This page was archived on October 2020.


European security issues

18 - Solidarity on European security

Grade: A-
Unity 4/5
Resources 4/5
Strategy 4/5
Impact 4/5
Total 16/20
Scorecard 2015: B+ (15/20)

Despite being distracted by multiple other crises, the EU successfully defended member states that are vulnerable to Russia

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine prompted Europe to re-examine its own security arrangements. Mostly this is done in the NATO context – at the Wales Summit of 2014, members decided to significantly boost defence in Eastern Europe; a follow-up is expected from the Warsaw Summit in 2016. Much security assistance to the potentially vulnerable European NATO members – such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – comes from the US on the basis of bilateral agreements.

The question of how to apply the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act remains a point of disagreement. The act forbids NATO from placing permanent troops on the territories of the new members if security conditions do not significantly alter. Eastern European states claim that the act should be null and void, on the grounds that Russia has violated it and altered the security situation, but some Western members, especially Germany, still want to uphold the letter of the act. The solution that has been found – to rotate the troops constantly and pre-position equipment – is by and large satisfactory, although the border states would still prefer permanent positioning. Several European countries – Germany and the UK deserve to be mentioned – have promised to send or have sent troops to eastern areas. At the same time, Europe as a whole does not invest enough in defence – and this is a longer-term problem that needs to be dealt with.

The refugee crisis and ISIS-sponsored terrorist attacks in France shifted Europe’s focus in 2015, making Syria a priority, and increasing tensions between Western and some Eastern member states over refugee inflows, but so far this has not affected EU determination to deter Russian aggression.

France deserves credit for cancelling the deal to sell two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.