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Research Report

Enabling the future: European military capabilities 2013-2025: challenges and avenues

Antonio Missiroli
James Rogers
Andrea Gilli
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2013
Pages: 73
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-4)
    Antonio Missiroli

    There are known knowns – things we know that we know. There are known unknowns – that is to say, things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – things we don’t know we don’t know. (Donald Rumsfeld, 2002)

    In late July 2012 the Chairman of the EU Military Committee (CEUMC) contacted the EUISS to explore possible avenues of cooperation in the light of (and the runup to) the European Council meeting on defence planned for late 2013. Following an informal exchange over summer, the Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) meeting of 31 October invited ‘the...

  2. (pp. 9-15)

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones. (John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936)

    Contrary to current conventional wisdom and media reports, the European Union as a whole still is, de facto, the world’s second strongest military ‘power’, encompassing two nuclear powers, highly effective conventional medium powers, and several smaller states with substantial military capabilities of their own. Thus, the Union has the capacity to be a leading military player in world affairs since – after but along with the US – its member states maintain...

  3. (pp. 16-24)

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. (George Orwell, London Letter, 1945)

    It is often said that a week is a long time in politics. The twelve years to 2025 may therefore seem like an eternity. In the previous twelve years a plethora of world-changing events have occurred. Indeed, any such period of time is almost always marked by transformational events. 1980-1992 witnessed several major conflicts, from the...

  4. (pp. 25-31)

    Scenario planning is not about predicting the future or revealing what the world will be like in ten, twelve or twenty years’ time. After all, it only takes a handful of unforeseen political, economic or environmental events – the ‘black swans’ that have become ever more frequent lately - to change even the best reasoned and most seasoned strategies. Rather, the purpose of scenario planning is to help live with uncertainty and respond more effectively and resiliently to what might happen in the future.

    Consequently, what follows is not a comprehensive list of potential threatening situations whereby Europeans might be...

  5. (pp. 32-51)

    The scenarios developed in Chapter III illustrate the possible situations, and related threats, in and against which European countries may need to use military power in the near future. Assuming that Europeans would actually like to respond (in whatever format) to any of these scenarios, they will need to generate detailed plans for each theoretical mission. Operational planning is beyond the means, scope and timescale of this Report, which nonetheless assumes that large-scale conventional threats to the European homeland will remain unlikely for the foreseeable future. Given that many of the threats and challenges to European strategic interests are likely...

  6. (pp. 52-58)

    The five avenues described in Chapter IV are neither rigidly separated from one another nor mutually exclusive. They simply illustrate distinct functional as well as political logics and methods to address a number of well-known problems affecting European military capabilities. And they can even be considered as potentially cumulative over time. Yet they all beg the question – albeit to different degrees – of whether (and, if so, to what extent) they may dent national ‘sovereignty’. Trying to answer this question requires clarifying what ‘sovereignty’ may mean. If it is meant to entail a high degree of strategic autonomy and...