Documents considered by the Committee on 9 September 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


6 Common Foreign and Security Policy, including Common Security and Defence Policy

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared from scrutiny; recommended for debate on the floor of the house; drawn to the attention of the Defence Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee
Document detailsMain aspects and basic choices of the CFSP (part II, point E, paragraph 25 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013) — 2014 — Draft Annual report from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Legal base
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Document Numbers (37005), 11083/15, ¯

Summary and Committee's conclusions

6.1 Under Article 36 TEU (previously Article 21 TEU), the European Parliament is to be consulted regularly by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission (HR/VP; Federica Mogherini) on the main aspects and basic choices of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP); to be kept informed of how these policies evolve; and to have its views "duly taken into account".

6.2 Thus the Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA) of 2 December 2013, part II, point E, paragraph 25, provides that, each year, the High Representative shall consult the European Parliament on a forward-looking document, which will set out the main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP, including the financial implications for the general budget of the European Union, an evaluation of the measures launched in the year n-1 and an assessment of the coordination and complementarity of CFSP with the Union's other external financial instruments.

The 2014 Report

6.3 The report (as is customary) describes the main CFSP decisions and activities undertaken in 2014 by EU Member States, and by the European External Action Service (EEAS) on their behalf:

—  Overview of Activities by Regions;

—  Addressing Threats and Global Challenges;

—  Contribution to a More Effective Multilateral Order;

—  Support to Democracy, Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and the Rule of Law;

—  Comprehensive Approach, Conflict Prevention, Mediation and Crisis Response; and

—  Common Security and Defence Policy.

6.4 Part Two is focussed on looking ahead to 2015.[ 37] The Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Grant Shapps) notes that: the CSDP section focuses predominantly on follow-up work to the December 2013 European Council, "delivering various policy initiatives including UK priorities such as the Comprehensive Approach[ 38] and EU-NATO cooperation"; progress has been made on enhancing the effectiveness of CSDP in contributing to international crisis resolution and management ("a much stronger focus on lessons learned"); and the report highlights the importance of partnerships in CSDP, particularly that of the EU's relationship with NATO, and "encouragingly states the continued improvement of cooperation between the two organisations in the face of a shared assessment of the changing nature of the threats faced in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods".

The June 2015 "Defence" European Council (JEC15)

6.5 We also include in this chapter of our Report a detailed update from the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) and the Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr Julian Brazier) on JEC15 and the preparatory May 2015 Foreign Affairs Council (which was based around a number of reports from the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR; Federica Mogherini) and the Commission/EEAS), and on the main outcomes. The key points they highlight are:

—  as expected, the HR was tasked with producing a new Foreign and Security Strategy, which they say they ensured will be taken forward in close co-operation with Member States;

—  Member States committed to allocating "a sufficient level of expenditure for defence" whilst making "the most effective use of resources" — "a key objective for the UK, which the Prime Minister highlighted during discussions in the Council";

—  the Council reinforced the need to "intensify partnerships", including cooperation with NATO — "a key UK objective";

—  as part of EU-NATO co-operation, hybrid and strategic communications were prioritised, as part of an overall response to Russia and threats in the wider EU neighbourhood;

—  Conclusions also supported the strengthening of Europe's defence industry, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and highlighted the need for appropriate EU funding for the Preparatory Action on defence research due to start in 2017 as well as fostering greater European defence co-operation to deliver key capabilities, including through EU funds;

—  leaders highlighted the new EU capacity building initiative to "empower and enable partners to prevent and manage crises".

6.6 The Ministers state that all of these points reinforce key UK objectives — "the need for greater efficiency, and support to Member States' capabilities; to improve Member States' ability to act, including with partners, especially NATO; and to increase the CSDP's contribution to 'full spectrum' response to crisis and conflict management."

6.7 They also draw attention to the presence of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg at the European Council — "for which we had pushed", and which "helped demonstrate both the centrality of NATO to the security of Europe and the need to increase NATO-EU cooperation; and to the fact that "High Representative Mogherini highlighted that a stronger EU and NATO provided mutual benefits" (see "Background" below for full detail).

6.8 The (16 pages) May 2015 Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions begin by noting that the global and European security environment has changed dramatically in recent years, call for "a stronger Europe, with a stronger and more effective Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)" and state that, by addressing conflicts, sources of instability and other security challenges in the EU's immediate and wider neighbourhood, "the EU and its Member States are assuming increased responsibilities to act as a security provider, at the international level and in particular in the neighbourhood, thereby also enhancing their own security and their global strategic role by responding to these challenges together", with the EU and its Member States, CSDP and other policies and instruments, having "a strong role to play through the unique EU Comprehensive Approach to preventing and managing conflicts and addressing their causes". [ 39]

6.9 The Council Conclusions also highlight the continued close and mutually reinforcing co-operation with NATO in areas of shared interest, both strategically and operationally, in crisis management as well as on military capability development where requirements overlap, and welcome the High Representative's efforts to strengthen strategic and practical co-operation between the EU and NATO, with the overall objective of building a true organisation-to-organisation relationship.

6.10 Ministers stress that these and the (much shorter) European Council Conclusions on CSDP[ 40] are "firmly within UK red lines". But it is also notable that — as with the December 2013 "Defence" European Council (the first such since 2007) — it was again necessary for them to lobby for the attendance of the NATO secretary-general; something that sits oddly with a genuine conviction by other Member States and the HR about "building a true organisation-to-organisation relationship". It is thus perhaps not surprising that Ministers also note that the HR's main contribution to the May FAC — her report on CSDP — did not bring out clearly enough that Member States have primacy over defence issues; did not give enough weight to EU-NATO cooperation; put forward proposals on the role of the EDA (European Defence Agency) that went beyond what Member States had previously agreed; and provided insufficient evaluation of the value added by CSDP missions and operations.

6.11 The HR has now been tasked with preparing a new European Security Strategy, for "JEC16" next June. Her "ground-breaking" initial strategy paper[ 41] says that, while it has developed from scratch since 2000 and its modus operandi in partnership with international and regional organisations works well, CSDP still faces difficulties in force generation and access to early and common financing, enablers, intelligence and logistics, with EU Battle Groups having never been deployed and the Lisbon Treaty's Article 44 never implemented,[ 42] and concludes that: "While the EU is not a military alliance, it cannot ignore the 'D' in its CSDP". This is very much in line with the previous European Council President's remarks at the February 2014 Munich Security:

"Starting this year, Europeans will be launching new joint defence programmes, for cutting-edge drones, satellite communication, cyber defence and air-to-air refuelling. It is the start of a process. All these tools: at the service of Europe's interests and security."[ 43]

6.12 Notwithstanding what the Council Conclusions may say, and the Ministers' assertions about "red lines", it seems plain that the European institutions, and at least some Member States, continue to favour a deepening of the EU's own defence capabilities.

6.13 Ministers see "framing the strategy proper" as offering an opportunity, "in line with our own SDSR,[ 44] to improve the co-ordination of EU policies, instruments and tools and better align them to UK priorities", and note that the Council Conclusions "rightly emphasised the requirement for close consultation/co-operation with Member States". They also say that, though the new EU strategy on foreign and security policy is to be submitted to the European Council by June 2016, the strategy text "is to be owned and drafted by the HR/VP with the option of Council endorsement at the end of the process", thus avoiding "full negotiation at 28 over such a text", which is "our favoured way of working." All of this raises a number of important questions.

6.14 First, while some Members will find the process outlined by the Ministers reassuring and uncontroversial, others will not; views on CFSP and CSDP are diverse; development of a new EU strategy on foreign and security policy, and of the related policies listed by the Ministers, is thus politically important.

6.15 Secondly, if (quite rightly) there is to be close consultation/co-operation with Member States, the question arises as to how the House to be involved in the scrutiny of these developments. The previous Committee's experience, prior to and after the 2013 December "Defence" European Council, is not encouraging; its final Report on the EU Comprehensive Approach catalogues the previous Government's prevaricating over the timing and location of debates on key documents leading up to DEC 13 — one of which (the Defence Implementation Road Map) still remains to be debated. It also catalogues the previous Government's lack of commitment to the depositing of documents that frame the policy debate, thereby continuing to frustrate the Committee's long-standing endeavours to improve "upstream" scrutiny of CSDP, so that it is not presented with policy and legislative faits accomplis.[ 45]

6.16 Regrettably, this continues to be the case. For no good reason, this Annual Report has been adopted prior to being submitted for scrutiny; since it is essentially a record of past activity, we see no way in which this override was unavoidable, and regard the Minister's explanation as pro forma (see paragraph 6.29 below).

6.17 In addition, the Minister for Europe declined to deposit formally for scrutiny the HR's Strategic Review (or the other two documents dealt with in the joint letter) on the grounds that it did not have a formal cover, was for information only to the Council, and only provided a framework for decisions to be taken.

6.18 This is an unconvincing argument: even if provided "for information only" (it was in fact tabled as "a background paper, prepared by the EEAS with a view to supporting discussions amongst Ministers at the joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council/Defence Ministers on 18 May"), it was clearly meant for serious discussion. It is essentially a Commission/Joint Communication by another name (Commission/Joint Communications being very much frameworks for decisions to be taken). As our scrutiny operates on the basis of a deposited document, providing this Strategic Review by letter impedes proper prior scrutiny, as the House has chosen to do it. We therefore make it clear that we expect the Minister to deposit the HR's Review next Spring, before it is considered by the Council, with an Explanatory Memorandum and his views on it.

6.19 Third, the country will soon determine its future relationship with the EU via a referendum. As our colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee (to whose attention we draw these developments) have already noted, leaving the EU could have significant implications for the UK's alliances and strategic partnerships, standing in other international organisations, "soft power" and national security. We also draw this Chapter to the attention of the Defence Committee.

6.20 In all these circumstances, we consider that this CSDP Report, and the related issues set out in the Ministers' letter and in our Conclusion, should be debated now; and recommend that this debate should be held as soon as possible on the floor of the House.

Full details of the documents: Main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP (part II, point E, paragraph 25 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013) — 2014 — Draft Annual report from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: (37005), 11083/15, —.

Background

6.21 In its introduction, the report describes 2014 as a decisive year for the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP):

"Armed conflict, destruction and the loss of human lives in the European Union's neighbourhood called for swift and determined action and demonstrated the need for a truly united European Common Foreign and Security Policy".

6.22 The EU "used the entire range of its tools — CFSP and non-CFSP — to respond to these challenges", to tackle them in an integrated way and to alleviate their impact on the countries concerned as well as on Europe. The broader global changes driving the numerous and simultaneous crises "highlight the need to forge a long-term strategy for the EU's external action."

6.23 In order to reflect this "comprehensive approach", the report includes appropriate references to non-CFSP policies and instruments, such as development cooperation, trade and humanitarian aid.

6.24 Throughout the year, the EU coupled diplomacy with new and existing Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions on the ground, humanitarian intervention in areas hit by crisis, and development aid for those in need; and worked closely with international, regional and local partners.

6.25 The Report lists three ways in which the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy contributes to global peace and security:

1.  the EU is directly involved in — and in some cases leads — international peace negotiations on behalf of the international community, for example between Belgrade and Pristina on the future of Kosovo and in the Iran nuclear talks;

2.  the EU can assemble a wide range of political and economic foreign policy tools, in a world where security challenges are becoming ever more complex; addressing all dimensions of a crisis, from its roots to its immediate manifestation, such as EU action to address the crisis in Ukraine and countering piracy at the Horn of Africa; and

3.  the EU works closely with — and materially supports — international and regional partners to deal with regional challenges where only collective efforts can deliver results, such as climate change (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), sustainable development (the UN framework towards post-2015 Development goals) and disaster risk management and relief (the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030).

The Government's view

6.26 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 4 August 2015, the Minister (Mr Grant Shapps) says that:

    "The landscape of foreign policy in 2014 was constantly changing, the UK acted positively in coordination with EU Member States and Institutions to achieve some notable successes in line with UK objectives. These included the continued progress made in nuclear talks with Iran."

6.27 Noting that the report is nearly 300 pages, the Minister summarises areas that he sees as "of interest and primacy to Members".[ 46]

6.28 With regard to CSDP, the Minister says:

    "The CSDP section of the report focuses predominantly on follow-up work to the December 2013 European Council, delivering various policy initiatives including UK priorities such as the Comprehensive Approach and EU-NATO cooperation. The report further highlights the progress that has been made to enhance the effectiveness of CSDP in contributing to international crisis resolution and management. This includes a much stronger focus on lessons learned, with the Lessons Manage Group meeting for the first time to agree and annual lessons report.

    "The report highlights the importance of partnerships in CSDP, particularly that of the EU's relationship with NATO. It encouragingly states the continued improvement of cooperation between the two organisations in the face of a shared assessment of the changing nature of the threats faced in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods. The UK-hosted Wales NATO Summit contributed to continuing strengthening of EU-NATO relations.

    "A new military operation was launched to counter illegal migration in the Mediterranean, EUNAVFOR Med. The timing of the launch of the operation means that assessment of its effectiveness is not possible within this annual report."

The Minister's letter of 4 August 2014

6.29 The Minister for Europe says that the final version of the report was agreed too late to be considered by the Committee before the 20 July Foreign Affairs Council; regrets that the report was endorsed by the Council before the Committee has had an opportunity to scrutinise the document; notes the Committee's previously expressed concern about the lack of time available to conduct proper scrutiny of EU documents; says that he has instructed his officials to continue to raise these concerns with colleagues in the EU; and maintains that, the seriousness with which he takes his responsibility to keep the Committee informed on these issues, the need for the override of scrutiny on this occasion was "regrettably unavoidable".

The Ministers' letter of 23 July 2015

6.30 In their letter, the Minister for Europe and the Minister for the Armed Forces report as follows:

"June European Council on Defence

"Our objectives for the June European Council were: to take stock of the December 2013 Council commitments; an emphasis on improving the effectiveness of CSDP, looking at practical and relevant policy initiatives; no institutional expansion or Commission encroachment; full complementarity with NATO; and a more open and competitive European defence industry. We also pushed to ensure short and strategic Conclusions.

"The final negotiations reflected these objectives. As you will have seen, the Conclusions on CSDP (attached[ 47]) were concise and focused on reinforcing previous commitments, including the 18 May Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions (see below[ 48]). Some key points:

—  "As expected, the High Representative was tasked with producing a new Foreign and Security Strategy. We ensured that this will be taken forward in close co-operation with Member States;

—  "Member States committed to allocating "a sufficient level of expenditure for defence" whilst making "the most effective use of resources". This was a key objective for the UK, which the Prime Minister highlighted during discussions in the Council;

—  "The Council reinforced the need to 'intensify partnerships', including cooperation with NATO — a key UK objective;

—  "As part of EU-NATO co-operation, hybrid and strategic communications were prioritised, as part of an overall response to Russia and threats in the wider EU neighbourhood;

—  "Conclusions also supported the strengthening of Europe's defence industry, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and highlighted the need for appropriate EU funding for the Preparatory Action on defence research due to start in 2017 as well as fostering greater European defence co-operation to deliver key capabilities, including through EU funds;

—  "Leaders highlighted the new EU capacity building initiative to "empower and enable partners to prevent and manage crises".

"All of these points reinforce key UK objectives — the need for greater efficiency, and support to Member States' capabilities; to improve Member States' ability to act, including with partners, especially NATO; and to increase the CSDP's contribution to 'full spectrum' response to crisis and conflict management.

"Finally, we would like to note that the presence of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg at the Council — for which we had pushed — helped demonstrate both the centrality of NATO to the security of Europe and the need to increase NATO-EU cooperation. High Representative Mogherini highlighted that a stronger EU and NATO provided mutual benefits.

"May Foreign Affairs Council

"As part of preparations for the June European Council, Foreign and Defence Ministers attended the 18 May Foreign Affairs Council. Defence Ministers met in the morning to discuss CSDP operations in the Neighbourhood. Foreign Ministers joined a "jumbo" session on: preparation of the June European Council on CSDP; the European Security Strategic Review; and CSDP missions in the neighbourhood.

"The Foreign and Defence Secretaries stressed the need for the June Council to be a stocktake of the December 2013 taskings. They stressed that co-operation with NATO had to be at the heart of the EU's CSDP policy; the EU had a role to play in tackling Russian hybrid tactics - and strategic communications were key; and they welcomed the report on defence capability, in particular the focus on competition and SMEs, but noted that challenges of overcapacity in the European defence industry needed to be resolved by the market, not by governments.

"FAC Conclusions were agreed and are attached for your interest. These Conclusions were firmly within UK red lines (for example, no new structures) and supported UK priorities, and they helped lay the foundations for a successful June European Council as outlined above.

"FAC Conclusions covered the same broad areas as the June European Council, but went into further detail in some areas.[ 49] Key points were:

—  "Strategic Review: The FAC welcomed High Representative Mogherini's report on the EU in a changing global environment (a December 2013 EC tasking).[ 50] The follow up to the report would be a new foreign and security strategy, which we see as a good opportunity, in line with our own SDSR, to improve the co-ordination of EU policies, instruments and tools, better aligning them to UK priorities.

—  "Hybrid: FAC Conclusions tasked the High Representative to take forward a "Joint Framework with actionable proposals to help counter hybrid threats"[ 51] by December 2015. The UK successfully managed to secure a text which highlighted the need for coordination with partners, particularly NATO, and for a more joined up approach on strategic communications. NATO is also due to deliver a hybrid strategy in a similar timeframe — we will work to ensure the two are coordinated and are complementary.

—  "The EU Wide Strategic Framework for Security Sector Reform, to be delivered by mid-2016, is part of an effort to embed the EU's Comprehensive Approach to crisis-management and conflict prevention — a concept we have long championed. It is likely to build on a similar concept document from 2005, and aims to ensure that co-ordination between EU institutions is more systematic.

—  ""Capacity building in support of security and development — Enabling partners to prevent and manage crises" (formerly 'Train and Equip'):[ 52] FAC Conclusions invited the EEAS and Commission to create an Implementation Plan to guide this work further; and to present findings in view of the Foreign Affairs Council in October/November, on the financial options, including a potential adaptation of the African Peace Facility. We assess that this initiative could increase the effectiveness and operational impact of EU crisis intervention. It also provides a tangible means for implementing the EU's Comprehensive Approach given its principles of early planning, working with partners, and aspiring to ensure long-term sustainability following EU crisis intervention.  We will continue to engage constructively in discussions as this concept is further operationalised, whilst guarding against any infringement on established UK red lines.

—  "Military Rapid Response Concept: The FAC welcomed the agreement of the new Military Rapid Response Concept,[ 53] which supplements the EU Battle Groups (EUBGs[ 54]) with additional voluntary land, air or maritime modules from Member States. The UK remains supportive of the EUBGs as a rapid response tool and driver for capability development, and we supported the development of the new concept which increases the flexibility of this capability. The Council also highlighted the need to consider the EUBGs as an option of choice for initial entry in CSDP operations. Initial entry is an existing task for the EUBGs and the UK supports efforts to increase the deployability and usability for this capability, whilst ensuring they remain flexible enough to conduct their full range of possible tasks. Thanks to lobbying by Ministers and officials, we successfully resisted efforts to expand areas eligible for Common Funding under the Athena mechanism. We have insisted it is political will, not common funding, that is required to enhance the prospects of deploying EU Battlegroups.

"May EDA Steering Board

"On 18 May — ahead of the FAC(D) — Defence Ministers attended the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency (EDA). The key outcomes were:

—  "a tasking of the EDA, in coordination with the EEAS, to conduct an analysis of the implications of hybrid warfare for European defence capability development - a key UK ask;

—  "a revised action plan to support defence SMEs: these guidelines should help foster greater innovation, competitiveness and industrial performance across the wider defence market.

—  "agreement to continue work to further incentivise defence cooperation, including the Preparatory Action on CSDP-related research and clear objectives and actions for a Security of Supply regime.

—  "These outcomes are in line with UK objectivities and red lines. Further detail of the meeting can be found in the Annex."[ 55]

"High Representative's report on CSDP

"Ahead of the 2015 June European Council (JEC15) Federica Mogherini released a report on CSDP (attached[ 56]) in her capacity as High Representative, Vice-President of the Commission, and Head of the European Defence Agency. The report covers two aspects: an overview of the implementation of the December 2013 European Council Conclusions; and some proposals on a way forward. It was issued ahead of the May FAC and European Council as Mogherini's primary method of seeking to shape the JEC15 Conclusions on defence and security.

"The report is broadly in line with UK policy and provides welcome updated analysis of the European security environment, with firm language on Russia. However, there were some areas where we disagreed:

—  "The report did not bring out clearly enough that Member States have primacy over defence issues;

—  "EU-NATO cooperation was not given enough weight;

—  "The proposals on the role of the EDA went beyond what Member States have previously agreed; and

—  "There was insufficient evaluation of the value added by CSDP missions and operations.

"The report's Conclusions are non-binding: it was not negotiated at 28 or formally endorsed by Member States. Ultimately, the May FAC or JEC15 Conclusions did not incorporate the majority of its proposals; and it is these Conclusions that will set the direction of CSDP policy in the short term. As the JEC15 Conclusions illustrate, other Member States do not fully endorse all the elements of the HR/VP report's conclusions either.

"Commission Report on the Implementation of the European Commission's Communication on defence

"At the same time as the HRVP report, the Commission released an update report (attached)[ 57] on its activities to implement its July 2013 Communication "Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector".[ 58] The report follows the June 2014 Implementation Roadmap[ 59] and provides an update on Commission activity since then, along with its planned actions in the defence sector, focusing in particular on the internal market, research and industrial policy.

"A number of these activities complement our own objectives for a more open, innovative and competitive defence market including: working with Member States to implement the Defence Procurement and Security Directive; promoting greater use of the Intra Community Transfers Directive and accordingly reducing the administrative burden of export licensing within the EU; encouraging access to EU Funding for dual use projects; and supporting cross border access for defence SMEs. There are other areas which need to be managed carefully, such as:

—  "The CSDP-related Preparatory Action, which potentially offers significant capability benefits for our armed forces. But we must ensure a strong Member State role and that it is attractive to the defence industry which is also likely to contribute;

—  "The roadmap for a comprehensive EU-wide Security of Supply regime. We support efforts to improve confidence in cross-border trade, particularly better use of the Intra-Community Transfers Directive, but would not support new regulation (including on the control of investment in strategic assets) or any action that would constrain UK ability to veto exports; and

—  "Proposals to clarify the use of certain Defence Directive exclusions (including the exemption of Government to Government sales and procurement through international organisations from the scope of the Directive).  The Commission has indicated that its guidance will bring some useful clarity to the application of the exclusions rather than seek to constrain our ability to procure capability. We will of course remain engaged pending publication of the guidance, which is expected before the end of 2015.

"We will remain fully engaged in the debate to shape development of the actions to deliver benefit for the UK and to resist action that could cross our red lines. To date the Commission has welcomed this engagement and indications are that it will continue to seek our views and expertise as this work is taken forward.

"Strategic Review: "The European Union in a changing global environment: A more connected, contested and complex world"

"We last wrote on the Strategic Review ahead of the June FAC.  This latest document (attached[ 60]) is HR/VP Mogherini's evaluation of the strategic environment the EU now faces (her answer to a DEC13 tasking 'to assess the impact of changes in the global environment and to report.on the challenges and opportunities arising for the Union'). The document identifies the challenges for the EU along lines broadly familiar to UK policy-makers:

—  "The fraying post-Cold War European order: Russia and economic integration/ association agreements;

—  "Western Balkans and Turkey: reform and enlargement;

—  "Upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East: addressing ISIL; CT and the link between EU work on internal and external security; humanitarian crises in refugee-hosting countries and their impact on economic, migration, asylum and security policies;

—  "A redefined relationship with Africa with the right mix of migration and mobility policies; security cooperation with the UN and AU; and by bridging fair trade and economic integration objectives;

—  "Stronger transatlantic partnerships via closer EU-NATO links and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP);

—  "A policy on Asia, balancing support for a rules-based system with trade.

"The next stages — those of framing the strategy proper — offer an opportunity, in line with our own SDSR, to improve the co-ordination of EU policies, instruments and tools and better align them to UK priorities. The June FAC Conclusions noted that the High Representative would continue the process of strategic reflection with a view to preparing an EU strategy on foreign and security policy — the strategy proper, the wider-in-scope successor (i.e. covering both foreign and security policy) to the old ESS, dubbed the 'European External Strategy' (EES).

"The Conclusions rightly emphasised the requirement for close consultation/co-operation with Member States. They also call for the strategy to be submitted to the European Council by June 2016. We understand the strategy text is to be owned and drafted by the HR/VP (similar process as the 2003 ESS) with the option of Council endorsement at the end of the process. We understand the HR/VP seeks to avoid full negotiation at 28 over such a text. This is our favoured way of working: Member States would retain sovereignty and decision making powers in these areas as before, but without the travails of the negotiation accompanying the 2008 report on ESS.

"EU Maritime Security Strategy

"In our previous letter to you, I promised an update on the EU Maritime Security Strategy. A brief review of the EU Maritime Security Strategy took place at the April meeting of the European Commission's Group of Member States' Experts on the Integration of Maritime Surveillance. Member States and the Commission reported that work in some areas such as EU/NATO cooperation and a review of research and development work had started. DG MARE has commissioned progress reports from Member States to be submitted by 18 September to inform a report being issued in November. The FCO continues to lead cross-government co-ordination on the EU MSS and I will provide a further update following the issue of November's report."

Previous Committee Reports

None, but see (35696), 17859/13, JOIN(13) 30: Twenty-ninth Report HC 219-xxviii (2014-15), chapter 12 (14 January 2015) and (36178), —: Sixth Report HC 219-vii (2014-15), chapter 12 (9 July 2014).

Annex to the Minister's letter~

"Overview of the EDA Steering Board

"Defence Ministers welcomed the progress achieved in the implementation of the December 2013 European Council Conclusions. The four capability programmes on Air-to-Air Refuelling, Cyber Defence, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Governmental Satellite Communications endorsed by the European Council in 2013 are continuing to make progress, although all are long term projects.

"Defence Ministers agreed that potential additional priority capability areas could be investigated using the European Defence Agency's Capability Development Plan (CDP), an assessment of cooperative opportunities derived from the Collaborative Database (CODABA) and wider EU policies. The UK clearly outlined the importance of the CDP continuing to act as the driving force behind capability development between EU Member States in order to avoid duplicating the activities of NATO.

"The Agency was also tasked to conduct an analysis of the implications of hybrid warfare for European defence capability development in light of the changed security environment to the East and South. The analysis might form part of wider efforts, co-ordinated by the European External Action Service and Commission, to analyse the impact of hybrid warfare on the European security environment and to identify, and recommend improvements to existing EU tools and instruments that are best suited to counter this threat.

"Incentives for defence cooperation

"Defence Ministers continued to offer their support to the EDA continuing to work on non-market distorting fiscal and financial measures to further incentivise defence cooperation. Tangible progress has been achieved on VAT exemption for ad hoc projects in EDA, with the support of the Commission and the Belgian authorities. Three pilot cases currently benefit from VAT exemption. Formalisation of this VAT exemption is pending the currently ongoing review of the EDA Council Decision.

"Preparatory Action on CSDP-related research

"Ministers of Defence supported the progress achieved towards the development of the Preparatory Action on CSDP-related research by the European Defence Agency and the European Commission in close cooperation with the Member States. While the UK agreed that the Preparatory Action offered significant potential for supporting Member States' defence research priorities, we also clearly outlined the importance of developing appropriate governance structures to ensure Member States' national sovereignty in defence matters is not compromised by large scale Commission funding of defence Research & Technology.

"SME Action Plan

"Defence Ministers agreed on revised guidelines for facilitating access to the defence market for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), supporting the implementation of the Agency's SME Action Plan. The role of SMEs in the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) has gradually increased over time, partly as a result of greater outsourcing. The non-binding guidelines were prepared in close cooperation with the Member States and the European Commission. They contain recommendations dedicated to access to supply chain, access to finance, support to innovation, competitiveness and industrial performance, and security of supply aspects.

"Security of Supply

"The December 2013 European Council called on the Commission to develop with Member States and in cooperation with the High Representative and the EDA a roadmap for a comprehensive EU-wide Security of Supply regime, which takes account of the globalised nature of critical supply chains. The EDA has together with its Member States identified potential basic principles and objectives of such a regime as well as actions that could be taken at the intergovernmental level. Proposed actions include establishing specific measures to ensure access to critical capabilities and technologies, e.g. through an early-warning or prioritisation mechanism, developing a mechanism to address concrete short term shortfalls, promoting cross-border cooperation, and bringing the supply and demand side closer together, for example through user-clubs.

"Future priorities of EDA

"Ministers of Defence endorsed the future priorities of the EDA including three core activities to further strengthen defence cooperation: support the development of capabilities and military cooperation; stimulate defence R&T to prepare the capabilities of tomorrow and support the EDTIB; and ensure that the interests and specificities of defence are taken into account in wider EU policies. Crucially the UK ensured that future EDA Capability programmes should be drawn from the EDA's list of key identified priority shortfalls, ensuring the Agency efficiently delivers the key capability requirements needed by its Member States."


37   In addition, there are five annexes: Annex I gives an overview of CFSP legal acts concerning restrictive measures in 2014; Annex II sets out the appearances of the High Representative/Vice-President before the European Parliament in 2014; Annex III lists statements and declarations that were made in 2014; Annex IV details the CFSP budget for 2014; and finally Annex V makes an assessment of the coordination of CFSP with the EU's other external financial instruments. Back

38   In December 2013, the European Council called for further steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the EU's comprehensive approach. The subsequent May 2014 Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions see the "comprehensive approach" as predicated upon the notion that European Union and its Member States: "can bring to the international stage the unique ability to combine, in a coherent and consistent manner, policies and tools ranging from diplomacy, security and defence to finance, trade, development and human rights, as well as justice and migration [which] contributes greatly to the Union's ability to play a positive and transformative role in its external relations and as a global actor". The Council defines the "comprehensive approach" as: "both a general working method and a set of concrete measures and processes to improve how the EU, based on a common strategic vision and drawing on its wide array of existing tools and instruments, collectively can develop, embed and deliver more coherent and more effective policies, working practices, actions and results". The Council said that: "Its fundamental principles are relevant for the broad spectrum of EU external action" and that "[t]he need for such a comprehensive approach is most acute in crisis and conflict situations and in fragile states, enabling a rapid and effective EU response, including through conflict prevention". For the full text of the on the Comprehensive Approach, see pp.17-21 of the Council Conclusions. Back

39   See Council Conclusions on CSDP. Back

40   See Section II of the European Council Conclusions. Back

41   See the HR's Strategic Review: The European Union in a changing global environment: A more connected, contested and complex world. Back

42   See The Lisbon Treaty, Article 44 TEU. Back

43   See Munich Security Conference. Back

44   The Government's strategic defence and security review, which will dictate the UK armed forces' capabilities and posture for the next five years, and which is due to report towards the end of 2015. Back

45   For chapter and verse, see (35696), 17859/13, JOIN(13) 30: Twenty-ninth Report HC 219-xxviii (2014-15), chapter 12 (14 January 2015) and the earlier Reports referred to therein. Back

46   See Explanatory Memorandum of 4 August 2015. Back

47   See Section II of the European Council Conclusions. Back

48   See Council Conclusions on CSDP. Back

49   See Council Conclusions on CSDP. Back

50   See The European Union in a changing global environment: A more connected, contested and complex world. Back

51   A type of warfare widely understood to blend conventional/unconventional, regular/irregular, and information and cyber warfare. For a discussion of "hybrid threats", see Hybrid war - does it even exist? in the Nato Review. Back

52   See (36825), 8504/15, JOIN(15) 17: First Report HC 342-i (2015-16), chapter 26 (21 July 2015) for the Committee's consideration of the relevant Joint Communication on capacity building in support of security and development. Back

53   The relevant document says that, to achieve an overall EU Rapid Response (RR), both the political reaction and the EU Military Response need to be fast and effective. While this concept addresses the Military Response, it also identifies preparation and planning issues that can contribute to reducing the reaction time and provides the conceptual framework for the preparation and conduct of CSDP joint and single service military operations/missions requiring a Rapid Response in the land, maritime and air domains, and including special operations, as a part of the EU multidimensional response. The document describes the EU's approach to Military Rapid Response and how it could be delivered. This EU Military RR action may either involve EU Battlegroups (Joint Land Centric RR), Single Service RR elements (Land, Maritime or Air), Joint RR (combining EU BG and Single Services RR elements, or combining Single Service RR elements) or any other RR elements offered by volunteered Member States. It will define Military Rapid Response, its nature, characteristics, principles and procedures and establish the framework within which subordinate Military Rapid Response concepts sit, in accordance with three principal EU military concepts: EU Concept for Military Planning at the Political and Strategic level, EU Concept for Military Command and Control), and EU Concept for Force Generation. See Military Rapid Response Concept. Back

54   A Battlegroup is the minimum militarily effective a credible and coherent, rapidly deployable force package capable of stand-alone operations or for the initial phase of larger operations. It is based on a combined-arms, battalion-sized force, reinforced with combat-support and combat service-support elements. In their generic composition, but depending on the mission, Battlegroups are about 1 500 personnel strong. See EU Battlegroups for full information. Back

55   See the Annex to this chapter of our Report. Back

56   See EU High Representative's Report. Back

57   See Progress Report on implementation of the EU Defence Communication. Back

58   See Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector.  Back

59   The European Council, in its Conclusions of December 2013 which also endorsed the 25th November 2013 Council Conclusions, welcomed the Communication and decided to review progress in all relevant areas in June 2015. The Commission took the European Council Conclusions as the basis to pursue the following objectives:

"an Internal Market for Defence where European companies can operate freely and without discrimination in all Member States; an EU-wide security of supply regime where armed forces can be sure to be sufficiently supplied in all circumstances no matter in which Member State their suppliers are established; a Preparatory Action on CSDP-related research to explore the potential of a European research programme which, in the future, may cover both security and defence.  This is in addition to exploiting all possible synergies between existing civil and defence research; and an industrial policy which fosters competitiveness of European defence industries and helps to deliver at affordable prices all the capabilities Europe needs to guarantee its security."

To pursue these objectives, the Commission established a "roadmap" for the activities set out in the Communication. It includes a broad variety of actions from different but often interrelated policies:

"improving security of supply between Member States, for example, will facilitate cross-border market access for defence companies; better standardisation will foster interoperability and market openness; common certification will reduce costs and enhance industry's competiveness, etc. Taken together, all these actions will contribute to making the European defence and security sector more efficient and thereby strengthen the Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)." See European Defence Implementation Roadmap for Communication COM (2013) 542. Back

60   See The European Union in a changing global environment: A more connected, contested and complex world. Back


 
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Prepared 23 September 2015