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Defence and external security: Court of Auditors, “recent EU plans entail performance risks”

“Member States’ current military capabilities and cooperation do not match the new level of ambition of the EU’s defence policy”. This is according to the European Court of Auditors that for the first time has published its “Review” of defence-related issues. “The significant and rapid increase in funding to support” the EU’s new goals and initiatives “entails performance risks”, the Review reads with reference to the sharp increase in the EU budget for defence and external security proposed by the Juncker Commission: €22.5 billion for the 2021-2027 period compared to €2.8 billion for the 2014-2020 period. According to the Court, there is a “risk that proper control systems may not be in place to accommodate such an increase in EU spending”. Moreover, there are “clear strategic differences across EU Member States”, “different rules of engagement and a wide range of views on the use of military force”. In this context, some concepts (such as “strategic autonomy” or “a European army”) remain “broad and vague”, the Court noted. “Defence involves creating real military capabilities, with a clear potential to deter possible threats and implies readiness to act when required”, said Juhan Parts, responsible for the Review. “In the absence of critical success factors and without specifying clear goals, there is a risk that current EU defence initiatives remain a dead letter and end up with no outcome”.

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