“The world is playing with fire”
, warns Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. "Europeans need to take responsibility for their own defence”
, she says, concerned that unless Europe wakes up to its global position, “we could sleepwalk into a conflict”
The last security strategy signed off by the EU member states was Javier Solana’s 2003 policy, but it is no longer relevant in an ever-changing global climate. Federica Mogherini is the youngest European commissioner, and she is trying to turn “a constant state of crisis”
into an opportunity for change with her innovative defence strategy. Issues of migration, terrorism, cyberwarfare, and the instability of the European Union all factor into Mogherini’s complex, puzzle-like strategy, which demands an historic shift in European security and defence cooperation. And she is moving fast, with more decisions being made on EU defence in recent months than in the last sixty years.
Her aim is to ensure peace and work in cooperation with neighbouring countries like Libya to prevent conflict and crime at the source. “I’d rather be accused of looking for dialogue and common ground too much, rather than risking a very dangerous reaction”
, says Mogherini. Her plan includes Operation Sophia, the first EU navy fleet sent to disrupt trafficking networks and save lives in the Mediterranean Sea, where 17,000 migrants died between 2011 and 2017. The EUCAP Sahel mission is also an important piece in her defence puzzle, aiming to support the development of economic infrastructure and law enforcement in Niger.
Europe has been too slow to act in the past, and has failed to make proactive decisions, which allowed current threats like ISIS - “a problem of our own creation”
- to grow. This means that “Europe’s greatest challenge today is the way Europeans perceive themselves on the global stage”
. For too long, Europeans have relied on a sense of security they take for granted, and they must now act to protect themselves in a world where “change is the only constant”