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Common Security and Defence Policy

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Common Security and Defence Policy

European Union
Flag of the European Union

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

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), formerly known as the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (EU) and is the domain of EU policy covering defence and military aspects, as well as civilian crisis management. The ESDP was 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 Common Security and Defence Policy is the domain of the European Council, which is an EU institution, whereby the heads of member states meet. Nonetheless, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, currently Federica Mogherini, also plays a significant role. As Chairperson of the external relations configuration of the Council, the High Representative prepares and examines decisions to be made before they are brought to the Council.

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


  • History 1
    • Background 1945–54 1.1
    • Petersberg tasks 1.2
    • WEU-NATO relationship and the Berlin agreement 1.3
    • Incorporation of the Petersberg tasks and the WEU in the EU 1.4
    • Helsinki Headline Goal 1.5
  • Berlin Plus agreement and the relationship with NATO 2
  • European Security Strategy 3
    • European Defence Agency 3.1
    • European Union Institute for Security Studies 3.2
    • Treaty of Lisbon 3.3
  • Operations 4
  • Structure 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


Background 1945–54

Earlier efforts were made to have a common European security and defence policy. The 1947 West Germany and Italy in both WEU and NATO as the conference ended the occupation of West Germany and the defence aims had shifted from Germany to the Soviet Union.

Petersberg tasks

In 1992, the Western European Union adopted the 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:[1]

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.[2] 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 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 (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. In 1998, 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, eventually shutting down 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.

Helsinki Headline Goal

The European Union made its first concrete step to enhance military capabilities, in line with the ESDP, in 1999 when its 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.

Berlin Plus agreement and the relationship with NATO

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

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, which 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 centre for planning and operations) and NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples.

A phrase that is often used to describe the relationship between the EU forces and NATO is "separable, but not separate":[3] the same forces and capabilities form the basis of both EU and NATO efforts, but portions can be allocated to the European Union if necessary. The right of first refusal governs missions:the EU may only act if NATO first decides not to.

European Security Strategy

The European Security Strategy was written in 2003 and was the policy document that guided for a time 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:

  • Common Security and Defence Policy - European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Common Security and Defence Policy - Council of the European Union
  • Analysis - Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

External links

  • 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.
  • PhD Thesis on Civilian ESDP - EU Civilian crisis management (University of Geneva, 2008, 441 p. in French)
  • 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.

Further reading

  1. ^ EUROPA - Glossary - Petersberg tasks
  2. ^ NATO Ministerial Meetings Berlin - 3-4 June 1996
  3. ^ CDI Military Reform Project - European Union - Centre for Defence Information
  4. ^ The full report can be found here.
  5. ^ "Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy - Providing Security in a Changing World" 11 Dec 2008
  6. ^ Statement of the Presidency of the Permanent Council of the WEU on behalf of the High Contracting Parties to the Modified Brussels Treaty – Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, Western European Union 31 March 2010
  7. ^ Christopher S. Chivvis, "Birthing Athena. The Uncertain Future of ESDP", Focus stratégique, Paris, Ifri, March 2008.
  8. ^ "EUFOR Tchad/RCA"
  9. ^ Benjamin Pohl (2013) The logic underpinning EU crisis management operations, European Security, 22(3): 307-325, DOI:10.1080/09662839.2012.726220, p. 311.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ a b EU Operations Centre Archived at Wayback Machine on 30 Mar 2008.


See also

With effect from 1 January 2007, the EU will have a third option for commanding, from Brussels, missions and operations of limited size (that is, like that of a battlegroup: some 2,000 troops). On that date, the new EU Operations Centre (EUOC) within the EU Military Staff (EUMS) will be ready for action. Using some EUMS core staff, as well as some extra “double-hatted” EUMS officers and so-called “augmentees” from the Member States, the EU will have an increased capacity to respond to crisis management situations. So far, the EU has had two options as to how to run a military operation at the Operation Headquarters (OHQ) level. One option is, in a so-called “autonomous” operation, to make use of facilities provided by any of the five Operation Headquarters (OHQs) currently available in European Member States. A second option is, through recourse to NATO capabilities and common assets (under the so-called “Berlin plus” arrangements), to make use of command and control options such as Operation Headquarters located at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium and D-SACEUR as the Operation Commander. This is the option used in the conduct of Operation ALTHEA, where EUFOR BiH operates in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[11]

In addition to the EU centre, 5 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.[11]

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).

The CSDP is furthermore strongly facilitated by the European External Action Service.

The following permanent political and military bodies were established after the approval of the European Council.

  State which participate in the CSDP
  States with an opt-out from the CSDP
The participation in European defence organisations


Geographically, EU missions outside the Balkans and the DRC have taken place in Indonesia, Sudan, Palestine, and Ukraine-Moldova. 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.[8] 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 is expected to hand over security duties to the UN in mid-March 2009.[9]

Between May and September 2003 EU troops were deployed to the UN mission there during the country's elections.

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.[7]


Lisbon extends the enhanced co-operation mechanism to defence issues and also envisions the establishment of a Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence.

Lisbon also led to the termination of the Western European Union in 2010 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. All its remaining activities are to be wound up or transferred to the EU by June 2011.[6]

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.

The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon renamed the ESDP to Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has been created (superseding the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy). Unanimous decisions in the Council of the European Union continue to instruct the EU foreign policy and CSDP matters became available to enhanced co-operation.

Treaty of Lisbon

The EU Institute for Security Studies (EU-ISS) was inaugurated in January 2002 and is based in Paris. Although an EU agency, it 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 EU-ISS convenes seminars and conferences on relevant issues that bring together EU officials, national experts, decision-makers and NGO representatives from all Member States.

European Union Institute for Security Studies

The European Defence Agency (EDA) was established in July 2004 and is based in Brussels. It supports the EU Member States in improving their military capabilities in order to complete CSDP targets as set out in the European Security Strategy. In that capacity, it makes proposals, coordinates, stimulates collaboration, and runs projects. The Member States themselves, however, remain in charge of their defence policies, planning and investment. Four strategies form the framework to guide the activities of the Agency and its 26 participating Member States: 1) the Capability Development Plan (CDP), 2) the European Defence Research & Technology; 3) the European Armaments Cooperation (EAC) and 4) the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).

European Defence Agency

The document was followed by the 2008 Report of the Implementation of the European Security Strategy: Providing Security in a Changing World. It concludes with the admonition "To build a secure Europe in a better world, we must do more to shape events. And we must do it now."[5]


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