European security shrewdness: As worldwide economic, geopolitical and military competition increases and new security alliances are taking shape, Member States are increasingly isolated, but their military spending continues to break records. Given the reluctance of some Member States to establish a common defence union, how can the EU adapt its security policy to these unprecedented geopolitical developments?

Submitted by: Ischa van Bemmel (NL), Felix Crawford (NL), Boet Heijmerink (NL), Daantje van Hout (NL), Willem Knibbe (NL), Nicole Lahmer (CH), Hélène Mulder (NL), Marcus van Strier (NL), Ivor Meštrović (Chairperson, HR)

The European Youth Parliament

  1. Points out the fact that Member States have conflicting approaches and interests which makes it difficult to reach necessary political consensus on the EU’s security and defence policies, resulting in:
    1. imperfect cooperation between Member States regarding their security and defence, especially in terms of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)1 The Permanent Structured Cooperation is a coordinating body within the EU with which Member States freely join to further strengthen their security and defence policy through various projects, trainings,  researches,  initiatives, and similar activities. , and European Union Military Staff (EUMS),
    2. frictions and inefficiencies in cooperation between Member States’ defence and security structures and the EU agencies responsible for security and defence, such as the European Defence Agency (EDA)2 The European Defence Agency is  an intergovernmental agency of the Council of the European Union. Its mission is to support Member States and the Council in their effort to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the security and defence policies., and the European External Action Service (EEAS),
    3. deficient development and insufficient execution of such policies, especially in terms of cooperation and coordination,
  2. Deeply concerned with the lacking cooperation and ineffective communication between the European Union agencies and Member State counterparts on common security and defence policies,
  3. Realises a lack of a common approach to the protection of EU external borders while welcoming the supportive work of Frontex3 Frontex is an EU agency designated to support Member States’ border security forces on the external borders of the EU. on the matter,
  4. Welcomes the harmonising, peace-seeking and security-enhancing work done through PESCO, EDA, and several projects financed by the European Defence Fund (EDF),
  5. Recognises the EU’s dependence on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for its security and defence following the Berlin Plus Agreement4 The Berlin Plus Agreement is a comprehensive set of agreements made between NATO and the EU to strengthen the Union’s security and defence, specifically against external threats.,
  6. Fully aware of the impact of recently formed alliances (e.g. AUKUS), rising geo-political tensions (e.g. Russia-Ukraine), as well as assertive foreign policy approaches of other States such as the People’s Republic of China on the European continent, notes:
    1. increasing public demand for a common defence union,
    2. polarisation of public and political opinion in Member States, in relation to both domestic and foreign policy,
    3. varying levels of Member States’ dependence on non-EU states on matters critical to national security and defence, predominantly energy and infrastructure,
    4. further enhancement of Member State cooperation through joint bilateral pacts and purchases of military equipment,
  7. Alarmed by the lack of a long-term EU security and defence strategy,
  8. Acknowledges the importance of civilian aspects of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP),
  9. Aware of the lack of protection from ever-expanding hybrid threats, leading to an unsafe digital environment for EU citizens,
  10. Regrets excessive military expenditure across Member States due to:
    1. decentralised military production and conduct of research,
    2. lacking Member State and EU institutional cooperation,
  11. Considers EU citizens’ distress that the incumbent EU security and defence policy is insufficient for keeping up with other global powers and challenges, and in turn requires increased development,
  12. Acknowledges the increased calls for a common defence union,
  13. Takes into consideration the possibility of Member States not joining the common defence union due to their specific values, interests, and political leanings,
  14. Understands that Member States grouping together on defence could be considered as a geopolitical provocation outside of the EU;
  1. Urges the EDA and Member States to give preference to trade with other Member States and their allies regarding defence critical goods5 Defence critical goods are all items and objects considered to be of essential importance for the national security of a particular State. over States which do not align with the set of common EU values;
  2. Calls upon the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats to cooperate with the EDA to better prepare and protect against external cyber threats across the entire EU, by:
    1. further providing trainings and exercises for hybrid threats,
    2. further providing and participating in research and analysis on hybrid and cyber threats,
    3. coordinating and considering different needs and liabilities of Member States,
    4. advising Member States’ governments, as well as the EDA on potential threats,
    5. bringing together different stakeholders when it comes to hybrid threats;
  3. Disapproves of the individualised security alliances between Member States which weaken the CSDP;
  4. Appeals to Member States’ intelligence agencies to stimulate cooperation on a more substantial and common basis by setting up frequent meetings to discuss shared interests and goals;
  5. Suggests the European Council to make the defence and security policies of the EU less dependent on NATO;
  6. Emphasises and strongly encourages the importance of civilian aspects of the CSDP in education, mediation, aiding border security agencies, and diplomacy;
  7. Requests the SEDE Committee of the European Parliament to promote transparency through a variety of social platforms, for example, newspapers and TV shows;
  8. Directs the European Council and EEAS to centre the EU’s approach to security and defence around conflict de-escalation and peacekeeping to maintain the EU’s neutral position in the world;
  9. Appeals to PESCO to restructure their policies and projects regarding EU security and defence so that their guidelines are more in line with those of the CSDP, thus stimulating the two to work together more closely and in turn better aid Member States and the EU’s defence and security goals;
  10. Welcomes the common approach to the protection of EU external borders done by Frontex;
  11. Requests the European Commission to propose a restructuring of the EDA into an executive agency with its direction being decided by Member States’ heads of government and defence and security ministries, with:
    1. the leadership consisting of chosen 27 Member States’ government’s representatives,
    2. monthly meetings with all relevant members from all Member States,
    3. establishing far-reaching common values and principles in terms of security and defence in the form an explicit declaration of the Union itself and its 27 Member States,
    4. harmonising Member States’ stances on external threats,
    5. drafting, discussing, creating, and publishing medium- and long-term security and defence priorities and strategies of the EU,
    6. further integrating armed forces of Member States while allowing them to opt out of such shared EU forces, should they consider it to be onerous,
  12. Urges the EDF to structure opportunities for unified EU-wide military equipment purchases in order to:
    1. encourage the signing of only short- and medium-term contracts to create healthy market competition in the defence sector, 
    2.  increase overall product quality;
  13. Calls upon the EDA to enhance communication between the security and defence institutions in regard to situational developments, with the main goal being to be able to compete with the other global powers.