EU Security & Defence

The European Commission is due to present its Security and Defence Package, which includes a new military mobility plan and an EU cyber defence policy proposal, this week.

These initiatives are part of the Strategic Compass, the new EU military strategy adopted by the Council in March 2022. This document builds upon the Versailles Declaration of 10 March 2022, in which EU leaders reiterated their intention to renew efforts in the field of EU security and defence and pursue a strategic common security and defence agenda. 

Although the last military mobility action plan dates back to 2018, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 represented a major geopolitical shift, marking the return of war to the continent and urging the EU to rethink its military strategy. Last October, the Council’s EU Military Committee (EUMC) discussed ways of achieving the Strategic Compass goals, underlining that the Military Mobility project remains an essential work strand for both the EU and NATO. The Committee reiterated the need for capabilities and capacities, infrastructure, rules and procedures to grant troops the flexibility and agility to move across the EU. 

With respect to the EU’s cyber defence policy, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy introduced a new plan at the end of 2020 to ensure a global and open Internet with strong safeguards. For that purpose, they published a Cybersecurity Toolkit, one of the key instruments to combat cyber risks and discourage attacks. In October 2021, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling on the Commission and the Council to increase cyber defence budget and workforce, while in June 2022, the Council of the European Union emphasised the need for a hybrid toolbox that would outline a coordinated response to hybrid threats and campaigns affecting the EU and its partners. Finally, the European Commission presented the Cyber resilience Act in September 2022, mandating cybersecurity for hardware and software products throughout their lifecycle.
Key Texts EEAS: EU Cybersecurity StrategyEuropean Commission: 2018 Action Plan on military mobilityUpcoming Dates14 November 2022: Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) meeting 14-15 November 2022: Foreign Affairs Council

In our recommendations for a European response to the war in Ukraine, we call upon the EU to seize this moment of unity and solidarity and develop a fully-fledged European Defence Union (EDU), through the harmonisation of European armed forces under full control of national parliaments and the European Parliament to ensure peace across the European continent. The EU must increase spending and investment in its defence capabilities through already existing initiatives such as the European Peace Facility (EPF) and the European Defence Fund (EDF).  

However, the Russian threat to European security is more than just a military threat. It manifests itself through strategic communication efforts in third countries, disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks and the promotion of a geopolitical worldview at odds with those values that underpin the European Union. In our position on digital sovereignty, we emphasise that legislation and investment programmes must actively promote cross-border innovation, research and development, and cooperation in science and industry to protect European citizens, stakeholders, and institutions from the ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks from hostile actors. It is crucial that vulnerable targets such as hospitals and local municipalities, as well as common ransomware targets, are able to rely on European authorities for adequate support and protection. 

Moreover, the EU should deepen its cooperation with the US on issues of cyber warfare by imposing sanctions against cyber-attacks from hostile actors, especially Chinese and Russian state-backed groups, that threaten the EU and its Member States. For all the above to be possible, a coordinated approach is necessary to improve security and safeguard European democracy and citizens.