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Progress on European defence to be evaluated by the European Council

Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig

Against the backdrop of the long-term decline in European defence budgets, the deteriorating security context just beyond Europe’s borders and the worsening relationship with Russia have been seen as providing a wake-up call to European leaders regarding the necessity to adapt the EU’s foreign and security policy to the new challenges and deepen their defence cooperation.

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At the major debate on defence scheduled to take place at the June 2015 European Council meeting, the EU’s Heads of State or Government are expected to assess the progress achieved so far in the area of security and defence, and task the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission with the review of the 2003 European Security Strategy. However, expectations of the outcome on security and defence issues have not been raised too high, not least given the other significant points on the agenda of the European Council (fight against terrorism, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, euro area economic governance). The most recent Council Conclusions on CSDP, of 18 May 2015, will most probably represent the basis for discussions and for the outcome.

On the other hand, a series of proposals on how to effectively boost European defence cooperation, including from the President of the European Commission, some EU Member States, as well as the defence industry and various think-tanks, might still raise the level of ambition of the European Council decisions.

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