European Security and Defence Policy

European Security and Defence Policy

The European Security and Defence Policy or ESDP is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar of the European Union (EU). The ESDP is the successor of the European Security and Defence Identity under NATO, but differs in that it falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union itself, including countries with no ties to NATO.

Formally, the European Security and Defence Policy is the domain of the Council of the European Union, which is an intergovernmental body in which the member states are represented. Nonetheless, the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, in the person of Javier Solana also plays a significant role. In his position as Secretary General of the Council, he prepares and examines decisions to be made before they are brought to the Council. He is based at and supported by the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.

Political and diplomatic history

European security policy has followed several different paths during the 1990s, developing simultaneously within the Western European Union, NATO and the European Union itself.


Earlier efforts were made to have a common European security and defence policy. In 1948 the
Western European Union, a collective defence organisation composed of those states who were members of NATO, was founded. NATO soon overshadowed the organisation in importance. In the 1950s a European Defence Community, similar in nature to the European Coal and Steel Community, was proposed but the treaty failed to be ratified by the French parliament and the project was abandoned.

Petersberg tasks

In 1992, the Western European Union had adopted the Petersberg tasks, designed to cope with the possible destabilising of Eastern Europe. The WEU itself had no standing army but was dependent on cooperation between its members. Its tasks ranged from the most modest to the most robust, and included: [ [ EUROPA - Glossary - Petersberg tasks ] ]
*Humanitarian and rescue tasks
*Peacekeeping tasks
*Tasks for combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking

WEU-NATO relationship and the Berlin agreement

At the 1996 NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, it was agreed that the Western European Union (WEU) would oversee the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO structures. [ [ NATO Ministerial Meetings Berlin - 3-4 June 1996 ] ] The ESDI was to create 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 the military bases which it had had in Europe since the Cold War. The Berlin agreement allowed European countries (through the WEU) to use NATO assets if it so wished (this agreement was later amended to allow the European Union to conduct such missions, the so-called Berlin-plus arrangement).

Incorporation of the Petersberg tasks and the WEU in the EU

The European Union incorporated the same Petersberg tasks within its domain with the Amsterdam Treaty. The treaty signalled the progressive framing of a common security and defence policy based on the Petersberg tasks. Traditional British reluctance to such a plan changed into endorsement after a bilateral declaration of French President Jacques Chirac and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in St. Malo, where they stated that "the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises".

In June 1999, the Cologne European Council decided to incorporate the role of the Western European Union within the EU, effectively shutting down the WEU. The Cologne Council also appointed Javier Solana as the High Representative of the CFSP to help progress both the CFSP and the ESDP.

Helsinki Headline Goal

The first concrete step as part of the ESDP to enhance military capabilities was made in 1999 when EU member states signed the Helsinki Headline Goal. They include the creation of a catalogue of forces, the 'Helsinki Force Catalogue', to be able to carry out the so called “Petersberg Tasks”. The EU launched the European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP) at the Laeken Summit in December 2001. However, it became clear that the objectives 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.

EU-NATO relationship and the Berlin Plus agreement

Concerns were voiced that an independent European security pillar might result in a declining importance of NATO as a transatlantic forum. In response to St. Malo, the former US-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put forth the three famous D’s which outline American expectations towards ESDP to this day: 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.

In the joint EU-NATO declaration of 2002 the six founding principles included partnership, for example crisis management activities should be "mutually reinforcing", effective mutual consultation and cooperation, equality and due regard for ‘the decision-making autonomy and interests’ of both EU and NATO, and ‘coherent and mutually reinforcing development of the military capability requirements common to the two organisations’. In institutional terms, the partnership is reflected in particular by the "Berlin plus agreement" from March 2003 that allows the EU to use NATO structures, mechanisms and assets to carry out military operations if NATO declines to act. Furthermore an agreement has been signed on information sharing between the EU and NATO, and EU liaison cells are now in place at SHAPE (NATO’s strategic nerve center for planning and operations) and NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples.

A phrase which is often used to describe the relationship between the EU forces and NATO is "separable, but not separate": [ [ CDI Military Reform Project - European Union - Center for Defense Information ] ] the same forces and capabilities will form the basis of both EU and NATO efforts, but portions can be allocated to the European Union if necessary. Concerning missions, the right of first refusal exists: only if NATO refuses to act, the EU can decide to do so.

European Security Strategy

The European Security Strategy is the policy document that guides the European Union's international security strategy. Its headline reads: "A Secure Europe In A Better World". The document was approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 12 December 2003 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy CFSP Javier Solana. With the emergence of the ESDP, it is the first time that Europe has formulated a joint security strategy. It can be considered a counterpart to the National Security Strategy of the United States.

The document starts out with the declaration that "Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure nor so free". Its conclusion is that "The world is full of new dangers and opportunities". Along these lines, it argues that in order to ensure security for Europe in a globalising world, multilateral cooperation within Europe and abroad is to be the imperative, because "no single nation is able to tackle today's complex challenges". As such the ESS identifies a string of key threats Europe needs to deal with: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflict, failed states, and organised crime. [The full report can be found [ here] .]

European Defence Agency

On 12 July 2004 details of a European Defence Agency were finalised. The 80 person agency is headed by Nick Whitney, formerly in the UK's Ministry of Defence. The total spent by the 27 EU nations on defence is approximately €160 billion ($250 billion).


The 2004 draft EU constitution attempted to codify the European Security and Defence Policy further, but it was directly rejected by both France and the Netherlands, and not ratified by 7 others, and as such did not come into effect. The draft constitution read:

:The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides. It shall in that case recommend to the member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.:The policy of the Union in accordance with this article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states, which see their common defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, under the North Atlantic Treaty, and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework. ()

Lisbon Treaty

If the Treaty of Lisbon is ratified it will create a new post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (superseding the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, instead of a Union Foreign Minister per the failed Constitution.) However the post's ability to function independently of member states is limited through an agreement: cite web| url =| publisher = Council of the European Union| title = Presidency Conclusions Brussels European Council 21/22 June 2007| date = 23 June 2007| accessdate=2007-06-26]

The Conference also notes that the provisions covering CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) do not give new powers to the Commission to initiate decisions or increase the role of the European Parliament.

Overseas deployments

The first deployment of European troops under the ESDP, following the 1999 declaration of intent, was in March 2003 in the former Yugoslav 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 Macedonia, the EU deployed peacekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EUFOR Althea mission, which is still deployed as of November 2007 [Christopher S. Chivvis, [ "Birthing Athena. The Uncertain Future of ESDP"] , "Focus stratégique", Paris, Ifri, March 2008.] .

Between May and September 2003, "Operation Artemis" began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under UN Security Council Resolution 1484. This laid out the "framework nation" system to be used in future deployments. The EU returned to the DRC in 2006 with EUFOR RD Congo which supported the UN mission there during the country's elections. It ended in 2006.

Geographically, EU missions outside the Balkans and the DRC have taken place in Georgia, Indonesia, Sudan, Palestine, and Ukraine-Moldova. There is also a judicial mission in Iraq (EUJUST Lex). There is to be a deployment in Chad and the Central African Republic together with the UN in 2008.

Current content and structure

*European Defence Agency
*Helsinki Headline Goal
*European Gendarmerie Force
*European Union battle groups
*European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) []

The following permanent political and military bodies were established after the approval of the European Council.
*Political and Security Committee or PSC
*European Union Military Committee or EUMC
*European Union Military Staff or EUMS
*Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management or CIVCOM

ESDP is furthermore strongly facilitated by the EU Council Secretariat - home of for example Javier Solana, but also the EUMS - which can is some respects be considered as the equivalent of the EC in the second pillar.

From 1 January 2007 the EU Operations Centre began work in Brussels. It can command a limited size force of about 2000 troops (e.g. a battlegroup).

In addition to the EU centre, five national operational headquarters have been made available for use by the Union; Mont Valérien in Paris, Northwood in London, Potsdam, Centocelle in Rome and Larissa. For example, Operation Artemis used Mont Valérien as its OHQ and EUFOR's DR Congo operation uses Potsdam. The EU can also use NATO capabilities. [ [ EU Operations Centre]]

ee also

*European defence procurement
*Military of the European Union



*cite book
title=The Government and Politics of the European Union
author=Nugent, Neill
edition=Paperback 630pp
series=The European Union Series
publisher=Palgrave Macmillan, New York
isbn=0-230-00002-9, Hardback 630pp, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, ISBN 0-230-00001-0

*cite book
title=Security and Defence Policy in the European Union
author=Howorth, Joylon
edition=Paperback 315pp
series=The European Union Series
publisher=Palgrave Macmillan, New York
isbn=0-333-63912-X, Hardback 315pp, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, ISBN 0-333-63911-1

External links, Further Reading

* Hunter, Robert. "The European Security and Defense Policy: NATO's Companion—Or Competitor?" RAND National Security Research Division, 2002. 206 pp.
*Keukeleire, S., & MacNaughtan, J. (2008). The Foreign Policy of the European Union. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
* citation |last=von Ondarza |first=Nicolai |title=EU Military Deployment - An Executive Prerogative
publisher=German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin

* [ Council of the EU]
* [ EU defence policy]
* [ Analysis of Policy]
* [ On the European Security Strategy]
* [ Online Course on ESDP by the International Relations and Security Network (ISN)]
* [ European Defence (NGO)]
* [ Online Resource Guide to EU Foreign Policy]
* [ ESDI evolution: The presentation of the Eurocorps-Foreign Legion concept and its Single European Regiment at the European Parliament in June 2003; and the formal relay at the United Nations closing roundtable of the 60th Anniversary and commemoration on 29th May 2008 in the UN Security Council Chamber in the Palais des Nations in Geneva]
* [ A web portal specialised in European Security and Defence Policy topics]

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