Tech & Rights

Do We Want Another World War? The EU Activates Its 'Mutual Defense Clause'

For the first time in EU history, European defense ministers unanimously decided to activate the "mutual defense clause" of the EU treaty.

by Danela Žagar
Image: European Parliament - Flickr/CC content
Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) has warned that the declaration of war will not lead to the improvement of the European common system of fighting terrorism.

EU member states agreed to grant military assistance to France following the terror attacks in Paris, activating the 'mutual defense clause' in a meeting at the end of November.

French president Francois Hollande invoked the clause - Article 42.7 of the EU treaty - which obliges member states to give full support in the event of an attack:

"If a member state is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other member states shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power."

Intervene only to protect

The fact that the world is at war with terrorism for 14 years (with the US at the forefront) has today resulted in the creation of even grimmer terrorist groups than Al Qaeda, for example ISIL and Boko Haram, which have become paramilitary and parastatal organizations.

Additionally, activation of the provision on mutual defense creates an international precedent of interpreting an attack by organized terrorist groups as an attack by a formal state, which gives ISIL unwanted and unnecessary state legitimacy.

CMS reiterates that any military intervention in Syria should have the exclusive goal of protecting the local population from the violence of ISIL, and it should be carried out by the UN Security Council.

This way, the action would have international legitimacy and would ensure the cooperation of all Council member states who are – with their obvious particular interests – currently involved in the war in Syria.

Fight terrorism at its cause

Combating terrorism should be initiated through other mechanisms, for instance Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which regulates the situation of a terrorist attack against a member state (like recently in Paris).

This would secure cooperation between the security apparatuses of member states - which failed to stop recent attacks - and ensure a globally effective blockade of financing ISIL by the states which are alleged allies of Western European countries and United States.

The last 14 years of war against terrorism has taught us that terrorism can be effectively stopped only by removing its causes. Emotional declarations of war represent not only a threat for the people who are running from terrorism and European citizens, but are exactly the kind of response terrorists want to see.

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