operation planning.

Equally important in developing future cooperation between the two organizations is enabling cooperation at the military-planning level, establishing a continuous flow of information, and securing the necessary transparency and coordination. This requires a security agreement between NATO and the European Union in which we should take under serious consideration those countries that are candidates for membership in the European Union but are not members of NATO.


Let me add that the strategic choice made by the European Union in favor of a credible and effective European Security and Defense Policy would lack a solid foundation without the parallel development of a modern, vigorous, and dynamic European armaments industry. To this end I would like to mention the efforts made by the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG) from the OCCAR and the LoI that are promoting the co-development and co-production of an interoperable, high-quality, and low-cost European defense system.

The cost problems of such defense work are very clear, I believe. All of us are facing these high costs in our own countries. But the costs to meet the defense needs of some European countries are relatively low, while the costs for other European countries with very high military budgets-we are one of them-are double what other countries are paying. We are not happy about this. That is the reason why, for the European Union defense and security strategy, it is being proposed that convergence criteria and standards be created as necessary.

Cooperation between the European defense industry and the American defense industry must also be a priority. This is a serious step needed to support the transatlantic link, and the U.S. needs to be more flexible. We have had many difficulties, as you know, because to buy armaments from the U.S. we need the Letter of Agreement (LOA) from the U.S. government, and receiving this agreement is not always possible. Developing effective cooperation in the area of defense between European countries and the U.S. seems difficult when, even in the simple market for armaments, we have some problems. We would therefore wish the lifting of those obstacles in order to develop in a mutually beneficial way the unimpeded cooperation between European and American industries.



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