Strategic Compass: Rapid deployment capacity to protect EU citizens, interests and values

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


  • EU to develop a Rapid Deployment Capacity (RDC) 
  • It should be designed to reflect the new geopolitical context and have at least 5000 troops 
  • Expenditure of the RDC should be financed by the EU budget, provided it is increased 

The Foreign Affairs Committee adopted on Thursday a series of proposals on the new European Rapid Deployment Capability, to be deployed in the event of a crisis.

In a draft resolution adopted by the Committee on Foreign Affairs by 43 votes in favour, 2 against and 0 abstentions, MEPs support the proposal of establishing the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity (EU RDC). This would equip the EU with the capacity and structures to act effectively, respond rapidly and decisively to prevent and manage crises to serve and protect the European Union’s citizens, interests, principles and values across the world.

The RDC should be designed to reflect the new geopolitical context and reach full operational capability by 2025 at the latest, MEPs add.

MEPs propose the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity missions to cover rescue and evacuation operations, entry and the initial phase of stabilisation operations as well as temporary reinforcement of other missions. The RDC could also be used as a reserve force to secure an exit when needed. The tasks should be flexible in order to be prepared to address all possible crisis situations, they add.

Strategic autonomy

The EU RDC should have at least 5000 troops, in addition to the strategic support capabilities required for its operation, e.g. transport personnel, intelligence, satellite communication and strategic reconnaissance assets, special operations forces, medical care and evacuation units. All troops of the EU RDC should be assigned exclusively to it, with member states able to call them for national duty in the event of an emergency.

MEPs insist on the necessity to conduct regular joint exercises, in line with NATO standards, that should be scheduled by the EU Foreign Policy Chief, and planned and conducted by the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), to improve readiness and interoperability.

They also stressed that for this rapid deployment capability to be effective, it should have permanent operational headquarters with appropriate funding, staff and infrastructure and an integrated secure communication.

Budgetary aspects

The administrative expenditure of the RDC should be financed from the EU budget, provided that the CFSP budget is increased considerably, MEPs say.

The operating expenditure for joint exercises for fully operational capability certification, the costs of ammunition and those related to carrying out live exercises, should be paid from a revised European Peace Facility with an increased budget.

Finally, MEPs call on member states to provide adequate funds and personnel to turn the EU battle group system into a more robust and flexible instrument.

Quote

Rapporteur Javi López (S&D, ES) said: “With this report, we express our full support for what will be a significant improvement in our security and defence policy instruments: the Rapid Deployment Capacity, proposed by the High Representative and enshrined in the Strategic Compass already adopted by the EU Member States.

Our goal is to have a capacity of at least 5000 troops ready to be deployed swiftly when there is a crisis with the aim of performing rescue and evacuation tasks, operations of initial entry and stabilization, or temporary reinforcements of other missions.

This will allow us not only to be a stronger ally within our EU-NATO cooperation framework, but it will also be an important step towards our strategic autonomy and to becoming a real and credible geopolitical actor in an ever-competing world”.

Background and next steps

The resolution will be voted on by the Parliament as a whole in one of the next plenary sessions.

The EU Strategic Compass (approved by the Council in March 2022) called for the creation of a European Rapid Deployment Capacity that would allow the EU to send up to 5000 troops to the field in the event of a crisis.

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