A leaked German defence document has revealed the country’s long-term concerns over the stability of the European Union and depicts a possible future of surging extremism and terrorist activity.
The Bundeswehr (German military) document, published by Der Spiegel newspaper, outlines six plausible scenarios the German state may have to deal with by 2040.
The 120-page paper, titled Strategic Perspective 2040, predicts outcomes including the collapse of the EU, the disintegration of “the West”, divisions in Europe where some countries become increasingly allied to Russia, an increase in US isolationism, and China increasingly engaged in a cultural standoff with the Western world.
For the first time in its history, the Bundeswehr’s 102-page document shows how social trends and international conflicts could influence German security policy in the coming decades. (Read the whole story in the new SPIEGEL here .)
The study sets the framework in which the Bundeswehr of the future is likely to move. Concrete conclusions for equipment and strength, the paper does not yet.
It also outlines other perceived threats to Germany, including disease epidemics, “drone swarms”, miniature nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and decreased national loyalties.
In one of the six scenarios (“The EU in Disintegration and Germany in Reactive Mode”), the authors assume a “multiple confrontation”. The future projection describes a world in which the international order erodes after “decades of instability”, the value systems worldwide diverge and globalization is stopped.
“The EU enlargement has been largely abandoned, other states have left the community Europe has lost its global competitiveness,” write the Bundeswehr strategists: “The increasingly disorderly, sometimes chaotic and conflict-prone world has dramatically changed the security environment of Germany and Europe.”
West versus East
In another scenario named West versus East, a part of EU member states in the East freeze their integration, others join the Eastern bloc. In the “Multipolar competition” scenario there is talk of a new wave of extremism and attempts by some EU partners to follow the Russian political model. The document does not deal in forecasts.
West to the East addresses concerns over a potential splitting off of the eastern European member states saying they could halt EU integration and said that other countries could follow and join the new “Eastern Bloc”.
The report also notes that “extremism” could increase over time.
Both far-right and far-left extremism has increased in the aftermath of the migrant crisis with far-right plots uncovered in France targeting politicians and a massive surge of left-wing radicalism and violence that saw hundreds of police officers injured at the recent Hamburg G20 summit not to mention the ongoing ‘Gilets jaunes’ yellow jacket protest.
The experts stress that all possible scenarios are possible and worth considering. The Bundeswehr planning service assisted in writing about them. Little room for optimism, but the future may not be catastrophic.
After all few believed several years ago that what was really the Conservative Party’s internal struggle between two camps (those supporting EU membership and those seeking to exit) would turn into Brexit.
Few believed that British domestic discussions on their membership in the EU could turn into Brexit, thus the current debates on the EU’s future scenarios lead to little optimism as well but here we are today little more than 50 days away from leaving the EU.
Putting things into perspective Yellowhammer is yet another example of Project Fear
Yes, you read it correctly this is how governments work they create scenarios so they can plan on how best to cope with them if and when they occur.
It is more than prudent for Governments and their institutes to create papers on scenarios it gives an heads up on what could happen and allows for the said institutes to pre plan bringing in that aged old saying “Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance.” as opposed to “Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”
The Government’s yellowhammer report on planning assumptions for Brexit will go down in history as a key document in the struggle to achieve Brexit. Farcically it is not a statement of government policy and probably does not reflect the views of government. It is rather a piece of civil service advice, commissioned by we know not who, and compiled we know not where.
What is most striking is the almost complete absence of evidence in the document. What these ‘worst-case’ planning assumptions are based on is not vouchsafed to us. The title ‘HMG Reasonable Worst-Case Planning Assumptions’ does not make it clear whether these assumptions are proposals or have been adopted by government. The fact that the government intends to issue a new document suggests the former, but we are left in the dark.
It is not even clear whether the title refers only to the opening section of the paper or to the entire document. Nor is there any clarity on what is meant by ‘worst-case’. The document is silent on whether these are unlikely events for which any responsible government has to prepare.
The government presumably has plans for dealing with all sorts of unlikely events including asteroid strikes, hurricanes or tsunamis. An earlier version of the document leaked to the Sunday Times suggests that the assumptions were more central than worst-case, but none of this is clear in the version published yesterday.
Yellowhammer is full of ‘woulds’ and ‘coulds’ but also contains some more confident predictions that things ‘will’ happen. The latter include a confident prediction that companies’ preparedness for no deal on October 31st will deteriorate between now and then. This is simply unknowable and can obviously be countered by official awareness campaigns, but there is no mention of this.
It was my job to run Customs terminal at the point of Dover
The man who used to run the Customs terminal at the Port of Dover told Iain Dale that the reports of huge delays following a no-deal Brexit are very wide of the mark.
Robert called in to LBC after hearing a caller warn of chaos at the borders if the UK leaves the EU without any agreement.
And he insisted that if there are any issues, they will be on the Calais side, not the Dover one.
Speaking about reports of food shortages, he said: “I think you’re going to have to go out of your way to be delayed. A consignment from Europe has a document which is then lodged at the port.
“It will then arrive in Dover in transit, exactly like it is today. Your first import declaration in a no-deal Brexit environment is due at the end of six months. You’ve got six months to do the import entry.
“In a no-deal plan, the only thing that’s going to have any difference from today is the EU exporter needs to raise an export declaration. That’s the end of Brexit no-deal planning.”
Iain asked why we hear so many stories of food shortages and traffic jams in Kent if everything is so simple. Robert responded: “If there are any problems with motorways in Kent, it will be getting out again.
“But the government have literally today released a project which I’ve been working on for quite a few months, which is 150 pop-up stations and truck parks across the UK and Europe, where drivers can call in and have their paperwork checked so that they can approach the border knowing everything is in place.
“These will be all over the UK, so the message is don’t come into Kent unless you are border-ready.”
He admits that exports will still be a problem, adding: “Export requires an export guarantee in transit. That is still an issue as the liability that is attached to transit is a major risk.
There will be a shortage of cheddar in Carrefore, but there won’t be a shortage of Brie in Tesco.
“Right now there aren’t enough transit bond holders, but we’re working hard to try to fix that and underwrite the guarantee. At the moment, you don’t want to raise a document for fifty quid, but with a liability that can shut your company down. That is an issue.”
Robert added that the main issues in a no-deal Brexit will be felt in Europe, saying: “There will be a shortage of cheddar in Carrefore, but there won’t be a shortage of Brie in Tesco.”
All of these apocalyptic scenarios have of course been enthusiastically broadcast by the press and media, but what do they really amount to? Apparently if UK logistics firms transporting to the Continent find themselves unable to deal with French customs forms for six months or more, and HMG finds itself quite unable to deal with this unlikely situation in any practical manner, queues will build up at Dover and perhaps at other roll-on/ roll-off ports. Well yes indeed. However, the report does quietly admit that other ports are prepared.
It does not point out that Dover is only the UK’s ninth largest port, handling only 5 per cent of the UK’s overall tonnage. Nor is there any speculation on how hauliers may switch to other routes to avoid congestion at Calais (which is precisely what the Calais port authorities fear). There is also no mention of precautions already taken by foreign producers who will wish to protect their UK markets.
The report is yet another horrendous example of Project Fear, whether intentional or not. It conjures up a series of lurid scenarios which are both unlikely to happen and if they did could be managed with straightforward control measures. No account is taken of firms taking elementary precautions to protect their markets and profits. It is not even comprehensive. No mention is made of just-in-time manufacturers or of the need to cull cows in Northern Ireland. In short, this is a poor-quality report written in a way that would obviously cause maximum unease. We should ignore it.