Through a winding journey European industrial cooperation developed the 4th generation Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet in the early 2000s (Heinrich, 2015). European countries, however, eventually missed an opportunity with the following generation, relying instead on the American-made F-35 Lightning II. Therefore, European states are now eager to make up for lost ground by developing a 6th generation fighter jet. Two parallel projects are underway. Firstly, France, Germany and Spain are jointly working on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a programme intended to develop a Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) with a Next Generation Fighter (NGF) at its core. Second, Japan recently joined the UK and Italy in developing the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), a follow-up of the Tempest project similarly intended to deliver a 6th generation fighter.
Approximately 100,000 people died in the 1992-1995 three-way war between the Orthodox Serbs, the Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina (The Economist, 2019). The Western-brokered Dayton Accords ultimately ended the fighting by dividing the country into two entities: the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation, where Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats share power (The Economist, 2022). The constitution adopted after the war thus implemented territorial separation along ethnic lines (Bojicic-Dzelilovic, 2015, p. 1). There is a risk, however, that these ethnic lines become borders. This Info Flash explores the European Union (EU) as a security actor in the region with regard to recent secessionist threats from Republika Srpska.
On 9 December 2022, Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and then one of the institution’s fourteen Vice Presidents, was arrested in possession of €150,000 in cash (Malingre & Stroobants, 2023). Kaili was subsequently charged with corruption, expelled from the Socialists & Democrats group in the European Parliament and suspended in her role of Vice President (Stamouli, 2022). The charges brought against Kaili were partly the result of a broader investigation into Qatari, Moroccan and Mauritanian influence over European officials in which €1.5m was seized and four individuals were charged with corruption (Matriche et al., 2022). This scandal raised awareness on the issue of corruption and rendered evident that its presence remains a reality. European officials have started to pay increasing attention to the issue since then and are proposing tougher measures to counter corruption. At a time when the European defence industry is booming, it is crucial to be wary of the risks of corruption that this entails.
Right-wing populists are increasingly competing for government participation, occasionally with success. Austria, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Italy and Poland are just a few examples of European Union (EU) Member States that have seen populist parties as part of the governing coalition in recent years (Destradi et al., 2021, p. 663). While this kind of politics often seems far from military operations and their technical nature, they determine the resources and attention given to them. Populists often find other priorities than multilateral defence cooperation (Ivaldi & Zankina, 2023). This is particularly concerning at a time when European security is under threat. Less military support for Ukraine may, for example, directly affect the security situation in the rest of Europe. This Info Flash will investigate the impact of right-wing populism in EU Member States on defence and security matters, particularly on interoperability. To achieve this, I will first analyse the existing literature on defence populism. After that, these findings will be synthesised, tying them to EU security policies and the interoperability of land forces. At last, concluding remarks shall be made.
In the unstable world we live in, military mobility becomes a paramount condition for states to maintain domestic, regional and international security. In the European Union’s case, it enables Member States’ armed forces to respond to crises breaking out at the external borders or beyond; bolsters transport infrastructure’s efficiency; avoids delays in cross-border military transits (displacement of personnel, materiel and assets) in and outside the EU territory; and ensures the alignment of efforts with partners like NATO by increasing inter-state policy synergies.