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Working Document
Working document relating to point 5 of the agenda: Presidency non-paper - Promoting the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)

Date of release : 11-03-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : Informal Meeting of Defence Ministers

Contrary to the single market and the single currency whose virtues were promoted in large advertising campaigns and an unprecedented media hype, the ESDP, still young, is evolving at great discretion partly unnoticed by the national parliaments and especially the general public.  In order to better promote the ESDP the political decision makers should contribute to an improved and enhanced communication strategy.

The current atmosphere is favourable and recent polls and surveys show that a big majority of Europeans (71%) would like to see the EU become an important power in the same vein as the United States, but the enthusiasm falls by half when one explains that this would imply an increased level of military expenditure.  The ambition of a European power to compete with the United States is motivated by only 30% of the Europeans; 63 % of the Europeans think, on the contrary, that a stronger Europe could cooperate more efficiently with the United States.  50% of Europeans wish a more independent EU foreign and security policy.  If Europeans and Americans perceive the threats that they face in a similar way, placing terrorism and religious fundamentalism at the forefront of their security concerns, only 28% of the Europeans (54% of the Americans) approve military force as the best way to preserve peace.  More Americans than Europeans are ready to resort to power to prevent a terrorist attack, to put an end to nuclear proliferation, to defend a NATO ally and to change a political regime which violates human rights.  On the other hand, more Europeans than Americans would resort to force to respond to humanitarian disasters, to put an end to civil wars or to contribute to peacekeeping missions. 

The ESDP has become part of everyday life and it is important to underline its indispensability in a globalized world becoming more and more dangerous.  To achieve the goal of an improved and enhanced communication strategy, there is no secret : explain, popularize, envelop it in common language at the same time as debating its objectives and concepts in order to spread it among the public.  In most of the European societies, where armed conflicts have a bad reputation and where the horrors of war are still profoundly anchored, speaking about security and defence often awakens suspicion and provokes a sense of unease which it is difficult to get rid of.  Nonetheless, stereotypes and misleading sentiments tend to stay on for ever.  Therefore, in order to convince, the European Union and the Member States have to become even more active and have to develop a true communication strategy on ESDP.  The objective of this strategy should be to rally public opinion around a policy and to legitimate the ESDP by a strong parliamentary and popular support. This support is only possible if those, in charge of implementing the ESDP, will prove to have stamina and teaching skills.

At their informal meeting, the Ministers of Defence could have an exchange of views on this subject.  The debate should focus on subjects such as the development of master and key messages on ESDP that could comprise:

  • the recall of the fundamental values (freedom, rule of law, human rights) at the base of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) which includes the ESDP ;
  • the clear description of the threats and dangers, including terrorism, without developing a general feeling of insecurity that would be unjustified ;
  • the achievements already fulfilled by the ESDP (military, humanitarian and civilian operations and missions) which have contributed to stabilize the political situation in Europe and beyond ;
  • the link to national security and defence policies explaining the need to strengthen military capabilities and to continue budgetary efforts.

Furthermore the discussion should explore the instruments, ways and means best used to spread master and key messages.

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This page was last modified on : 11-03-2005

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