Articles and Columns, 12/18/2002
Foreign Ministers of Sweden and Finland: Combating new threats with deeper solidarity
An article by the Foreign Ministers of Sweden and Finland, Anna Lindh and Erkki Tuomioja published in Helsingin Sanomat and Dagens Nyheter on December 18.
Since the events of September 11th 2001, the way that we perceive threats has changed dramatically. The most severe threat is now terrorism, which long before 9/11 had given us a foretaste of its capacity to cause human suffering and economic damage. What is even worse is that weapons of mass destruction - biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear - may be already in the possession of international terrorists, who take advantage of and use weak, undemocratic and conflict-prone countries as their seedbeds and support areas.
While the risk of conventional warfare has receded, new non-military threats have gained ground, terrorism being only one of them. Military instruments have hardly any effect on them; they all call for broad-based and multilateral international cooperation. The European Union also has to decide on how it intends to respond to the new threats.
When the Treaty of Amsterdam was being prepared five years ago, the EU needed new practical tools to employ in the event of crises, to complement political and diplomatic activities. Finland and Sweden then suggested that the EU could take on peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks in crisis and colflict areas. The suggestion appears to have been well chosen, as it received the support of all Member States in the informal meeting of EU heads of government in Pörtschach, Austria, in 1998. That approval provided a stimulus for intensive work to build up the required civil and military structures.
In spring 2000, Finland and Sweden submitted a joint proposal concerning the development of the Union’s civil capabilities for crisis management. The EU has now progressed markedly in the creation of both military and civilian crisis-management capabilities within the framework of the CFSP, which rests on the principles of the UN Charter. The civilian capability goals have been achieved and we have reason to believe that the military objectives too will be reached in 2003.
Within a few weeks from now, the EU will launch its first civilian operation, a police mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thus the time has now come to write civilian crisis management into the Treaty of the European Union.
We are satisfied with the progress made so far, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Considering the global threats that exist, it is important to find new, better and more constructive forms of cooperation.
Crisis management operations often include a variety of civilian and military components, so they must have unambiguous political leadership. And it is important to emphasise that it is the Member States - who through the Council decide on any given operation - who always have ultimate responsibility for it and a duty to maintain political control over EU action. It is equally important that these activities have clear operational leadership. The Secretary General/High Representative must be able, under the supervision of the Council, to ensure that all the instruments of the Union are utilized with consistency. For that reason, his or her role should perhaps be strengthened. Moreover, when the Treaty is being reformed - with the aim of creating lucid and unequivocal working methods - the opportunity would arise to clarify the distribution of the aforementioned responsibilities.
The European Union has global influence in foreign policy. We consider that the Union’s crisis management capability should be available for use wherever there is a need for it, in close cooperation with the UN - which is also facing new challenges - and regional organizations. The UN has expressed a hope, for example in the Brahimi report, to receive more support from Europe for its crisis management. To be able to manage such assignments, the EU has to acquire new civilian and military capabilities, which can be deployed over long distances, and it is also necessary to establish well-functioning collaborative arrangements with the UN. Peace enforcement always requires a mandate from the UN.
There may also be need to develop some new means available for EU in crisis situations. We have witnessed, for example, a great need for post-conflict reform and reorganization of armed forces. This may be primarily a matter of disarmament and demobilization but may also include overall reform of armed forces in order to consolidate democratic control and the adjustment to new conditions. There might also be a need to collect small arms held by the populace of a crisis area.
The EU should also strengthen its preparedness to prevent conflicts. We need to be able to utilise all of our resources better than hitherto; including political, diplomatic, military and civilian resources. To be credible and effective in conflict prevention we have to be able to deploy military units or observers to prevent the escalation of political crises into armed conflicts. In the important field of civilian-military cooperation the Nordic countries are exemplary.
The EU’s voice in world politics has grown stronger. In foreign policy, the EU is a strong player that others have to take notice of. There is much work ahead of us but we are convinced of the necessity and significance of concerted action by all Member States in the development of security and defence policy. This does not imply that all Member States should take part in all crisis management operations launched by the Union. Each state decides case-by-case about the operations that it will take part in and about the form of its participation. However, effective EU operations need the political support of all Member States. Only concerted action will make the European Union a credible, dependable and influential actor in the eyes of the world. There is discussion about whether cooperation within the Union should also cover defence materiel.
Against the backdrop of cross-border, global threats, the idea of deeper mutual solidarity among the Member States seems natural. If one Member State became the target of an international terrorist attack, the other Member States would naturally arrange various forms of assistance if the assaulted country requested help. This is why the Convention has started to discuss the idea of a clause on deeper solidarity. We take a favourable stance on this matter provided that the clause is not formulated in a manner that would cause confusion between it and the military security guarantees enshrined in NATO's founding treaty. The envisaged clause should express the wish of Member States to coordinate law enforcement measures plus judicial and economic instruments, and it should also refer to coordination of military resources under civilian leadership in the context of emergency tasks designed to protect civilian populations and democratic institutions. In our view the core issue here is the establishment of suitable conditions for reciprocal solidarity so that humanitarian and civil emergency measures can be used to help a Member State that has become a target of international terrorism.
The acceptance of a clause like this would mean that we would be highlighting the significance of existing political solidarity and improving the ability of Member States to make plans and preparations at an early stage in order for them to cope in the best possible manner should such an emergency arise.
It is difficult, by military means alone, for us to protect ourselves against terrorism and other new threats. This is usually a job for the police and intelligence services, and cooperation between those two is being rapidly expanded and intensified. There may be situations in the future, however, when a military contribution is required. We consider that then it would be an issue of territorial defence for each state, and carried out under national responsibility. If such a task were given to the Union, there is a risk of the Union’s character being changed and of the Union being transformed into a defence alliance. That is something we do not want. Europe already has NATO for countries that want to take part in that kind of cooperation. There is neither reason nor possibility to maintain two defence alliances with largely the same members. In the EU, cooperation focuses on foreign policy as well as judicial and police activities. The EU and NATO complement one another remarkably well in the fight against international terrorism and other security threats.