Common Security and Defence Policy

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Common Security and Defence
Policy of the European Union
Coat of arms of the European Union Military Committee.svg Coat of arms of Europe.svg Coat of arms of the European Union Military Staff.svg
Arms of the Military Committee (l.) and its chairman (m.), as well as the Military Staff (r.)

Equipment 546 ships, 2,448 aircraft & 7,490 battle tanks (See national capabilities)
Founded 1996 (as the European Security and Defence Identity within the Western European Union)
Current form 2009 (upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon)
Headquarters Kortenberg building, Brussels, Belgium (Military Planning and Conduct Capability)
High Repr. Federica Mogherini
Director General of the Mil. Staff Lt. Gen Esa Pulkkinen
Chairman of the Mil. Committee General Michail Kostarakos
Active personnel 1,823,000 (2014)[1]
Budget $226.73 billion (2016)[1]
Percent of GDP 1.42% (2014)[1]

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is the part of the European Union's (EU) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) that relates to defence and crisis management, implemented by EU structures in CSDP missions drawing on civilian and military assets provided by member states. Based on articles 42–46 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)[2], the CSDP also entails a mutual defence clause amongst member states as well as a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in which 25 of the 28 national armed forces pursue structural integration.

Article 42.2 of TEU states that the CSDP includes the 'progressive framing' of a common Union defence policy, and will lead to a common defence, when the European Council of national heads of state or government, acting unanimously, so decides.

When participating in CSDP missions abroad for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the national armed forces may either act in an existing national force framework, as part of an intergovemental force made available to the CSDP through article 42.3 of TEU, such as the European Corps, or in EU Battlegroups.

The Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), currently Federica Mogherini, is responsible for proposing and implementing CSDP decisions. Such decisions are taken by the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), generally requiring unanimity.

The CSDP organisation, headed by the HR/VP, comprises relevant sections of the External Action Service (EEAS) - including the operational headquarters (MPCC) of the Military Staff (EUMS) - a number of FAC preparatory bodies - such as the Military Committee (EUMC) - as well as four Agencies, including the Defence Agency (EDA). Since 2017, the CSDP has also been facilitated by a defence fund and a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD).

The post-war period saw several short-lived or ill-fated initiatives for European defence integration intended to protect against potential Soviet or German aggression: The Western Union and the proposed European Defence Community were respectively cannibalised by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and rejected by the French Parliament. The largely dormant Western European Union (WEU) succeeded the Western Union's remainder in 1954. In 1970 the European Political Cooperation (EPC) brought about the European Communities' initial foreign policy coordination, which in turn was replaced by the newly founded EU's CFSP pillar in 1993. The WEU was reactivated in 1984 and given new tasks, and in 1996 NATO agreed to let it develop a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI).[3] The 1998 St. Malo declaration signalled that the traditionally hesitant United Kingdom was prepared to provide the EU with autonomous defence structures.[4] This facilitated the transformation of the ESDI into the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) in 1999, when it was transferred to the EU. In 2003 the EU deployed its first CSDP missions, and adopted the European Security Strategy identifying common threats and objectives. In 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon introduced the present name, CSDP, while establishing the EEAS, the mutual defence clause and enabling a subset of member states to pursue defence integration within PESCO. In 2011 the WEU, whose tasks had been transferred to the EU, was dissolved. In 2016 a new security strategy was introduced, which along with the Russian annexation of Crimea, the scheduled British withdrawal from the EU and the election of Trump as US President have given the CSDP a new impetus.

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
European Union


In force:
Maastricht Treaty (TEU)
Content: (est. alliance) (founded WU) (founded ECSC) (protocol amending WU to become WEU) (founded EEC and EURATOM) (merging the legislative & administrative bodies of the 3 European communities) (founded TREVI) (amended: EURATOM, ECSC, EEC)+
(founded EPC)
(founded Schengen)
(implemented Schengen)
(amended: EURATOM, ECSC, and EEC to transform it into EC)+
(founded: JHA+CFSP)
(amended: EURATOM, ECSC, EC to also contain Schengen, and TEU where PJCC replaced JHA) (amended with focus on institutional changes: EURATOM, ECSC, EC and TEU) (abolished the 3 pillars and WEU by amending: EURATOM, EC=>TFEU, and TEU)
(founded EU as an overall legal unit with Charter of Fundamental Rights, and reformed governance structures & decision procedures)
Three pillars of the European Union:  
European Communities
(with a single Commission & Council)
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)   
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC)   European Community (EC)
        Schengen Rules  
    Terrorism, Radicalism, Extremism and Violence Internationally (TREVI) Justice and Home Affairs
  Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
  European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Franco-British alliance Western Union (WU) Western European Union (WEU)    
Treaty terminated in 2011    

1945 – 1950: From Franco-British alliance to Western Union

On 4 March 1947 the Treaty of Dunkirk was signed by France and the United Kingdom as a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance in the event of a possible German attack in the aftermath of World War II. The treaty entered into force on 8 September 1947.

A donkey
Foreign ministers at the signing of the founding Treaty of Brussels
A trout
Flag of the union
In 1948 five European powers established the Western Union.

The Treaty of Dunkirk was transferred in 1948 to the military Article 4 of the Treaty of Brussels, which also included the Benelux countries. To reach the treaty goals the Western Union (WU) was set up in 1949, with an allied European command structure under British Field Marshal Montgomery.

1950 – 1952: NATO cannibalises the Western Union

Western European powers, except for Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Austria, signed in 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty alongside the United States and Canada which only created a passive defence association until 1951 when, during the Korean War, the defence structures of the existing and fully functioning Western Union was transferred to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

1952 – 1954: The European Defence Community fails

Since the end of World War II, West Germany had been occupied by Allied forces and lacked its own means of defense. On 23 July 1952, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) came into existence, bonding the member states economically. By 1951, fear of possible Soviet aggression in Europe led France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux – the Inner six of European integration – to propose a scheme that was similar in nature to the ECSC but concerned defence; the European Defense Community (EDC). The EDC would have consisted of a pan-European military divided into national components, with a common budget, common institutions, common arms and centralised procurement. At the time, this was favoured over admitting Germany to NATO. The General Treaty (German: Deutschlandvertrag) of 1952 formally named the EDC as a prerequisite of the end of Allied occupation of Germany. The EDC founding treaty did not enter into force, however, as it failed to obtain approval for ratification on 30 August 1954 in the French National Assembly where Gaullists feared for national sovereignty and Communists opposed a European military consolidation that could rival the Soviet Union.

1954 – 1970: A dormant WEU is established

The failure to establish the EDC resulted in the 1954 amendment of the Treaty of Brussels at the London and Paris Conferences which in replacement of EDC established the political Western European Union (WEU) out of the Western Union. While the WEU was not as broad or powerful as the previously proposed EDC, it was nevertheless sufficient for the Deutschlandvertrag to come into force and therefore to end the occupation of West Germany, give it full sovereignty and admit it as an ally in the Cold War, both in the WEU and NATO. Italy was also admitted in these organisations. From this point defence aims had shifted to the Soviet Union.

1970 – 1984: Initial foreign policy coordination

In the 1950s and 1960s, the EC member states tried twice to give the internal market a foreign policy dimension but failed on both attempts. Efforts to pursue such integration were impeded by concerns relating to national sovereignty as well as potential duplication of NATO's role.

In 1970 the European Political Cooperation (EPC) was introduced as an initial coordination of foreign policy within the EC. The involvement of the United Kingdom guaranteed its Atlanticist nature. Although the EPC was mainly intergovernmental, the European Commission would be able to express its opinion if matters within its competencies were concerned. The EPC was amended and strengthened in the so-called Copenhagen and London reports in 1973 and 1981, respectively, and codified (formalised) in 1986 with the Single European Act.

Although the EPC made the Europeean Communities an active player on the international scene during the 1970s, notably in the Middle East conflict and in the creation of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, it was considered a mixed success.

1984 – 1998: WEU reactivated, EU established

From the late 1970s onwards, efforts were made to add a security dimension to the EC's EPC. Opposition to these efforts from Denmark, Greece and Ireland led the remaining EC countries - all WEU members - to reactivate the WEU in 1984.[5]

Hotel Petersberg, where the Petersberg tasks were defined in 1992.
Flag of the Western European Union (1993–1995)

In 1992, the WEU adopted the Petersberg Declaration, defining the so-called Petersberg tasks designed to cope with the possible destabilising of Eastern Europe. The WEU itself had no standing army but depended on cooperation between its members. Its tasks ranged from the most modest to the most robust, and included Humanitarian, rescue and peacekeeping tasks as well as tasks for combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.[6]

Upon the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the European Union was established, consisting of three pillars, of which the first was the European Communities, one was the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) - a replacement of the European Communities' EPC - and the last was the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). The CFSP pillar became a natural basis for a further deepening of EU defence policy cooperation.

At the 1996 NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, it was agreed that the WEU would oversee the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within NATO structures.[7] The ESDI was intended as a European 'pillar' within NATO, partly to allow European countries to act militarily where NATO wished not to, and partly to alleviate the United States' financial burden of maintaining military bases in Europe, which it had done since the Cold War. The Berlin agreement allowed European countries (through the WEU) to use NATO assets if it so wished.

1998 – 2009: EU takes over WEU tasks, gains autonomous structures

In 1998 the United Kingdom, which had traditionally opposed the introduction of European autonomous defence capacities, signed the Saint-Malo declaration. This marked a turning point as the declaration endorsed the creation of a European security and defense policy, including a European military force capable of autonomous action.[8] The declaration was a response to the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, in which the EU was perceived to have failed to intervene to stop the conflict.[9]

Concerns were voiced that an independent European security pillar could undermine NATO; In response to St. Malo declaration, then US Secretary of State Albright put forth the three famous D's: no duplication of what was done effectively under NATO, no decoupling from the US and NATO, and no discrimination against non-EU members such as Turkey.

As a direct consequence of the Saint-Malo summit, the EU formulated a "Headline Goal" in Helsinki in 1999, setting 2003 as a target date for the creation of a European force of up to 60,000 troops, and establishing a catalogue of forces, the 'Helsinki Force Catalogue', to be able to carry out the so-called "Petersberg Tasks".

The Treaty of Amsterdam, which entered into force in 1999, transferred the WEU's Petersberg tasks to the EU, and stated that the EU's European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), replacing the WEU's ESDI, would be 'progressively framed' on the basis of these tasks.

In June 1999, the Cologne European Council decided to incorporate the role of the WEU within the EU, effectively abandoning the WEU. The Cologne Council also appointed Javier Solana as the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy to help progress both the CFSP and the ESDP.

In 2000 and 2001 a number of ESDP bodies were established within the EU Council, including the Political and Security Committee (PSC), the Military Committee (EUMC) and the Military Staff (EUMS).

In 2002 the European Union Satellite Centre superseded the Western European Union Satellite Centre, and the 1996 Berlin agreement was amended with the so-called Berlin Plus agreement, which allowed the EU to also draw on some of NATO's assets in its own peacekeeping operations, subject to a "right of first refusal" in that NATO must first decline to intervene in a given crisis. Additionally, an agreement was signed on information sharing between the EU and NATO, and EU liaison cells were addet at NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and Joint Force Command (JFC) in Naples.

In 2003 the Treaty of Nice entered into force, providing the ESDP's legal foundation in terms of competences, organisation, structures and assets. The same year the ESDP became operational through its first missions and operations, and the EU adopted its European Security Strategy, outlining common threats and objectives.[10] The European security strategy was for the first time drawn up in 2003 under the authority of the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and adopted by the Brussels European Council of 12 and 13 December 2003. With the emergence of the ESDP, it was the first time that Europe had formulated a joint security strategy. It could be considered a counterpart to the National Security Strategy of the United States.

It became clear that the objectives of the outlined in the Helsinki Headline Goal were not achievable quickly. In May 2004, EU defence ministers approved "Headline Goal 2010", extending the timelines for the EU's projects. However, it became clear that the objectives cannot be achieved by this date too. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé espressed his desperation: "The common security and defense policy of Europe? It is dead."[11][12]

In 2004 the European Defence Agency (EDA) was established to facilitate defence integration.

In 2005 the EU Battlegroups (BG) initiative was operational as a result of the Helsinki Headline Goal process. Each battlegroup were to quickly be able to deploy about 1,500 personnel.[13]

2009 – 2015: Deeper cooperation enabled, WEU dissolved

Signing of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007)

Upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 the ESDP was renamed the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), a mutual defence clause was introduced among member states and a subset of willing member states fulfilling 'higher criteria' were allowed to pursue Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). The post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also superseded the two previous posts of High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and European Commissioner for External Relations. The treaty also led to the dissolution of the Western European Union in 2011 as, with the solidarity clause (deemed to supersede the WEU's military mutual defence clause) and the expansion of the CSDP, the WEU became redundant.

2015 – present: New political impetus, structural integration

The mutual defence clause, Article 42.7, was invoked for the first time in November 2015 following the terrorist attacks in Paris, which were described by French President François Hollande as an attack against Europe as a whole.[14][15]

In 2016 HR/VP Federica Mogherini drew up a new security strategy, the European Union Global Strategy, which along with the Russian annexation of Crimea, the scheduled British withdrawal from the EU and the election of Donald Trump as US President have given the CSDP a new impetus.

This has given rise to a number of initiatives:

The MPCC is a part of the External Action Service's Military Staff (EUMS) that constitutes the EU's first permanent operational headquarters. The Director General of the EUMS also serves as Director of the MPCC - exercising command and control over the operations within the MPCC's remit.


Location of decentralised CSDP agencies in addition to the Brussels-based External Action Service (EEAS), Defence Agency (EDA) and Council

The defence arrangements which have been established under the EU institutions are part of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), a branch of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It should be noted that Denmark has an opt-out from the CSDP.[1]

The legal basis of the CSDP is Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), as amended in 2009 by the Treaty of Lisbon.[16]

High Representative

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR) is the chief co-ordinator and representative of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including the CSDP. The position is currently held by Federica Mogherini.

The post was created under the Treaty of Amsterdam as the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy; it then was occupied by Javier Solana for ten years until it was aggrandised following the Lisbon Treaty providing a seat on the European Commission and chair of the council of EU foreign ministers. Following the Lisbon Treaty the post is assisted by the European External Action Service (EEAS) that was set up in December 2010.[17]

Where foreign matters is agreed between EU member states, the High Representative can speak for the EU in that area, such as negotiating on behalf of the member states. The Representative co-ordinates the work of the European Union Special Representatives as well as other appointments such as anti-terrorist co-ordinator.

Beside representing the EU at international fora and co-ordinating the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy, the High Representative is:

According to proposals made in 2009 by the Swedish EU presidency, the High Representative will control the staffing and budget of the EEAS, and propose the size of budget to be allocated. The High Representative is responsible for appointing EEAS staff and for controlling general foreign policy (outside of trade, development and enlargement which has to be made together with the Commission) including security initiatives and intelligence sharing. However, although the High Representative may prepare initiatives, decisions will still have to be taken by the member states in Council. The High Representative would also have to report to Parliament.[18]

While there has been some criticism of the vague division of powers between the EU's top players, Ukrainian ambassador to the EU Andriy Veselovsky praised the framework and clarified it in his own terms: The President of the European Commission speaks as the EU's "government" while the President of the European Council is a "strategist". The High Representative specialises in "bilateral relations" while the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy deals in technical matters such as the free trade agreement with Ukraine (here, Veselovsky makes a mistake, as FTAs are actually part of the EU's common commercial policy—for which the European Commissioner for Trade is responsible). The President of the European Parliament meanwhile articulates the EU's values.[19]

With the growth in role of the High Representative, and their exclusion from the European Council, the national foreign ministers are now uncertain of their role vs the High Representative. At an informal meeting in Finland it was mooted that they could serve as special envoys on the High Representative's behalf. This has been backed by Ashton who said that so long as the EU spoke with one voice, it didn't matter who was speaking.[20]

External Action Service

Lt. gen. Pulkkinen has served as Director General of the Military Staff since 2016

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the diplomatic service and foreign and defence ministry of the European Union (EU). The EEAS is led by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), who is also President of the Foreign Affairs Council and Vice-President of the European Commission, and carries out the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).[18][21]

The EEAS does not propose or implement policy in its own name, but prepares acts to be adopted by the High Representative, the European Commission or the Council.[22] The EEAS is also in charge of EU diplomatic missions (delegations)[23] and intelligence and crisis management structures.[24][25][26]

The EEAS, as well as the office of the HR, was introduced upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009. It was formally established on 1 December 2010[27] The EEAS was formed by merger of the external relations departments of the European Commission and of the Council, which were joined by staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States.[21] Although it supports both the Commission and the Council, the EEAS is independent from them and has its own staff, as well as a separate section in the EU budget.[28]

The EEAS and the European Defence Agency (EDA) together form the Secretariat of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the structural integration pursued by 25 of the 28 national armed forces of the EU since 2017.[29]

Council preparatory bodies

General Kostarakos has served as Chairman of the Military Committee since 2015


The following agencies relate to the CSDP:

  • The Defence Agency (EDA), based in Brussels, facilitates the improvement of national military capabilities and integration. In that capacity, it makes proposals, coordinates, stimulates collaboration, and runs projects.
  • The Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), based in Warsaw, Poland, leads the European coast guard that controls the borders of the Schengen Area.
  • The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), based in Paris, is an autonomous think tank that researches EU-relevant security issues. The research results are published in papers, books, reports, policy briefs, analyses and newsletters. In addition, the institute convenes seminars and conferences on relevant issues that bring together EU officials, national experts, decision-makers and NGO representatives from all Member States.
  • The Satellite Centre (SatCen), located in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, supports the decision-making by providing products and services resulting from the exploitation of relevant space assets and collateral data, including satellite and aerial imagery, and related services.

Permanent structured cooperation

  PESCO States
  Non-PESCO EU States

The Treaty of Lisbon added the possibility for those members whose military capabilities fulfill higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) within the EU framework (PSCD).[38]

Those states shall notify their intention to the Council and to the High Representative. The Council then adopts, by qualified majority a decision establishing PESCO and determining the list of participating Member States. Any other member state, that fulfills the criteria and wishes to participate, can join the PSCD following the same procedure, but in the voting for the decision will participate only the states already part of the PSCD. If a participating state no longer fulfills the criteria a decision suspending its participation is taken by the same procedure as for accepting new participants, but excluding the concerned state from the voting procedure. If a participating state wishes to withdraw from PSCD it just notifies the Council to remove it from the list of participants. All other decisions and recommendations of the Council concerning PSCD issues unrelated to the list of participants are taken by unanimity of the participating states.[38]

The criteria established in the PSCD Protocol are the following:[38]

On 7 September 2017 an agreement was made between EU foreign affairs ministers to move forward with PESCO with 10 initial projects. Although the details are still to be established, the aim would be for it to be as inclusive of member states as possible and is anticipated to be activated in December 2017.[39][40][41][42]

Military Erasmus

The European initiative for the exchange of young officers inspired by Erasmus, often referred to as military Erasmus, is an initiative undertaken by the European Union (EU) member states aimed at developing the exchanges between armed forces of future military officers as well as their teachers and instructors during their initial education[43] and training. Due to the fact that the initiative is implemented by the Member States on a purely voluntary basis, their autonomy with regard to military training is not compromised.

Defence fund

The European Defence Fund is a fund managed by the European Union (EU) for coordinating and increasing national investment in defence research and improve interoperability between national forces. It was proposed in 2016 by President Jean-Claude Juncker and established in 2017 to a value of €5.5 billion per year. The fund has two stands; research (€90 million until the end of 2019 and €500 million per year after 2020) and development & acquisition (€500 million in total for 2019–20 then €1 billion per year after 2020).[44]

Together with the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence and Permanent Structured Cooperation it forms a new comprehensive defence package for the EU.[45]

Relationship with NATO

The Berlin Plus agreement is the short title of a comprehensive package of agreements made between NATO and the EU on 16 December 2002.[46] These agreements were based on conclusions of NATO's 1999 Washington summit, sometimes referred to as the CJTF mechanism,[47] and allowed the EU to draw on some of NATO's military assets in its own peacekeeping operations.

Map showing European membership of the EU and NATO
  EU member only
  NATO member only
  Member of both

Out of the 28 EU member states, 22 are also members of NATO. Another three NATO members are EU applicants—Albania, Montenegro and Turkey. Two others—Iceland and Norway—have opted to remain outside of the EU, however participate in the EU's single market. The memberships of the EU and NATO are distinct, and some EU member states are traditionally neutral on defence issues. Several of the new EU member states were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact.

In 2012 then Director General of the Military Staff Lt. gen. Ton van Osch presented the following chart, illustrating a perceived utility of the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (civilian and military components) compared to that of NATO, depending on level of conflict:

CSDP utility.svg

According to this graph, CSDP action could be considered more effective or relevant given a level of conflict that is not too high - i which case NATO capabilities become more effective.

Possible evolution

The Treaty of Lisbon introduced the following in the founding treaties of the union:

This has as been blocked by the United Kingdom, which is the main opponent of EU defence integration[49], in particular. The United Kingdom is scheduled to withdraw from the EU in 2019.


The Global strategy for the foreign and security policy of the European Union, for short the European Union Global Strategy (EUGS), is the updated doctrine of the European Union to improve the effectiveness of the defense and security of the Union and its members states, the protection of civilians, cooperation between the member states' armed forces, management of immigration, crises etc. Adopted on 28 June 2016[50], it replaces the European Security Strategy of 2003. The EUGS is complemented by a document titled "Implementation Plan on Security and Defense" (IPSD)[51].


Since 2002, the European Union has intervened abroad[52] thirty times in three different continents.

In the EU terminology, civilian CSDP interventions are called ‘missions’, regardless of whether they have an executive mandate such as EULEX Kosovo or a non-executive mandate (all others). Military interventions, however, can either have an executive mandate such as for example Operation ATALANTA in which case they are referred to as ‘operations’ and are commanded at two-star level; or non-executive mandate (e.g. EUTM Somalia)in which case they are called ‘missions’ and are commanded at one-star level.

The first deployment of European troops under the ESDP, following the 1999 declaration of intent, was in March 2003 in the Republic of Macedonia. "EUFOR Concordia" used NATO assets and was considered a success and replaced by a smaller police mission, EUPOL Proxima, later that year. Since then, there have been other small police, justice and monitoring missions. As well as the Republic of Macedonia, the EU has maintained its deployment of peacekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of EUFOR Althea mission.[53]

Between May and September 2003 EU troops were deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during "Operation Artemis" under a mandate given by UN Security Council Resolution 1484 which aimed to prevent further atrocities and violence in the Ituri Conflict and put the DRC's peace process back on track. This laid out the "framework nation" system to be used in future deployments. The EU returned to the DRC during July–November 2006 with EUFOR RD Congo, which supported the UN mission there during the country's elections.

Geographically, EU missions outside the Balkans and the DRC have taken place in Georgia, Indonesia, Sudan, Palestine, and UkraineMoldova. There is also a judicial mission in Iraq (EUJUST Lex). On 28 January 2008, the EU deployed its largest and most multi-national mission to Africa, EUFOR Tchad/RCA.[54] The UN-mandated mission involves troops from 25 EU states (19 in the field) deployed in areas of eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic in order to improve security in those regions. EUFOR Tchad/RCA reached full operation capability in mid-September 2008, and handed over security duties to the UN (MINURCAT mission) in mid-March 2009.[55]

The EU launched its first maritime CSDP operation on 12 December 2008 (Operation ATALANTA). The concept of the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) was created on the back of this operation, which is still successfully combatting piracy off the coast of Somalia almost a decade later. A second such intervention was launched in 2015 to tackle migration problems in the southern Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med), working under the name Operation SOPHIA.

Most of the CSDP missions deployed so far are mandated to support Security Sector Reforms (SSR) in host-states. One of the core principles of CSDP support to SSR is local ownership. The EU Council defines ownership as "the appropriation by the local authorities of the commonly agreed objectives and principles".[56] Despite EU's strong rhetorical attachment to the local ownership principle, research shows that CSDP missions continue to be an externally driven, top-down and supply-driven endeavour, resulting often in the low degree of local participation.[57]


National capabilities

Charles de Gaulle, a French aircraft carrier

The implementation of the CSDP draws on the civilian and military assets provided by the EU member states, which also are obliged to collective selv-defence based on Treaty on European Union (TEU).

Six EU states host nuclear weapons: France and the United Kingdom each have their own nuclear programmes, while Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands host US nuclear weapons as part of NATO's nuclear sharing policy. Combined, the EU possesses 525 warheads, and hosts between 90 and 130 US warheads. The EU has the third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, after the United States and Russia.

Forces introduced at Union level

Irish Army personnel from the Nordic Battle Group at an exercise in 2010

The Helsinki Headline Goal Catalogue is a listing of rapid reaction forces composed of 60,000 troops managed by the European Union, but under control of the countries who deliver troops for it.

  • The battle groups (BG) adhere to the CSDP, and are based on contributions from a coalition of member states. Each of the eighteen Battlegroups consists of a battalion-sized force (1,500 troops) reinforced with combat support elements.[58][59] The groups rotate actively, so that two are ready for deployment at all times. The forces are under the direct control of the Council of the European Union. The Battlegroups reached full operational capacity on 1 January 2007, although, as of January 2013 they are yet to see any military action.[60] They are based on existing ad hoc missions that the European Union (EU) has undertaken and has been described by some as a new "standing army" for Europe.[59] The troops and equipment are drawn from the EU member states under a "lead nation". In 2004, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the plans and emphasised the value and importance of the Battlegroups in helping the UN deal with troublespots.[61]
  • The Medical Corps (EMC) is an incident response team that was launched on 15 February 2016 by the European Union to provide an emergency response force to deal with outbreaks of epidemic disease anywhere in the world.[62] The EMC was formed after the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa when the WHO was criticized for a slow and insufficient response in the early stages of the Ebola outbreak.[63] The EMC is part of the emergency response capacity of European countries.[64] Teams from nine EU member states—Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden — are available for deployment in an emergency. The EMC consist of medical teams, public health teams, mobile biosafety laboratories, medical evacuation capacities, experts in public health and medical assessment and coordination, and technical and logistics support.[65] Any country in need of assistance can make a request to Emergency Response Coordination Centre, part of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department.[66] The first deployment of the EMC was announced by the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection on 12 May 2016, a response to the outbreak of yellow fever in Angola in 2016.[67] An earlier concept of an emergency medical response team was Task Force Scorpio formed by the United Nations during the first Gulf War.
  • The Medical Command (EMC) is a planned medical command centre in support of EU missions, formed as part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).[68] The EMC will provide the EU with a permanent medical capability to support operations abroad, including medical resources and a rapidly deployable medical task force. The EMC will also provide medical evacuation facilities, triage and resuscitation, treatment and holding of patients until they can be returned to duty, and emergency dental treatment. It will also contribute to harmonising medical standards, certification and legal (civil) framework conditions.[69]
  • The Force Crisis Response Operation Core (EUFOR CROC) is a flagship defence project under development as part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) facility. EURFOR CROC will contribute to the creation of a "full spectrum force package" to speed up provision of military forces and the EU's crisis management capabilities.[70] Rather than creating a standing force, the project involves creating a concrete catalogue of military force elements that would speed up the establishment of a force when the EU decides to launch an operation. It is land-focused and aims to generate a force of 60,000 troops from the contributing states alone. While it does not establish any form of "European army", it foresees an deployable, interoperable force under a single command.[71] Germany is the lead country for the project, but the French are heavily involved and it is tied to President Emanuel Macron's proposal to create a standing intervention force. The French see it as an example of what PESCO is about.[72]

Multinational forces contributing through Article 42.3 TEU

Personnel of the European Corps in Strasbourg, France, during a change of command ceremony in 2013
Location of headquarters of a selection of intergovernmental defence organisations that are established outside the EU framework, but may support the CSDP in accordance with Article 42.3 of the Treaty on European Union ("Those Member States which together establish multinational forces may also make them available to the common security and defence policy.")

This section presents an incomplete list of forces and bodies established intergovernmentally amongst a subset of member states. The military forces that have been established are typically dedicated in priority to the European Union (EU) through Article 42.3 of TEU, but may also be deployed either in a NATO environment, acting as part of the European branch of NATO, acting upon the mandate of the participating countries, or acting upon the mandate of other international organisations, such as United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or any other international entity.



  • The European Air Transport Command (EATC) is the command centre that exercises the operational control of the majority of the aerial refueling capabilities and military transport fleets of its participating nations. Located at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands, the command also bears a limited responsibility for exercises, aircrew training and the harmonisation of relevant national air transport regulations.[74][75] The command was established in 2010 with a view to provide a more efficient management of the participating nations' assets and resources in this field.



  • The Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), is a Franco-British military force. It draws upon both the British Armed Forces and the French Armed Forces to field a deployable force with land, air and maritime components together with command and control and supporting logistics. It is distinct from the similarly named UK Joint Expeditionary Force. The Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (or CJEF) is envisaged as a deployable, combined Franco-British military force for use in a wide range of crisis scenarios, up to and including high intensity combat operations. As a joint force it involves all three armed Services: a land component composed of formations at national brigade level, maritime and air components with their associated Headquarters, together with logistics and support functions. The CJEF is not conceived as a standing force but rather as available at notice for UK-French bilateral, NATO, European Union, United Nations or other operations. Combined air and land exercises commenced during 2011 with a view towards developing a full capability. The CJEF is also seen as a potential stimulus towards greater interoperability and coherence in military doctrine, training and equipment requirements.
Overview and EU member states' participation
Finabel European Corps European Gendarmerie Force European Air Transport Command European Air Group European Maritime Force Movement Coordination Centre Europe[a] Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation
Arms Arms of Finabel.svg Coat of arms of Eurocorps.svg Arms of the European Gendarmerie Force.svg Coat of arms of the European Air Transport Command.svg Coat of arms of the European Air Group.svg Coat of arms of Euromarfor.svg Coat of arms of Movement Coordination Centre Europe.svg None
Branch Terrestrial Aerial Naval Multi-component
Description Organisation promoting interoperability Corps Gendarmerie Command for refueling and transport capabilities Organisation promoting interoperability Non-standing force Control centre for movement Organisation facilitating armament programmes
Founded 1953 1992 2006 2010 1995 1995 2007 1996
Seat Brussels Strasbourg Vicenza Eindhoven Buckinghamshire N/A Eindhoven Bonn
Capacity N/A 60 000 troops 2 300 troops 220 aircraft N/A N/A N/A N/A
Response time N/A 30 days 30 days N/A N/A 5 days N/A N/A
Motto Reflexion serving military action None Lex paciferat Integrated, innovative, efficient Improved capability through interoperability At sea for peace None None
Working language English English Unknown English Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Membership (year of accession)
Austria coat of arms official.svg Austria No No N/A No No N/A 2010 No
Royal Arms of Belgium.svg Belgium 1953 1993 N/A 2010 1997 No 2007 2003
Coat of arms of Bulgaria (version by constitution).svg Bulgaria No No No No No No 2017 No
Lesser coat of arms of Cyprus.svg Cyprus 2008 No N/A No No No No No
Coat of arms of Croatia.svg Croatia 2017 No N/A No No No 2011 No
Small coat of arms of the Czech Republic.svg Czech Republic 2012 No N/A No No N/A 2010 No
National Coat of arms of Denmark no crown.svg Denmark No No N/A No No No 2007 No
Small coat of arms of Estonia.svg Estonia No No N/A No No No 2007 No
Coat of arms of Finland.svg Finland 2008 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Armoiries république française.svg France 1953 1992 2006 2010 1995 1995 2007 1996
Coat of arms of Germany.svg Germany 1956 1992 N/A 2010 1997 No 2007 1996
Lesser coat of arms of Greece.svg Greece 1996 No N/A No No No No No
Arms of Hungary.svg Hungary 2015 No No No No N/A 2007 No
Coat of arms of Ireland.svg Ireland No No N/A No No No No No
Emblem of Italy.svg Italy 1953 No 2006 2015 1997 1995 2007 1996
Arms of Latvia.svg Latvia 2016 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Coat of arms of Lithuania.svg Lithuania No No Partner No No No 2015 No
Arms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.svg Luxembourg 1953 1996 N/A 2012 No N/A 2007 No
Arms of Malta.svg Malta 2010 No N/A No No No No No
Royal Arms of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands 1953 No 2006 2010 1997 No 2007 No
Herb Polski.svg Poland 2006 No 2011 No No No 2008 No
Shield of the Kingdom of Portugal (1481-1910).png Portugal 1996 No 2006 No No 1995 2010 No
Coat of arms of Romania.svg Romania 2008 No 2009 No No No 2008 No
Coat of arms of Slovakia.svg Slovakia 2006 No N/A No No N/A 2015 No
Coat of arms of Slovenia.svg Slovenia 2016 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Arms of Spain.svg Spain 1990 1994 2006 2014 1997 1995 2007 2005
Shield of arms of Sweden.svg Sweden 2015 No N/A No No No 2007 No
Arms of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom 1973 No N/A No 1995 No 2007 1996


Galileo navigation system

Secure Software-defined Radio (PESCO)

Military Mobility (PESCO)

See also

Other organisations



  • NATO
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
  • Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE), an organisation located at Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands that aims to coordinate and optimise the use of airlift, sealift and land movement assets owned or leased by its participating nations. Established on 1 July 2007 when the earlier European Airlift Centre (EAC) and the Sealift Co-ordination Centre (SCC) merged, the MCCE was a response to the shortage of aerial and naval strategic lift capabilities reported by the EU and NATO in 1999. The centre is presently staffed by 30 military and civilians personnel from its participating nations. In addition to its EU members, the United States and Turkey participate in the MCCE.


  1. ^ The membership of Movement Coordination Centre Europe also includes some countries outside the union.


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  15. ^ Source: CNNAdded on 1418 GMT (2218 HKT) November 16, 2015 (2015-11-16). "Francois Hollande: 'France is at war' – CNN Video". Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
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  23. ^ Art. 5 of COUNCIL DECISION establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service PDF, Council of the European Union, 20 July 2010
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  25. ^ "The Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC)". 
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  27. ^ Rettman, Andrew (2 December 2010) Ashton names EU foreign-service priorities at low-key launch event, EU Observer
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  47. ^ Heritage Foundation report, October 4, 2004 : "Through the CJTF mechanism, NATO member states do not have to actively participate actively in a specific mission if they do not feel their vital interests are involved, but their opting out [...] would not stop other NATO members from participating in an intervention if they so desired." [1]
  48. ^ "Treaty of Lisbon". EU. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. 
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  57. ^ Filip Ejdus, ‘Here is your mission, now own it!’ the rhetoric and practice of local ownership in EU interventions’, European Security, published online 6 June 2017
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  63. ^ Moon, Suerie; et al. (28 November 2015). "Will Ebola change the game? Ten essential reforms before the next pandemic. The report of the Harvard-LSHTM Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola" (PDF). The Lancet. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00946-0. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
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Further reading

  • Book – What ambitions for European defence in 2020?, European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Book – European Security and Defence Policy: The first 10 years (1999–2009), European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • "Guide to the ESDP" nov.2008 edition Exhaustive guide on ESDP's missions, institutions and operations, written and edited by the Permanent representation of France to the European Union.
  • Dijkstra, Hylke (2013). Policy-Making in EU Security and Defense: An Institutional Perspective. European Administrative Governance Series (Hardback 240pp ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. ISBN 978-1-137-35786-1. 
  • Nugent, Neill (2006). The Government and Politics of the European Union. The European Union Series (Paperback 630pp ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, New York. ISBN 9780230000025. 
  • Howorth, Joylon (2007). Security and Defence Policy in the European Union. The European Union Series (Paperback 315pp ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, New York. ISBN 978-0-333-63912-2. 
  • PhD Thesis on Civilian ESDP - EU Civilian crisis management (University of Geneva, 2008, 441 p. in French)
  • Hayes, Ben (2009). NeoConOpticon: The EU Security-Industrial Complex (Paperback, 84 pp ed.). Transnational Institute/Statewatch. ISSN 1756-851X. 
  • Giovanni Arcudi & Michael E. Smith (2013). The European Gendarmerie Force: a solution in search of problems?, European Security, 22(1): 1–20, DOI:10.1080/09662839.2012.747511
  • Teresa Eder (2014). Welche Befugnisse hat die Europäische Gendarmerietruppe?, Der Standard, 5 Februar 2014.
  • Alexander Mattelaer (2008). The Strategic Planning of EU Military Operations – The Case of EUFOR Tchad/RCA, IES Working Paper 5/2008.
  • Benjamin Pohl (2013). The logic underpinning EU crisis management operations, European Security, 22(3): 307–325, DOI:10.1080/09662839.2012.726220
  • "The Russo-Georgian War and Beyond: towards a European Great Power Concert", Danish Institute of International Studies.
  • U.S Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), Operation EUFOR TCHAD/RCA and the EU's Common Security and Defense Policy., U.S. Army War College, October 2010
  • Mai'a K. Davis Cross "Security Integration in Europe: How Knowledge-based Networks are Transforming the European Union." University of Michigan Press, 2011.

External links

  • CSDP structure, instruments, and agencies, EEAS website
  • Analysis – Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Timeline, Council of the European Union
  • The Armed Forces of the European Union, 2011 – 2013, by Charles Heyman. – Good overview of every armed force within the EU, detailed equipment inventories.
  • History of European defence integration, European Defence Agency
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