Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | Seminar

European defence cooperation in a time of renewed military activity

  • Col. Gert Dobben, Head of Division at the Logistics Directorate of the EU Military Staff in Brussels
Friday 17 November 2023
European Union Seminar Series
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

European defence cooperation has a rocky past: though it was always part of the European integration efforts, it saw little institutional integration within the EU, partly due to reluctance to duplicate existing structures under NATO, and partly due to the member states’ wariness of deeper integration. The recent years have, however, seen ever louder calls to strengthen EU’s defence capabilities as a way of bolstering its ‘strategic autonomy’ amidst a shifting geostrategic landscape. In 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought military threat to the EU’s own borders and prompted a flurry of initiatives aimed at reinforcing the European defence structures. Recent initiatives include the European Defence Fund (2017), the European Peace Facility (2021) and the development of an EU-wide Strategic Compass (2022), complete with plans for own rapid-deployment force.  

In this talk, Colonel Gert Dobben talks about the practical side of some of these initiatives using the example of military mobility, the evolving cooperation between EU and NATO structures, the impact of the war, and the reality of being a soldier in the EU. 

About the speaker

Colonel Gert Dobben is Head of Division at the Logistics Directorate of the EU Military Staff in Brussels. In his position, he is responsible for a variety of tasks related to military engineering/infrastructure, military medical advice, climate change & energy saving but with a focus on Military Mobility. Throughout his military career he commanded army logistic units and held several posts as a senior officer in the field of national security, military logistics and international cooperation. He served in missions in Bosnia and Afghanistan and he commanded the Defence Movement & Transport Organisation before joining the EU Military Staff. 

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