The European Union: European Sky Shield Initiative

Tuesday, 12 September 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Editorial, EU blog post series, European Union
Reading Time:  3 minutes

Flag_of_Europe European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) is a project to build a ground-based integrated European air defense system which includes anti-ballistic missile capability. As of July 2023, nineteen European states participate in the initiative. ESSI is part of the Common Security and Defense Policy and as such is designed to complement and relieve the burden on NATO.

The initiative was originally proposed by the Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz in August 2022. The proposal was made during the 2022–2023 Russian strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure and amid increased concerns about the limited European capability to defend against such threats as the Russian 9K720 Iskander ballistic missile systems deployed in Kaliningrad. In October 2022, fifteen European states (Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, the United Kingdom) signed a declaration to join the German-led initiative. It would involve joint procurement of the air defense systems. All founding states are also members of NATO (with Finland joining the alliance in 2023), and the initiative also aims to strengthen the NATO Integrated Air Defense System.

Dark green: Founding members 2022; Light green: Enlargement 2023 © Derkoenig/cc-by-sa-4.0

Dark green: Founding members 2022; Light green: Enlargement 2023 © Derkoenig/cc-by-sa-4.0

In February 2023, Denmark and Sweden joined the project. In July 2023, neutral states Austria and Switzerland signed the declaration to join the initiative, raising questions about the future and practicalities of their policy of neutrality.

France, on the other hand, has been challenging the initiative, citing too much reliance in German plans on equipment and technology produced outside Europe. It was suggested that the French government is dissatisfied that the French-Italian SAMP-T system is excluded from ESSI. In June 2023, France made a counter-proposal and has been calling for other countries to examine the alternatives. As of July 2023, several major European states, namely France, Italy, Spain and Poland did not make a decision to join the ESSI.

Read more on NATO, 13 October 2022: 14 NATO Allies and Finland agree to boost European air defence capabilities, defense-aerospace.com, 11 July 2023: German Defense Ministry Details European Sky Shield Initiative: European Sky Shield Initiative at a Glance, Wikipedia NATO missile defense system, Wikipedia United States national missile defense, Wikipedia Strategic Defense Initiative, Wikipedia Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and Wikipedia European Sky Shield Initiative (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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