“A new page in the defense of the EU”, according to the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, quoted by Euronews. Between October 16 and 22, “the European Union is carrying out its very first real military exercise (LIVEX) from the Rota naval base located in the province of Cádiz, in Spain,” explains Ouest-France.
The objective of the exercise: “to test on a full-scale basis what the EU’s rapid deployment capacity could be, supposed to be operational by 2025,” continues the regional daily. Euractiv recalls that the latter is part of the strategic compass, “the first military strategy of the European Union, approved by the Member States in March 2022”. In a tense international context, this is “intended to increase the capacity for action of the bloc” that constitutes the Union, adds RFI.
In total, the simulation coordinates the troops of “19 member states, including Austria, Spain, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal and even Romania” [Euractiv].
A full-scale exercise in real conditions
In addition to the 2,800 European soldiers present on site, there are “25 planes, such as the Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon, and six ships, including assault ships and a French mine hunter,” details Politico. This major deployment is accompanied by “space and cyber assets as well as special operations forces” [Euractiv]. LIVEX is financed “by the 5 million euro budget of the European Peace Facility for MILEX23,” the EU’s military crisis management exercise, Politico reports.
The scenario: the EU must urgently dispatch its troops “to rescue a fictitious European ally called Seglia who is asking for help to deal with a rapidly deteriorating security situation due to a violent extremist group”, relates the media. According to Ouest-France, this simulation includes “an amphibious assault, the securing and taking control of a landing port (Seaport of Debarkation) and an insertion of land resources to secure the theater”.
Through this exercise, the Union seeks to “strengthen preparation and interoperability between the armies of EU countries as well as to move towards the creation of a rapid deployment capacity with other exercise scenarios , in particular rescue and evacuation”, deciphers Euronews. “We must be prepared to act as necessary to protect our citizens and contribute to global stability. And for that, we have to train together,” said the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell, interviewed by The Sun. Enough to position the Union as a “guarantor of global security” according to the European official.
A new step towards a Europe of defense?
“Europe, soon a military power?” asks ZDF during this military exercise. As the German media points out, “attempts to make Europe a military power have a long history”, marked in particular by the failure of the European Defense Community in the 1950s. Since then, the Union has is “focused on its economic strength. And when it came to security issues, it deferred either to nation states or to NATO – and therefore to the United States,” notes ZDF.
But for Politico, the tide is turning: “Following Russia’s war against Ukraine, the EU – a project initially designed to maintain peace – has sought to become more of a military power” . In addition, the prospect of Donald Trump’s return to the White House has led “the [European] bloc to try to depend less on Washington in matters of defense and security”, analyzes Politico.
An agenda particularly pushed by France, which wants a “more coordinated defense policy at the European level”, notes Euronews. However, some countries fear that this approach “will lead to a weakening of the role of NATO” in Europe, reports the television channel. Present at the exercise, the head of the EU Military Committee, Austrian General Robert Brieger, wanted to be reassuring on this point: “There is room for both organizations,” he said. [Politico].
Euractiv reports that in addition to its rapid deployment capacity, the Union “hopes to establish a military planning and conduct capability” by 2025. In the meantime, “the next and second exercise” of the intervention force will take place in Germany in 2024, indicates ZDF.
This article is originally published on touteleurope.eu