The Creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force by an Avant-Guard Group of Countries: a Proposal (3/3)

, by Domenico Moro

The Creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force by an Avant-Guard Group of Countries: a Proposal (3/3)

The proposal contained in this document provides for the creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) by an avant-guard group of European countries, as a first step towards a European policy of security controlled by a European Federal government. It is founded on the contents of the Reform Treaty (RT) recently approved in Lisbon. The words “Rapid Reaction Force” and “security”, instead of “army” and “defence”, are used in the conviction that a European security policy will be a structural pause compared to the pure policy of power which characterised each European country up to the first half of the twentieth century [1].

Thanks to the single currency the EU became a global actor on the monetary plane and now the Reform Treaty has created the conditions for the EU to make significant steps forward even in the sphere of security policy. The proposal here presented refers to the institutional innovations contained in the RT in which a qualified majority is scheduled for, and it presumes that they will form a legal base sufficient to allow an avant-guard group of countries of the Union to have a Rapid Reaction Force at the service of the European Council and, as set up in the RT, of the United Nations.

The issue concerning the initiative and a controlling structure of the RRF

After having outlined the legal and economic situation, the issue concerning the initiative has to be dealt with. In other words, if the RT gives the States the power to take a decision, it is also necessary for one of them to be responsible for its promotion and to suggest it to others. The other problem that needs an answer concerns the institutional structure, both political and technical, to which the RRF should be answerable to.

As far as the initiative is concerned, the only country that, for historical, political and technical reasons, could probably take it is France, which however shall have to make the difficult decision of giving up sovereignty, as Germany did for the currency, in this sensitive sector, to a European institution. If France takes the initiative, this does not mean that there should not be any other Country ready to follow her in this decision. This Country could be Italy since thanks to the present policy of financial reconstruction and with the operation in the Lebanon, it has reacquired solid credibility at European level. In the meantime, it should be remarked that about 50% of the soldiers operating outside EU borders are French and Italian, that is the two countries that could give life to a credible initiative to start up the RRF.

Contrary to the currency, however, the problem concerning the control of this structure by European democratic institutions cannot of course be postponed to after the implementation of the RRF, but must be solved at the same time it is implemented. With regard to this one can observe that, at present, within the Union there are political and military structures that were created when the decision to give life to the CFSP, the ESDP and the Rapid Reaction Force was made. The Countries that, by means of a permanent structured cooperation, decide to implement the RRF should support this decision with a solemn declaration on the basis of which they commit themselves to putting it under the control of European institutions. In relation to this, procedures similar to those established for the euro, must be thought of.

The political authority to which the RRF must refer to is the European Council, made up of the Heads of State and government of the countries participating in the structured cooperation. The political and military institutions, aptly strengthened, shall on the contrary be those that were already provided for in the Helsinki European Council in 1999 (the policy and security Committee, the military Committee, made up of the Chiefs of Defence Staff, and the General Staff, etc.) in a set up limited to the participating countries.

Some open issues

Assuming that an avant-guard of States decides to proceed with the implementation of an RRF, the remaining open issues are at least three and not at all negligible. The first is that of European security strategy which the RRF shall serve. The other two strictly depend on the first, that is the relationship between the RRF and NATO and the management of the European nuclear arsenal.

The first, partial, attempt to give the EU its own security strategy was made by Solana with the document “A secure Europe in a better world”. Its importance is not so much due to the fact that it is the first document of this type, even though it is considered insufficient by many, but because it defines the specificity of the European approach, compared to the American one, in the security sector.

If, between the two shores of the Atlantic, the analysis concerning global threats is substantially the same, the differences emerge in the means with which they are faced. In its arsenal, the EU also includes civilian assets (humanitarian policies, diplomatic pressure, trade policies ad hoc, embargoes, etc.) to be used first, whereas military assets are considered to be only a last resort.

This difference in approach, together with the decision to give life to an RRF, cannot but influence the relationships within NATO, in which the countries that decide to promote a structured cooperation shall have to be present with a single voice. It would however be wrong, on Europe’s part, to present the problem of a single European representative within NATO exclusively in terms of a rebalancing of the relationship with the USA.

Europeans, should, on this occasion, present the problem of the transformation of NATO into an institution for world security at the service of the United Nations and open to the States from other continents [2].

It is within this framework that the problem of the future of the European nuclear arsenal (and American) should be put and the solution found.



[1For a detailed discussion on European foreign policy and security, see: PALEA R. (edited by), The role of Europe in the world, Alpina, Turin, 2006, and the articles by PISTONE S., which were published in various editions of the journals Piemonteuropa and Il Federalista.

[2This perspective is discussed for example in: STREIT C., Union Now – A proposal for an Atlantic Federal Union of the Free, Federal Union, reprint, 1976 (original edition by: New York, 1938, Harper & Row).

Your comments

  • On 11 August 2008 at 16:59, by ESLaPorte Replying to: The Creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force by an Avant-Guard Group of Countries: a Proposal (3/3)

    I have long been a believer that the Atlantic system is out dated and even immoral. The reality is that Europeans and Americans think differently on issues of security and how to address issues, such as terrorism. I firmly believe in an independent from NATO European security and defense system that is made in Europe, in Brussels and national capitals, and not dictated from Washington.

    The narrow lens of military power as the only meaningful instrument of foreign relations dominates American foreign policy and this is why Americans view terrorism (which is a police-law enforcement problem) as a military problem that is “fought” through a “war.” American foreign policy realists are comfortable with the use of military force, even when military power is inappropriate.

    The European Security Strategy, the Solana Paper, addresses many solutions to security problems where the first use of military power is inappropriate. Unless we are talking about a state sponsor of terrorism, military force is inappropriate in the struggle against terrorism. Terrorism in largely a police-law enforcement problem that requires international police cooperation, such as Interpol and Europol, and here European can teach Americans about counter terrorism.

    Second, when one reads the Schuman Declaration, one can get the sense that the goal is also an independent European security system that is made by and for Europeans. I am glad to see that there is now permanent structured cooperation in the area of ESDP, as in Article 27(6) of the Lisbon Treaty, now inching forward. The ultimate goal of ESDP should be to operate independently from NATO and not be dependent on American assets, such as in airlift, in order to be effective in European defense. A major step was the European defense industry and another major step is the creation of an independent European organizational structure. The decision of when and how to use European Member States’ military assets should always be voluntary on the part of Member States and decisions remain with the Council and its Political and Security Committee. In the ESS, (independent) military power is one of many other instruments that the Union can use – and it should always be of last resort.

    The building of European security has nothing to do with counter-balancing the US, but is a very important part of the European project. Remember that “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan,” and fulfillment of the spirit of the Schuman Declaration requires a European security system, including military, that is by and for Europeans.


Your comments


Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom