Europe is facing an increasingly dangerous mix of security threats. The deterioration of the conflict in Syria, widespread turmoil across the Middle East and North Africa and Russia’s renewed military activism are creating instability at European external borders.
These international threats, together with the internal menace of terrorism, generate fear and uncertainty in EU Member States. Throughout the continent, the shortcomings of the insufficient level of cooperation on intelligence, police, justice and defence are becoming more and more evident to public opinion.
In the last months, two main events gave new impetus to the process of European integration in the fields of defense and security. On the one hand, with the decision of Britain to invoke Article 50 on 29 March 2017, one of the largest defence spenders in the European Union is about to leave. Indeed, almost 25% of EU defence expenditure currently comes from the UK, and Britain has historically obstructed any moves towards a common EU military. On the other hand, US President Donald Trump repeatedly called into question the commitment of his country to NATO and this led Members States to start a discussion on the necessity of rethinking the pillars of our common security.
What is the way forward in the pursuit of a common European defense? Is it time for an EU common army? How, when and for what purpose should this army be used?
On Wednesday 17 May, we will ask Members of the European Parliament from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their position on these questions.
MEPs will be invited to the European Parliamentary Association to informally discuss with four leading experts on European security and defense. These are: MEP Michael Gahler, EPP Group Spokesperson on Security and Defence, MEP Eva Kaili, Chair of the EP Delegation for relations with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, MEP Klaus Buchner, Member of the subcommittee on Security and Defense and Brigadier General Franz Pfrengle of the EUROCORPS, former Mission Commander for the EU Training Mission in Mali.
Olivier Mirguet, correspondent of the French newspaper La Tribune (http://www.latribune.fr/), will moderate the debate.
Michael Gahler (Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands, EPP) is Member of the European Parliament since 1999. Previously, he served in the diplomatic service under ministers Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Klaus Kinkel and Joschka Fischer.
In the current legislature, Gahler is chair of the Delegation for relations with the Pan-African Parliament, member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, and of the Delegation for relations with South Africa. He is substitute in the Committee on Transport and Tourism and in the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
Gahler is EPP Group spokesperson on Security and Defence, chair of the Kangaroo Group and member of the European Parliament’s Sky and Space Intergroup.
He is also Vice-President of the European Parliamentary Association.
Eva Kaili (Panhellenic Socialist Movement – Olive Tree, S&D) seats in the European Parliament since 2014, where she is member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, of the Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion and chair of the Delegation for relations with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. She is also substitute in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, in the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, in the Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and in the Delegation for relations with the United States.
Previously, she has been member of the Hellenic Parliament for the first district of Thessaloniki since 2009. While holding this post, she has been, among other things, member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and Member of the Committee for National Defense and Foreign Affairs.
Klaus Buchner (Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance) is Member of the European Parliament since 2014. He is physicist and university professor and he has been chair of his party from 2003 to 2010.
As MEP, he is currently member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence and of the Delegation for relations with Iran.
Franz Xaver Pfrengle is Brigadier General at the EUROCORPS. Graduate engineer, he joined the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) in 1975. He has been Commander of the German Army Officer School (2008-2011), Chief of Staff Operations at the EUROCORPS (since 2015) and Mission Commander of the EU Training Mission in Mali (in 2015).
For more information about the organisation of the event, do not hesitate to contact our general secretariat.