December 5, 2017

Poland, the European Union and the Brexit

On 5-6 December 2017, Ambassador (ret) Pauli Järvenpää, Senior Research Fellow at the ICDS, attended a conference arranged by the Polish Ministry of National Defence at the Military Studies University in Warsaw, Poland.

Dr. Järvenpää was invited to attend a panel on the military aspects of Brexit for Poland and other northern European countries.

In his remarks, Dr. Järvenpää emphasized that on top of serious external challenges both the EU members and the NATO allies have been plagued by internal challenges that can become fundamental problems if not treated in a timely fashion. With these challenges, accentuated by the British decision to leave the Union, the EU has truly entered an uncharted territory. The Baltic States and Poland, as well as the Nordic EU members, have tended to rely on British judgment in military and defence matters, but now that the UK is leaving the Union, it is all the more important for these countries to make sure that the links to the UK, although outside of the Union, can be kept strong.

What can be done? First, these countries should make sure that they maintain and develop mechanisms and procedures for continuing shared strategic and situational awareness. Secure lines of communication are a concrete example. Second, they should explore possibilities to strengthen their resilience measures. Resilience is a national responsibility, but with the Brexit happening, growing attention should be paid to the countries in the Baltic Sea region and the UK building up their resilience measures together. And third, these countries should develop a coordinated response to hybrid threat scenarios. These are just a few ways of softening the negative impact of Brexit, and they should be developed as soon as possible.