The European Union on March 21 announced plans to lower barriers for moving military equipment and troops across Europe.
The 28-member EU has sought to better integrate defence capabilities and capacities with a vision towards creating a European Defence Union by 2025 and meeting NATO priorities for swift military movements, namely the European Readiness Initiative aimed at aggressing Russia.
The European Commission proposal calls for identifying rail and road routes suitable for military transport and upgrading existing infrastructure, for example by ensuring the height and weight capacity of bridges can handle tanks and heavy military equipment.
Another part of the proposal is aimed at streamlining border checks to speed up the transport of military hardware, dangerous goods and personnel across borders.
“By facilitating military mobility within the EU, we can be more effective in preventing crises, more efficient in deploying our missions, and quicker in reacting when challenges arise,” said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said the objective is to make sure military needs are taken into consideration when developing infrastructure projects.
“This means a more efficient use of public money and a better-equipped transport network, ensuring a quick and seamless mobility across the continent. This is a matter of collective security,” she said.
The European Commission plan must now be approved by EU governments and reviewed by the European Parliament. The first part of the action plan is expected to be carried out in the coming months and a first progress report delivered in summer 2019.
A confidential NATO report last year questioned the alliance’s ability to defend against a Russian attack, citing a smaller command structure since the end of the Cold War and logistical difficulties on the alliance’s eastern flank.
The European Commission said the action plan compliments rather than competes with NATO.