29 June 2022,   01:54
The war in Ukraine has shown that we need to jointly address the existing shortcomings in order to strengthen our defense capabilities - Borrell

The war in Ukraine has shown that we need to jointly address the existing shortcomings in order to strengthen our defense capabilities. Such a statement made today the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

“In accordance with the Strategy Compass, today we have established the Hub for European Defence Innovation. The purpose is to stimulate, facilitate and support cooperation on innovation in the military field [among Member States]. It is the first deliverable of the Strategic Compass.

Then, we went to the analysis on the defence investments gap that we will present tomorrow, together with the Commission, in response to the tasking from the Leaders in Versailles. And I can summarise the results: it is that the Europeans need to spend together, more and better. These three things. And since it looks like that there is a certain readiness to spend more, it is the occasion to spend together because spending together is the best way of spending better. If every Member State increases its defence expenditures, multiplying by “X” its current expenditure, the result will be a big waste of money because we will be multiplying our gaps, our loopholes and not decreasing our duplications - on the contrary, increasing our duplications.

The analysis that the Agency has been doing, systematically every year, has been very much useful in the preparation of the report that the College [of Commissioners] will study tomorrow and that will be presented to the Leaders [of the Member States of the European Union].

You know that the Agency produces this Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (the CARD reports), and the Capability Development Plan, where we study what do we have, which are our capabilities and what do we need to have. And this is the gap - the gap is what we have and what we should have or what we need to have.

Taking into account the current security context, marked by the return of war to Europe, this analysis is becoming much more important. The analysis looks at gaps in the short term. The first thing to do is to refill our stockpiles of military material. In the medium term, we have to augment our existing capabilities and, in the long term, we have to reinforce and modernise.

Can I put a figure to the gap? Yes. If we had been spending on defence every year from 2009 until 2018, the same amount of money that we were spending in 2009 – every year the same amount of money than in 2009 for 9 years -, we would had spent in defence €160 billion more. Now we are at the same level as in 2008. We have recovered this gap, but the accumulated difference, adding up all the annual gaps with respect to 2009, makes €160 billion. It has been a strong disarmament process, a silent disarmament process that Europeans have been going through. And very happily, because less military expenditure means more money for other purposes. But now we face the consequences of this accumulated gap. And we have to recover from these dynamics.

Then, we move to how to recover? This is the big question. [In the] short term, refilling stocks. [In the] medium term, increase the existing capabilities. [In the] long term, to reinforce and modernise. It is going to be a big task, and a big occasion also for our industry. The war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call, making clear that we have to fill these gaps and increase our defence capabilities.

Then, we went to the Foreign Affairs Council Defence. We updated Ministers on the latest developments in Mali. Let me summarise [it]. We do not have the guarantees by the transition authorities on non-interference by the Russian mercenaries [with the Malian Armed Forces trained by EUTM].

On the contrary, we have seen an increasing pattern of collusion and allegations of grave human rights abuses [that are] being investigated by the United Nations. The latest regrettable decision by Mali to pull out from the G5 Sahel only adds to this. So, we decided to reaffirm our provisional decision [that we took a month ago] of suspending operational training to form units of the Malian Armed Forces and the National Guard. We have also suspended the delivery of military equipment under the European Peace Facility, which was on the way.

This does not mean that we are leaving the Sahel. On the contrary, we want to do more and to do better. For that, we will reallocate our military resources to the neighbouring countries. We will look at what is happening in the Gulf of Guinea and we will reduce our effectives in Mali itself. Since we are not going to continue delivering military training, we will decrease our effectives. In the next weeks, we will present the Strategic Review of the two EU Mali missions [EUTM Mali and EUCAP Sahel Mali] to Member States. But we are not cancelling these missions.

Then, we went to the [Strategic] Compass. [As] you know, the Compass is a very operational document with 80 concrete actions and a time to deliver. And 51 of these 80 concrete actions have to be implemented already this year. We are working on it. We have explained to the Ministers what we are doing and what we expect the Member States to do on space, on fighting Foreign Information Manipulation, or on developing this Rapid Deployment Capacity. 51 of these measurers have to be implemented this year.

Then, we moved on to the study on how we can make our CSDP Missions and Operations more effective. This is another request from the Compass. [We need] more flexibility in order to respond to our partners’ needs. More targeted training, accompanying and with equipment. We cannot have a fit-for-all formula. We have to be able to adapt the missions to the current security environment.

We should try, for example, to authorise executive tasks – not just training, but executive tasks - using Article 44 [of the Treaty on European Union], which allows EU Member States to agree to execute certain tasks that could represent an executive mission under the EU banner without having to be all together. We need unanimity, but not unanimous participation. Those who do not want to participate can let others go.

We must be able to prevent better and not only respond to crises. We have to act before a crisis erupts. The Gulf of Guinea is a good example. We know that there are some crises that look like the ones in the Sahel. [For example] what is happening in Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso. So we need to act before the crisis erupts and we have to be prepared to provide support to our partners well before we are in an urgent situation. We need smaller, more agile teams, that can address specific requests for targeted trainings, advice, equipment and accompaniment. This is the formula.

Then, we went to [discuss] Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. We were joined by Ukraine’s Minister of Defence, Mr [Oleksii] Reznikov via videoconference, as well as NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mr [Mircea] Geoana. Minister Reznikov gave us an account of the situation on the ground, and the needs of the Ukrainian army that we continue to support. This support is making a difference on the battlefield [and] the capacities of the Ukrainian army. We need to sustain their efforts. We have to replenish resources and stockpiles. This support is critical because the war is at a turning point.

We cannot let Ukraine run out of equipment. And we will not. The battle in the Donbass is at a moment in which the counteroffensive of the Ukrainians and [the] push [against] the Russians are having some extraordinary success - like the one the other day against a column of Russian tanks, shows that Ukrainians continue having an incredible capacity to resist and counterattack.

The additional tranche of €500 million will bring to €2 billion the total military support from the European Union. But this is just a part of the Europeans’ efforts. Member States from their side they are also making a lot of efforts. I will not give you the total amount, but it is much more than people believe. It is a good thing to continue doing. We have done it since the beginning of the war, and we have to continue until the end.

The delivery is advancing thanks to the hard work of the Clearing House Cell. It is working in cooperation and coordination with the Cell that was created in Rammstein in order to pull together efforts not only of EU Member States, but of everyone - US, UK, Canada and many others that are supporting Ukraine. Our [EU] Advisory Mission to Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine) today is back to Kyiv and will support the Ukrainian authorities through civilian activities, supporting border management and investigation and prosecution of war crimes”, - said Josep Borrell.