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    Calls for the creation of a European common defence policy

    EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday have been urged to produce a “short and clear set of future deliverables” on creating a European common defence policy. A leading Brussels think tank says the two day summit is a chance to have a “substantial and frank debate” in order to forge a “lasting and credible vision for CSDP.”

    The plea, by Andrea Frontini of the European Policy Centre, comes as EU leaders meet in the Belgian capital to once again discuss the Greek economic crisis.

    Frontini said, “Once again, the European Council’s overburdened agenda, spanning from the renewed risks of Grexit and the future of EU-UK relations, to some delicate discussions on the diverse crises affecting Ukraine and the Mediterranean Sea, will make it difficult to secure enough time for an in-depth debate on CSDP.”

    She adds, “Yet, should EU leaders succeed in ring-fencing a spot in their challenging to-do-list.”

    “Two and a half years after the decision of the (then) European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to put defence back on the agenda of EU’s ‘high politics’, the balance sheet of CSDP offers very mixed results.”

    EU leaders should, she argues, refrain from “merely” endorsing the bulky catalogue of decisions and actions taken at a lower political or bureaucratic  level.

    “Instead, they actually need to ‘talk tough politics’ when discussing a policy area so vital for the security of European citizens but severely constrained by (often overplayed) considerations of national sovereignty.”

    Since early 2014, an intense intra-European assessment process has been put in place to deliver an effective and multi-faceted policy response to the many challenges affecting European defence in general, and CSDP in particular.

    The early results of such a considerable mobilisation effort have been highlighted in several EU documents last May, including the High Representative/Vice President  Mogherini’s ‘Report on the CSDP’

    Frontini says, “The regular, high-level review process inaugurated in December 2013 is an important achievement, which needs to be maintained well beyond the forthcoming rendezvous of EU leaders.

    “However, such an appointment should avoid becoming an ‘automatic generator of statements’, but rather strive to fully exploit the expected added value of a top-level political event.

    “A relatively short and clear set of future deliverables for CSDP, accompanied by a politically charged emphasis on Europe’s security interdependence, would be an encouraging outcome of the summit.”

    By Martin Banks