The EU’s new goal of creating a so-called initial entry force for rapid expeditionary deployment to regions in crisis sounds good on paper but is fraught with thorny political, financial, and pragmatic problems that the 27 EU countries must resolve if the force is to see the light of day.
An EU diplomatic source told Janes on 10 May, “A ready-to-go insertion force would mean 24/7 standby troops and assets, which is expensive. Who would pay for that and what about strategic transport for standby? Europe doesn’t have enough for non-standby. It’s a long-term capability issue and they’re talking about a rapid reaction force in the foreseeable future?”
Proposed by 14 countries during a 6 May meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels, the idea calls for a 5,000-strong force of land, air, and possibly maritime elements that would train and exercise together for deployment to crisis points in Africa and elsewhere. It could be approved as early as March 2022, Josep Borrell, the EU’s security and defence policy chief, told reporters after the meeting.
However, he also acknowledged that, for such a force to be effective, the EU “must react and take decisions faster…on how to launch missions and operations”.
That admission points to the three obstacles that hinder rapid military interventions by the EU: inadequate force generation, cost-sharing among the member states, and unanimous voting within the EU Council, which directly represents national governments.