The area of defence has undergone profound changes in the space of a few years. While conflicts multiply in the “arc of instability” surrounding the European Union, NATO, which for now remains the pillar of Western defence, is experiencing strong tensions due to both the positions of the Trump administration (while awaiting the outcome of the presidential elections) and the actions of key members such as Turkey. At the same time, emerging security challenges, such as cybersecurity and energy security, are becoming increasingly important. This is indeed why the CSF has for long been developing a vision of the issue of “security” for the EU that takes into account its multiple dimensions; not only military defence, but also energy, “technological sovereignty” and the prevention of environmental risks.
The EU has been able to take important steps in the field of defence, starting with the launch of the EU Global Strategy in 2016, then of the European Defence Fund and “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (PESCO), involving 25 Member States. While Brexit has meant losing the UK’s military contribution, it has also helped the EU move forward on bold decisions where there had long been deadlock. Alongside this, the need to redefine relations with Russia in the medium-long term also requires new reflection on the security architecture on the European continent.
In 2021, the CSF will be further exploring issues related to both the development of joint military capabilities in the EU (starting from PESCO projects) and to the institutional and economic context in which this commitment must be placed. Among the most important issues are: military mobility in Europe, also with important infrastructural repercussions; the strengthening of the European Military Staff and the creation of a unified command, above all for the EU military (including executive) and civilian missions, with the permanent availability of European troops; the need for a unified approach to cybersecurity and against “hybrid” threats; the implementation of joint programs for a European defence industry (which fosters the creation of “European federal companies”), also in the light of the acceleration of military collaboration between France and Germany.
A key theme at the “institutional” level will be the relationship between the European defence nucleus and NATO, whose role remains central for the time being, albeit in a context of great uncertainty, because it is able to offer a structured operational framework. In any case, the problem will arise of the gradual organization of a “strategic autonomy” of European defence, endowed with a single fund (while the proposal for the European multiannual budget foresees a dangerous reduction in the funds allocated to “defence”), that does not compromise the possibility, in the medium-long term, of enlarging NATO and redesigning its mission while anchoring it to the United Nations. Europe should also explore the possibility of synergistically leveraging actors such as the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which may enable institutionalized dialogue with Russia, a member of both.
The CSF will continue to support actions aimed at enhancing the strong competences that the city of Turin has in high-level military training; a key element (as also shown by the experience in the US) for the creation of integrated military forces at the European level. In this regard, the reference actor is the Interdepartmental University School of Strategic Sciences (SUISS), which acts as a bridge between the University of Turin and the Italian Training Command and Application School of the Army.
(From CSF’s 2021 Guidelines - approved on 31 October 2020)