The EU’s security policy in the wake of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine was the topic of the final panel on the first day of the 2BS Forum. Panel participants agree that our security largely depends on NATO, while the EU, on the other hand, cannot provide such security guarantees.
Emil Brix, Director of the Vienna School of International Studies, stated that the German Chancellor made a good decision when he called this moment in Russia’s aggression in Ukraine a turning point. However, Brix believes that more commitment from the EU is needed.
We now see solidarity through the community of 27 member states, and we have 11 aid packages, which is our moral obligation. This is an important duty, part of what we need, but more is needed. Member states approach the war differently. A good example is Hungary, but it is not the only example. However, it is a NATO member and does not fully support our efforts towards Russia. That is not a good sign. Our security response gives the impression that the glass is half full and half empty. Sweden and Finland have not decided to become NATO members by chance; they have decided this because they do not want to rely on the EU for security. NATO is the only actor dealing with security issues in Europe, said Brix.
Brix believes that our security largely depends on NATO, while the EU is not in a position to provide similar security guarantees, as the alliance can.
Iulian Chifu the president of the Center for Conflicts Prevention and Early Warning, said that some European countries did not expect the war to start in Ukraine.
We were aware of foreign plans for an invasion, but this also happened during the annexation of Crimea. Everything was happening in that southern region, which is linked to Russia’s belief that they need access to warm waters and a direct connection to the Mediterranean. What happens in the Black Sea affects the EU and security as a whole, Chifu said.
Chifu believes that there has been a dramatic change in German policy during the term of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
It didn’t happen overnight. We all knew that a war would come. Some countries didn’t believe it. Scholz formed a group that drafted this option even though he didn’t believe that a war would occur. Three or four days before the start of the war, he said it was just pressure, that they wanted to gain something from Ukraine, Chifu said.
He emphasized the importance of the decision that NATO allies, as they promised, will increase defense spending.
If we consider that an intense war may begin, that means we need to prepare for these events, to see if our professional army is helping, if not, to switch to a regular military service system, Chifu said, adding that the level of cooperation between NATO, the EU, G7 countries, and the democratic community supporting change is crucial.
We must not allow Ukraine to lose this war, Chifu concluded, adding that we have seen how difficult it is to reclaim territories once they are occupied.
Nicole Koenig, Head of Policy of Munich Security Conference, agrees that in the case of European security, the glass is both half full and half empty.
Koenig points out that some significant changes have occurred, but there are still not enough for such a crucial moment.
The first change is increased defense spending. Twenty-four countries have announced increases. If these promises are fulfilled, it will have a significantly positive impact on security, Koenig said. Regarding cooperation among allies, she reminded that within the EU, there is a unique program to support Ukraine, where 5.6 billion euros have been invested so far.
Koenig emphasized the need to provide short-term assistance to Ukraine while also fulfilling the promise of increased spending in the long term. She called on the EU to gradually integrate Ukraine into its initiatives.