The EU between defence- and security-political passivity and military operational impotence

A study comparing a possible European defence union with the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Ilya Zarrouk

At the time of the Weimar Republic already, the concepts of „security and freedom“ became part of the know-how about national and moral values. In this context, they also determined the then European overall situation as well as the European system of nations with the respective affiliating foreign-political activities. In the Weimar republic people contemplated an integrated military cooperation already, as did the former Commission President Jean-Claude Junker when he put the topic of a European Army on the agenda shortly before his handover of office. In the following analysis one has, therefore, to ask the question how a possible European defence union, and thus a European army as well, will be able to actively defend, and perhaps even occupy, European interests. Here, the concepts of activity and passivity are essential. Will the EU be able to stretch its 60 years of integration into a variable geometry of security-political cooperation at all? Into a real defence union with a European army? Is this even possible from both a strategic and an operational view? Or is this Utopia rather, which will never come into being? This essay is supposed to scrutinise that. Thus, here is outlined that a defence union in the form of the states of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and their allied Arab neighbours has not led to the desired military-operational success – neither in Yemen nor in Iraq, Syria and Libya. These war regions have become scions of proxy wars, and – which is even more extreme – they are now hotbeds for the infiltration of arms trading and terrorism. Thus, the GCC demonstrates that it was incapable of appeasing certain war regions, let alone arriving at a military decision. In times when the transatlantic relationships dissolve it is very necessary that the EU and its 27 member states not only discuss a strategy with geostrategic design, but that the EU initiates a necessary development of its member states, thus generating military capacities, with the objective to be able react correspondingly in times of crises. Only that way the European institutions of the EU – both OSCE and NATO – can be understood to be security institutions, which understand the liabilities as a variable geometry of the security-political cooperation, thus also becoming able to strengthen the prerogative rights of the national member states.