The EU’s foreign and defense ministers agreed Monday on a security strategy to increase the bloc’s military clout after war has returned to Europe. This includes establishing a rapid response force of up to 5,000 troops that can be quickly deployed in a crisis.
Josep Borrell, EU’s chief of foreign policy, stated that “the threats are increasing and the cost to inaction is clear”. He also called the document which outlines European ambitions in defense and security by 2030 “a guide to action”.
The strategy was developed in 2020 before the pandemic, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the war in Ukraine. The EU imposed tougher sanctions on Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th.
The EU must be able “to protect its citizens” and to contribute to international security and peace, the bloc stated in a statement. This is especially important in a moment when Europe has been re-engaged in war, due to the unprovoked and unjustified Russian aggression against Ukraine as well as major geopolitical shifts.
Russia described the invasion of Ukraine as a “special military action” to disarm Ukraine.
Nevertheless, the EU made it clear that it views its efforts as complementing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is not competing with the U.S-led military alliance for Western defense.
According to Christine Lambrecht, the Defence Minister, Germany is ready to supply the core of the EU’s new rapid response force in 2025. This year, it will be fully operational.
The new force will replace the EU battlegroups the bloc has used since 2007, but not the ones it currently has. After the uncontrollable withdrawal from Kabul, August, by European countries, plans for a revamp gained momentum.
The Security Strategy, also known as the Strategic Compass, is expected to be approved by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.