Written by Elena Lazarou,
Security and defence policy in the European Union is predominantly a competence of the Member States. At the same time, a common security and defence policy, which could progressively lead to a European defence union, is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Since 2016, there has been significant progress in that direction, with several initiatives in the area of security and defence having been proposed and initiated under the current mandate of the Commission and the European Parliament.
The idea that the European Union should deliver in the area of security and defence has become more and more popular with EU citizens. The crises in the EU’s eastern and southern neighbourhoods, such as the occupation of Crimea and conflicts in the Middle East, have created an environment of insecurity in which the EU is called upon to do more. Following the Council decision of 2013 and particularly since the launch of the EU global strategy in 2016, the EU had been working to respond to these needs predominantly by implementing in full the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. In recent years, it has begun the implementation of ambitious initiatives in the area of security and defence, such as permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), the European defence action plan including a new defence fund to finance research and development of EU military capabilities, closer and more efficient cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a plan to facilitate military mobility within and across the EU, and a revision of the financing of its civilian and military missions and operations to make them more effective.
These new initiatives are illustrated in the relevant proposals in the new multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) and the accompanying off-budget instruments. Given EU leaders’ current support for further initiatives in EU security and defence policy, important debates are likely to take place in future on the possible progressive framing of a European defence union.
Read this complete briefing on ‘EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Security and defence‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.