The NewsFeed is a press review with a summary of a selection of articles and events that occurred in the past 2 weeks. Keep track!
The last two weeks were intense, therefore you will find a particularly high number of topics: a focus on the future German coalition’s intentions in defence, the official launch of the EUTM Mozambique, news from NATO, a EU Foreign Affairs council, and so many more!
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Focus: The “traffic light” coalition in Germany publishes its first programme
A new coalition is emerging in Germany one month after the federal election, gathering the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany), the Greens and the FDP (Free Democratic Party). They published on October 15th a first 12-pages exploratory paper with all the commitments necessary before negotiating the concrete coalition. It draws the possible lines of Germany’s policy until 2025.
Stressing a progressist position on many topics, the three parties addressed the responsibility of Germany for Europe and the world. They clearly claim their will to increase the strategic sovereignty of Europe, to reinforce the EU as a way to reinforce Germany. They call for an active European policy, in the frame of a strong Franco-German partnership but also a tight cooperation in the Weimar Triangle, a France-Germany-Poland cooperation. This last reference appears in a context of tense relationships between Poland and the EU. With countries outside Europe, they balance the multinational cooperation with the need to enter a systemic competition with authoritarian states and dictatorships.
The three parties also agreed that they would make the EU more capable of acting inside and outside its borders with an enhanced cooperation between armed forces.
On security, they call for a reinforcement of the UN and of an international order. NATO is referred to as an essential pillar of the country’s security, and Israel is identified as a reason of State.
Infrastructure and equipment improvement is identified as a target. The principle of “Innere Führung”, the link between the citizen and the Bundeswehr which is a parliamentary army, is also stressed out.
On armaments export, they aim to go forward in the direction of non-proliferation with a more restrictive policy, to coordinate with other European Member States to establish European rules.
Original article: 🇩🇪
Sweden asks the observer status in the MGCS programme and increases its cooperation with France
After a meeting from the French Chief of Staff, General Thierry Burkhard, and his Swedish counterpart, General Micaël Bydén, General Burkhard informed a local newspaper that Sweden has asked for the observer status in the MGCS (Main Ground Combat System) programme, currently in development by France and Germany. Sweden is also part of the CSO observation satellite programme with France, and a letter of intent has been signed by both countries’ defence ministers on September 24th.
Sweden is increasing its key role in European defence on many levels: the country has been saluted for the command of the MINUSMA (UN mission for Mali’s stabilisation) military component, and will take the lead of the Takuba Task Force in November for 4 months.
Original article: 🇬🇧
Exchange of Letters between EDA and ESA on cyber-resilience of space systems
On October 14th the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) approved an enhanced cooperation in cyber-security through an exchange of Letters, showing their common intent.
EDA and ESA already have many fields of cooperation: they work under an Administrative Agreement from 2011 covering the domains of space-based Earth observation, unmanned vehicles, Navigation and Control or cyber-resilience. On the latter, both agencies work on many common studies.
However, facing growing threats in number and sophistication, this cooperation dedicated to space systems is aimed to:
- Share their work communities and be invited to each other’s relevant meetings
- To issue a yearly report with priority cooperative avenues
- Exploring how both agencies could expand their approach to other EU cyber actors
Original article: 🇬🇧
First operational reunion with all actors for the European Patrol Corvette
On October 21st was held the first operational reunion of the Italian, French, Spanish Greek and Portugal Navies representatives, with the NAVIRIS consortium (Naval Group and Fincantieri) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) for the European Patrol Corvette programme. This was the first industrial milestone and allowed a fruitful exchange of ideas for the PESCO call for projects, according to the project leader for the Italian Navy, the Comandante Andrea Quondamatteo. The call for projects expires on December 9th.
Two visions emerge for the patrol vessel. Italy and Greece agreed on a Full Combat Multipurpose configuration, to patrol in the Mediterranean Sea and accomplish various defence missions. Spain and France, however, are more interested in a Multipurpose Long Range, with an extended autonomy for overseas territories. The first prototype would be produced in 2027.
Original article: 🇮🇹
NATO defence ministers launch an Innovation Fund
A meeting of NATO’s Ministers of Defence occurred in Brussels on October 21st and 22nd. Gathering the 17 allies with the Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, they all officially signed the creation of a NATO Innovation Fund. Worth €1 billion, it is aimed to support investment in key technological fields with a dual use, in defence and security as well as in civilian domains. The deep-tech innovators are especially targeted.
It is part of a wider NATO innovation ecosystem, with the recent NATO Defence Innovation Accelerator DIANA created last June, both expected to be fully in effect by NATO’s Madrid Summit in 2022.
A first Artificial Intelligence strategy has also been agreed on, with standards for a responsible use, identifying the benefits and addressing the threats this technology poses.
Last, a dedicated session with the European Union was organised to address specific topics, like the Aegean Sea or Kosovo, and discuss the interactions between the will of Europe for an enhanced autonomy and the risk of “duplication” with NATO, as called by Mr. Stoltenberg.
European Union military cooperation and external operations
EU military mission in Mozambique is operational
Last week, on October 15th, the European Council officially launched the European Union Military Training Mission in Mozambique, EUTM Mozambique.
The two-year-mission is aimed at providing training and capacity building in response to a deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado since 2017. The European Council said that “the mission will provide military training including operational preparation, specialised training on counter-terrorism, and training and education on the protection of civilians – especially women and girls in conflict – , and provide compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law”.
Original article: 🇬🇧
European Union Foreign Affairs Council – October 18th
A Foreign Affairs Council took place on October 18th with a dense agenda. Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, presented the main points afterwards:
- On the Gulf Region: calling for an increased presence of the EU, the Gulf countries will participate in the EU-Gulf cooperation council, and a new Delegation will open in Qatar, a key ally in the area.
- On the Eastern partnership: a new ministerial meeting will occur next month and a Summit in December, to work on the “fundamentals” such as democracy and human rights in a difficult geopolitical context: Ukraine, Belarus, the energy crisis in Moldova, …
- In Ethiopia, a year after the beginning of the conflict in Tigray, a contribution will be prepared for the United Nations report on Human Rights violation. An adequate response with sanctions is under study.
- On Afghanistan, the need for a presence to support the people and ensure safe passage for Afghans at risk is acknowledged, and Ursula Von Der Leyen announced a €1 billion help for the country and its neighbours. But this should be implemented without recognising or funding the Taliban.
- On Sahel and Mali: attention is paid to financial and political leverages to support the efforts by the Economic Community of West African States. The presence of Wagner remains a red line.
Original article: 🇬🇧
Russia suspends its diplomatic representation with NATO
At the beginning of October, the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, announced the withdrawal of the accreditation of 8 Russian diplomats, suspected of being “non-declared intelligence agents”. Two weeks later, the Russian Foreign Affairs minister Sergueï Lavrov declared the suspension of the representation, which was left with only 10 members. He pointed out that there had been no contact on military topics since 2014, and that NATO was not interested in an equal-to-equal dialogue. However, J. Stoltenberg offered to hold a NATO-Russia Council meeting and stated that the malicious activities from Russia in Europe had grown, calling for action.
Original article: 🇫🇷
EU Defence Ministers gather for their last meeting before the Strategic Compass presentation
On October 21st, the Defence Ministers of the European Union held a last debate before the official presentation of the draft of the Strategic Compass in November. The Strategic Compass process, drawing the guidelines for EU’s policy in Defence and Security for the next decade, will be finalised during the French presidency of the EU Council beginning of 2022.
During this meeting organised jointly by the Slovenian presidency of the Council and the European External Action Service, many options to boost defence have been reviewed:
- The creation of a Quick Action Response Force, to respond faster to crisis after Afghanistan
- The need of an hybrid toolbox to counter the malicious activities of hybrid actors
- The flagship capabilities to develop in accordance with CARD (strategic lift, air refuelling, early warning system, strategic foresight and intelligence capabilities)
- The NATO-EU cooperation, as both organisations are currently conducting a strategic foresight exercise for the next decade
Original article: 🇬🇧
EU-Ukraine Summit : strengthening neighboring relationships ?
On October 12th, the European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, the European Council President Charles Michel and the High Representative Josep Borell met the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Summit has been an occasion to further cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. Von der Leyen reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to Ukraine’s “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”. EU representatives confirmed their wishes to bring Crimea back and to support Kyiv. Russian troops have now been occupying the Black Peninsula for seven and a half years now.
The Summit has also been an opportunity to sign agreements on Ukraine’s access to Horizon Europe and Creative Europe, and a Common Civil Aviation Area Agreement (or Open Skies Treaty). The Open Skies Treaty is placing Ukraine under EU sky rules: “Ukraine will pursue the mandatory implementation of European standards and rules in air transportation”. The treaty is designed as an important tool for enhancing transparency and cooperation between EU military forces.
A crisis narrative over energy prices and gas supplies is fueling the debates between the EU and Ukraine. It took place at a time when energy prices are rising. In parallel, Ukraine is worried about energy security and supply with North Stream 2, which is said to undermine Ukraine’s gas transportation system.
Original article: 🇬🇧
China pressures the EU Parliament after a report to increase commercial links with Taiwan
On October 21st, the Spokesperson of the Chinese Mission to the EU filed a letter to the President of the EU Parliament, David Sassoli, reacting to a report on the EU-Taiwan commercial relations adopted the same day. The report, adopted unanimously, urged the European Commission to “urgently begin” preparations for a bilateral investment deal with Taiwan.
For China, every recognition of Taiwan, regardless of the level and field, is seen as a violation of the One-China principle. The Spokesperson of the Chinese Mission declared “We urge the EU side not to misjudge China’s firm resolve and strong will to defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity”, and stated it was the foundation of any EU-China political relation.
Lithuania is at the heart of these tensions, after Taiwanese officials visited the country: both recalled their respective ambassadors.