The elements necessary for the realisation of a genuine European defence understood in the sense of EU defence, by the EU and for the EU are, in theory, easy to name. But moving from theory to practice is a formidable exercise, as it involves choices, and thus renouncements that many find unsustainable, despite the war in Ukraine.
The equation of European defence, understood in the sense of the defence of the European Union by the European Union and for the European Union, is simple to write. It has not changed since Saint-Malo’s statement of 4 December 1998 between British and French: In order “to play its full role on the international stage (…) the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them and the willingness to do so in order to respond to international crises.” This can be summarised as a multiplication: European Defence (ED) = Political Will (PW) x Ability to decide (AD) x Capacity for Autonomous Action (CA), i.e.: ED = PW x AD x CA
If only one of these elements is zero, the product of this equation will also be zero. It is therefore imperative to bring them together at the same time since it would serve nothing to have an autonomous capacity to act without the will to use it or the means to decide on its employment.