Brexit and the election of Trump have created an unprecedented sense of urgencyby Sophia Besch / December 26, 2016 / Leave a comment
Citizens of the European Union do not feel safe. As recent surveys have shown, faced with deteriorating security at borders, tensions between Russia and the west, the migration crisis and the threat of terrorism, Europeans feel that the EU is not doing enough to protect them.
Politicians listened and made defence a priority in 2016, discussing it at the mid-December European Council meeting. The result has been proposals to reform the funding and the command of EU operations, and initiatives to strengthen the EU’s defence industries. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, eventually aims to achieve “strategic autonomy” in defence: that is, the ability to operate without the help of the United States.
This is not the first time that the EU has tried to create a stronger role for itself in defence. But its Common Defence and Security Policy has long been a paper tiger and failed to galvanize member-states into investing real money in their own security. Two recent events, however, have created an unprecedented sense of urgency: the Brexit referendum result and Donald Trump’s election as US president. But disagreements over strategic priorities and threat assessments among the EU27 mean that it is far from clear that the the current enthusiasm will be sustained.
Many in Brussels hope that with the UK’s imminent departure, the EU can “unfreeze” some of the defence proposals that the country has vetoed in the past and go ahead with, for example, an EU operational headquarters. But thi…