Center for Strategic Decision Research


The European Union's Plans for Meeting The New Security Challenges

Lieutenant General Rainer Schuwirth
Director General, European Union Military Staff

The risks and threats that exist on our globe have not changed principally since September 11. All of us have known these risks and threats, including terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, for many years. We have made numerous attempts and passed numerous declarations to address them again and again. 

What has changed is that suddenly we are no longer involved in an academic discussion. Let us hope that this new condition produces a lasting awareness and the resolve to take the steps needed to be better prepared for future challenges. 

These challenges will not involve the fight against terrorism alone. The whole spectrum of risk and threat factors will continue to exist, including the 30 to 35 crises currently in effect on our globe. The roots of these crises are quite different, principally well known, and often combined or linked. 


The tragedies of September 11 have given rise to numerous initiatives. I would like to mention just a few from the EU point of view. 

Following the guidelines determined by the EU Council on 21 September 2001, the EU created a road map for fighting terrorism. This plan includes combined efforts by the three European pillars: the Commission, the intergovernmental CFSP/ESDP, and the department of Justice and Home Affairs. Together these entities cover such areas as foreign and security policy, the economy, humanitarian aid, the police and the military, and judicial affairs and instruments such as EUROPOL and EUROJUST. 

Activities have been developed in line with and in support of UNSCR 1373, which was passed on 28 September 2001. The objectives are to form common approaches against terrorism and to improve cooperation and coordination. This work includes preventing the financing of terrorism, effecting police and judicial cooperation, border control, the exchange of information, aviation security, and preventing the falsification and misuse of identity papers. 

The EU considers improved civilian protection primarily a civil task; the Commission is now coordinating the addition of this task to the principal national authority. The most important tasks for CSFP/ESDP are of a diplomatic nature, and are aimed at establishing and maintaining common approaches to fight terrorism. These approaches include information sharing and the evaluation and adoption of common political activities in close cooperation with other countries and regions beyond the EU member-state area. 

In the military field, we have started to analyze to what extent it may be necessary to improve capabilities to protect forces employed in crisis management operations from the dangers of terrorism. However, we see clearly that the main use of the military element within the framework of ESDP is not for defensive measures within the EU. Collective defense remains an issue for NATO and CFSP/ESDP focuses on areas of activity outside the EU. 

Certain areas require speedy progress. One of these is the establishment of permanent relations with NATO and the improvement of European military capabilities, particularly concerning C4ISR, deployability and effectiveness. The European Capability Action Plan has been designed to better harmonize the areas of research, development, and procurement in order to improve the input/output relation. Needless to say we should never lose sight of the indispensable interoperability our forces must be capable of, be they NATO-led or EU-led. This is especially true in regard to the Helsinki Headline Goal, which was not meant to create a "Standing European Rapid Reaction Force" but to identify force elements within member-states' force structures that can be put together on a case-by-case, tailored basis. 

We must also remember that we should not use particular operations as the only blueprints for future challenges. After the Gulf War, many thought that the lessons learned there would be the basis for future challenges. This was wrong. We are learning different lessons in Afghanistan and learned other lessons from operations in the Balkans. The next crisis may be quite different again. 


To meet the challenges of the future, I believe we need to do the following things: 

  • Keep all the risk and threat possibilities under consideration while fighting the war against terrorism. 
  • Coordinate and cooperate; security efforts cannot be handled by one country alone, and need to involve common interests and approaches. 
  • Understand that military success alone is not sufficient. The situation in the Balkans has shown us that we must make long-term efforts. 
  • Take into account a problem's roots, including cultural, political, environmental, and other issues. 
  • Develop long-term strategies and objectives. 
  • Decide to achieve goals together. 
  • Maintain and develop credible instruments across the entire spectrum; we need efficient organizations such as NATO and the EU and must maintain and develop them with that understanding. 
  • Be ready to continue efforts to achieve these goals and do so in a coherent manner. Then we will be able to say that things have changed since September 11. 


















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