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CSDP: Is There a Next Chapter?
Amongst commentators, it is fashionable to highlight the persistent military weakness of the European Union by comparison with the United States or NATO, ignoring the progress achieved since 1999. This paper will attempt to examine the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), a difficult, often slow and undoubtedly incomplete process, before examining possible ways forward to strengthen CSDP credibility as the EU prepares for the December 2013 Defence Council.
External Representation of the Eurozone: Implications for the European Union
The European Union’s limited capacity and the fairly diversified interests of its Member States have proven to be the most significant contributors to its constrained capacity to tackle economic and financial problems at the international level. This problem has become only more acute and transparent with the outbreak of the recent global financial crisis. The crisis elevated some “less popular” items on the EMU-related agenda to the level of “bread-and-butter” ones; it has also expanded that agenda into areas that, so far, have not been considered the core, such as supervisory issues.
Proposals for a Revival of Permanent Structured Cooperation
With the Lisbon Treaty, therefore, new rules and procedures could have paved the way towards a more credible and effective defence policy, at least in theory. In reality no real steps ahead have been done.This article tries both to investigate the obstacles that are blocking efforts towards PESCO and to advance some proposals on how to regain dynamism in the common defence field
In Search of a Role: Three Years of the European External Action Service
Caught between high expectations and an unwilling commitment from the other parts of the EU foreign policy-making machinery (read: the Member States and the Commission), the EEAS has been struggling to find its role: is it a clearing-house or secretariat for reaching consensus among national positions, a ministry implementing foreign policy, a manager of a network of delegations abroad, or a policy entrepreneur?
Claudia Major, Stefan Krümpelmann
Making the Choice for Europe: The State of CSDP and Prospects for It to Be an Organising Framework for European Security in the Next Decade
The European Union prides itself on having launched five new missions between summer 2012 and 2013 within the framework of its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It is preparing for the 2013 December EU Council summit, which is to be devoted to defence and the strengthening of CSDP. However, what sounds like a sign of success is rather one of despair. While the EU has been trying for more than a decade to develop capacities and institutions for crisis management, underpin it with a strategy, and implement all this with military and civilian missions, its record remains mixed at best
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© Copyright by Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, Warszawa 2013
Editor-in-chief: Marcin Zaborowski
Managing editor: Kacper Rękawek
Copy editor: Brien Barnett
Proofreading: Katarzyna Staniewska
Cover design: Malwina Kuhn
Typeset: Dorota Dołęgowska
Camille Grand–director of the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), France
Artur Nowak-Far–undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland
Gianni Bonvicini–executive vice president of the Institute of International Affairs (IAI), Italy
Rosa Balfour–senior policy analyst at the European Policy Centre, Belgium
Claudia Major–deputy head of the International Security Division at the German Institute for
International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin
Stefan Krumpelmann–postgraduate student at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London
Publisher: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych (The Polish Institute of International Affairs) ul. Warecka 1a, 00-950 Warszawa; tel. +48 22 556 80 00; fax +48 22 556 80 99; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs are solely those of the authors. The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs is regularly presented in the catalogue of International Current Awareness Services, in Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory, and in International Political Science Abstracts/Documentation Politique Internationale. Selected articles are included in the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences.
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The year 2013 has become–quite unexpectedly–a year of vivid discussions about the state of European defence. The European Council session devoted to the topic and scheduled for December is only a partial reason for the increased interest of governments, policy experts and, albeit to a lesser extent, media in the relatively little known EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The main drivers of the discourse have been changes in the European strategic neighbourhood, making urgent the question of Europe’s current and future capacity to respond to crises developing on its doorstep.
Indeed, in 2013 there has been plenty of turmoil near Europe. The use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war triggered mounting U.S. pressure of military intervention against the Assad regime, which was eventually halted by a last minute Russian-American accord to secure the weapons. In Mali, a robust French military intervention force was needed to push Islamic extremists out of the north of the country, where they had begun to create a safe haven for terror and other violent acts, resembling that of pre-2001 Afghanistan. Also, a military coup shook Egypt, leading to a new wave of street violence and putting into question the democratic future of the country. Meanwhile, Libya fell into chaos, marked by regular clashes between clans and the failure of the central government to extend its power to territories other than around Tripoli.
The somewhat less turbulent Eastern neighbourhood of Europe witnessed, however, the further strengthening of authoritarian regimes and, at the same time, a deterioration of prospects for solving Europe’s remaining frozen conflicts, as well as a growth in military power. Farther, but directly tied to Europe in many ways, the prospects for a governable Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces, planned for 2014, have gradually faded. At the same time, Europeans have fallen deeper into a vicious cycle of cuts in defence budgets following the withdrawal of military assets. The development in common of military capabilities, nicknamed “pooling and sharing” or “smart defence,” was meant to be an answer to austerity but has not lived up to their high hopes. Since the launch of both initiatives in 2011/2, only some initial steps have been taken to generate savings from joint training or maintenance of assets, while no significant joint arms procurement/development project has been started, if any at all. The yawning gaps in Europe’s military posture–such as midair refuelling, precision guided munitions, strategic airlift, drones, and advanced intelligence systems–have only widened as the next batches of weapons were withdrawn from service due to the end of their lifecycles (e.g., British Harrier jets) or unbearable costs (e.g., Germany’s failed UAV project).
To make matters worse, the debate on Europe’s strategic interests, goals and tools it wants to employ to pursue them, as well as the overall vision of the Old Continent’s role in international security policy, has been stuck for years. A clear victim of the strategic stalemate is precisely CSDP. Meant to be the ultimate tool to give the EU a long-awaited, U.S.-independent foothold in global security and defence policy, it is only halfway there. The impressive record of almost 30 peace-and-stabilisation operations launched by the EU since 2003 in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and even Asia, has heavily contrasted with the unwillingness to solve the structural flaws of CSDP. These flaws include the lack of a genuine command-and-control system, limited advance-planning mechanisms, insufficient inter-institutional coordination and, last but not least, the EU Member States’ failure to implement or even seriously discuss the novel and ambitious provisions of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, though designed and adopted by the very same states to boost capacity in security and defence (such as Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence, or PESCO). In other words, Europeans’ willingness and capability to militarily respond to crises has shrunk at a time of increasing challenges to its security and amidst worsening economic conditions. It is a pretty grim picture, and the 2013 European Council on Defence is not expected to change it. It was a popular assumption that out of the three “baskets” of issues to be debated in Brussels by the EU heads of state and government, the defence industry would be the most important because it was relatively less controversial (the others are CSDP institutions and capabilities). Something, however, has changed.
The preparation period created an unexpected snowball effect. Experts, who used the opportunity to once again point out the EU’s deficiencies in regards to its security and defence standing, as well as European governments have started to openly discuss the CSDP’s problems. A number of more or less ambitious non-papers and position reports have been presented by key EU players–both Member States and EEAS officials–over the course of the year–all of them vocally acknowledging the CSDP’s weaknesses and arguing that without stronger military teeth, the Union will not be ready to safeguard its global interests. Further, the Council meeting has come to be portrayed as a discussion on the state of European defence rather than on CSDP itself, putting overall defence issues such as relations with NATO and the partnership with the U.S. on the plate of the European Union for the first time ever.
Consequently, just a few weeks before the European Council session, expectations are higher than they were a year ago. Nonetheless, no one should assume that the EU heads of states and government will agree to breakthrough changes in CSDP or give new impetus to European defence. No, the Council will rather start a process to address core weaknesses in EU military affairs (and broadly speaking, Europe), like the lack of upto-date strategic guidance, flawed structures and processes governing CSDP, and insufficient EU-NATO cooperation. If it is a good beginning, creating a blueprint of tangible results which could materialise in a few years. Let’s hope this is the case as future crises will not wait until Europe fixes its tools and effectively addresses their shortcomings.
With that in mind, I would like to invite you to explore this special volume of the Polish Quarterly of International Affairs. It presents articles on key issues likely to be debated during the December 2013 European Council session. Written by excellent authors who boast a number of academic and policy papers regarding European defence and CSDP, these essays aim to give an overview of the key challenges for the EU in the security and defence policy domain. As the twists and turns of international security and defence policy, and specifically CSDP, make it easy for anyone to become lost in the minutia, I hope that the volume of the PQ you are holding in your hands can serve as a roadmap, helping you to better understand these complicated, and at the same time, fundamental issues. Enjoy!
CSDP: Is There a Next Chapter?
In the sometimes chaotic journey towards the creation of European defence, the Franco-British summit in Saint Malo on 4 December 1998 gave birth to the modern vision of European defence and led to the establishment of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) at the Cologne European Council in 1999, demonstrating the dynamic between bilateral and multilateral processes.
This shared vision emerged in light of the failures of Europe in the Bosnian crisis, and of Euro-American differences on the issue. This view was echoed by all the Member States of the European Union at the Koln European Council, which formally established the ESDP and marked the transfer to the EU of the military powers vested in the late Western European Union (WEU).
Fifteen years later, it is interesting to undergo a critical assessment of this process. Amongst commentators, it is fashionable to highlight the persistent military weakness of the European Union by comparison with the United States or NATO, ignoring the progress achieved since 1999. This paper will attempt to examine the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), a difficult, often slow and undoubtedly incomplete process, before examining possible ways forward to strengthen CSDP credibility as the EU prepares for the December 2013 Defence Council.
Establishing ESDP/CSDP was not an easy endeavour as the Member States do not share a common strategic culture, and have very different approaches to the use of force, the relationship to NATO or the relevance and importance of a military dimension for the EU and obviously have very different geographic focuses. Even then, CSDP very much appears to be a work in progress and the EU, at best, a teenager when it comes to defence issues, it is interesting to take stock of the progress achieved so far, which has turned the EU from a security consumer into a significant security producer.
Europe has finally become a military player. The process initiated in Saint Malo and concluded with the Lisbon Treaty has been primarily focused on the development of institutional tools to give the EU the means to act. It would be fastidious to enter here into a comprehensive description of the complex system established between 1999 and 2010, which brings together the High Representative and the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Political and Security Committee (PSC) enshrining the role of EU Member States in CFSP and CSDP, and the military dimension composed of the EU Military Committee (EUMC), composed of the Chiefs of Staff of the Member States or their representatives, which gives military advice to the PSC and EU Military Staff (EUMS), which provides expertise and military support. The European Defence Agency (EDA) is also established as a tool for capability development, research and development in the field of armaments and technology.
It should be noted that alongside the development of ESDP tools the EU-NATO “Berlin Plus” agreements were negotiated, which, since December 2002, allow the European Union to use the means of command of the Atlantic Alliance under the control of D-SACEUR. Since then, this formula has been used on regular basis in the Balkans (Operation Concordia in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in 2003-2005, Operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2004), but autonomous EU operations using national operational headquarters (OHQ) have been the preferred option used repeatedly since 2003. The debate remains open on the establishment of a more formal and permanent European OHQ, which currently exists only in embryonic form but which could expand in times of crisis, should the need arise.
Altogether, the EU has successfully developed the institutional tools for crisis management for both civilian and military crises. Further institutional developments appear unnecessary. Compared to the early years of ESDP, the EU now has the legal and political means to act whenever it chooses to do so.ESDP/CSDP Operations:
In an unexpected paradox, as the EU is often described as nonexistent in the military sphere, the EU has launched no fewer than 29 missions under the ESDP/CSDP label; this total includes mostly civilian or civilian-military operations, but also includes several significant military operations. Over the last decade, the EU has been engaged in the Balkans, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, the Caucasus, recently in the Sahel, and in the Indian Ocean.
These missions or operations have covered a very wide spectrum. Some involved a few dozen observers or police and civilian advisers (Aceh and Iraq). Others led to the deployment of several thousand soldiers (Bosnia and Chad).
Though most often they have been ground operations, the “Atalanta” antipiracy operation off the coast of Somalia marked the successful involvement of the EU in the naval field. They were launched independently with the use of the means of German, French or British national OHQs, or took advantage of Berlin Plus command arrangements established with NATO. Some were mounted in addition to or in support of UN missions (twice in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Mali), the African Union (Chad) or NATO (Kosovo and Afghanistan), sometimes on short notice in response to crises (Ituri in Congo or in Georgia), sometimes in a planned relay logic with NATO (Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina). They have involved almost all the countries of the European Union, and third countries were associated on a regular basis.
This extreme diversity demonstrates the wide spectrum of operations undertaken by the European Union since 2003 and the range of skills available, covering almost all the Petersberg tasks. The EU has through these operations acquired wide and concrete experience, only leaving aside high-intensity warfare. Whether the Europeans accept it or deny it, the EU has now become a security provider rather than a pure security consumer as the EC was during the Cold War days. Other organisations and regions, starting with the Balkans and Africa, turn to the EU to provide security. Moreover, the EU has established strong political legitimacy in military affairs based on the rule of law and effective multilateralism. Its engagements are therefore rarely criticized as illegitimate “Western interventionism.”
The long journey since 1998 should not lead one to forget that CSDP is still under construction. Three major challenges will determine the full implementation of the European defence project, these are key objectives for the next decade.
The Challenge of Military Credibility The EU must become more credible: its military capabilities fall short of its political-military ambitions and, as defence spending is declining almost everywhere in Europe, reversing this trend should become a priority. In the field of capabilities, the initiatives of the previous cycle (1998-2013) have not borne fruit.
The objective of providing the European Union with “credible military forces” has been stated repeatedly since 1998. In 1999, the Helsinki European Council expressed a clear goal: the EU should be able to deploy 60,000 troops within 60 days for a period of one year (Helsinki Headline Goal). Following the establishment of this Headline Goal (HG), a catalogue of capabilities revealed weaknesses in 64 areas to which, in most cases, no satisfactory answer has been provided despite two complementary initiatives aimed at strengthening capabilities.
In order to mobilise EU States to achieve these capability objectives, the European Defence Agency (EDA) was created, though it has not yet achieved the expected results given the lack of a real commitment on the part of the Member States. The launch of the Battlegroup 1500 concept (BG 1500 or EU Battlegroups), launched in June 2004, was also aimed at strengthening the capacity for an immediate response from the EU by establishing rapid reaction forces of 1,500 personnel permanently available, on rotation, to respond to crises. Unfortunately no battlegroup has been deployed in almost 10 years, casting doubts about the usefulness of such a concept of high readiness standby forces. This is all the more unfortunate as there have been several missed opportunities to deploy them, as a couple recent cases demonstrate. A Battlegroup could have been deployed in Mali not so much to fight alongside the French forces but to secure Bamako airport and facilitate the early arrival of the African force. Informal calls by the UN to deploy a European force in Congo (DRC) are just another example of the potential for deployment not followed by action.
Despite all these efforts, and almost 15 years after Helsinki and 10 years after the adoption of a revised version, the initial capability goal has not been reached. Of 1.6 million European soldiers, only 20% are considered deployable and only a few thousand are actually engaged in operations that range from national or EU to NATO or UN missions. In the recent past, much of this effort is borne by seven countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Poland), which have deployed up to several thousand soldiers, while 21 other Member States have never deployed more than a few hundred soldiers. Moreover, after Iraq and as large deployments in Afghanistan come to an end, the actual number of troops deployed abroad is declining as European governments seem increasingly reluctant to send them abroad.
Contrary to popular belief, the question is not strictly financial. While it is important to avoid a continuous decline, year after year, in European defence budgets, Europe’s total defence spending still equalled €194 billion in 2012, second only to the United States. In practice, European forces remain too often the armies of the Cold War, dedicated to territorial defence and not to modern projection capabilities. Less than 15% of the money spent is used for the acquisition of modern weaponry, and effort is only rarely focused on priority capabilities and even more rarely on joint development programmes.
For all these reasons, the European Union adopted at the last EU Defence Council in 2008 a “Plan for capabilities development,” including several concrete initiatives. The Council also reaffirmed the precise level of military ambition of the Union:
“Europe should actually be capable in the years to come, in the level of ambition, including deployment of 60,000 men within 60 days for a major operation in the range of operations envisaged in the Headline Goal 2010 and the Civilian Headline Goal 2010, planning and conducting simultaneously:
– two major stabilisation and reconstruction [missions], with a suitable civilian component, supported by a maximum of 10,000 men for at least two years;
– two fast operations of limited duration using, inter alia, the EU Battlegroups response;
– an emergency evacuation operation of European nationals (in less than 10 days), taking into account the primary role of each Member State towards its citizens and using the consular lead State concept;
– a supervisory sea or air interdiction;
– a civilian-military humanitarian assistance operation lasting up to 90 days;
– a dozen ESDP civilian missions (inter alia police, rule of law, civil administration, civil protection, security sector reform and observation missions) of varying formats, including rapid reaction situation, including a major mission (possibly up to 3,000 experts) which could last several years.”
This EU ambition was based on the experience of past or current operations and covered a wide and more accurate range of scenarios that went beyond the framework of the missions in the Balkans, which had presided over the development of Helsinki Headline Goals. The lack of progress since 2008 points at two major difficulties to move from commitments to action: strengthening the defence effort while the EU average stands close to 1% of GDP and reduce disparities between European countries. Bearing in mind that France and the United Kingdom account for close to half of EU defence spending, we measure how these differences are important. This raises the question, however, of deepening cooperation amongst smaller groups of like-minded, which has been the major development since 2008 as if many countries no longer relied on EU cooperation mechanisms.
The challenge of EU visibility. CSDP should be more visible. EU action is often not known when other organisations, such as NATO, communicate much better, as if EU leadership was somehow embarrassed of the military dimension of its external action. Paradoxically, the European Union has become a military actor without the Europeans being fully aware of it. This is due to a variety of reasons.
First, the reluctance of EU institutions and some Member State governments to admit to the public they participate in a political project with a military dimension leads them to prefer adopting a sort of low profile, and to highlight civil or humanitarian missions while remaining reluctant to admit that a given EU mission is a military operation comprising an element ofrisk.
Second, when the rotating presidencies traditionally reduced the EU visibility, the post-Lisbon organisation and leadership appeared reluctant to raise the EU flag and push for new commitments with only a handful of new missions compared to the 2003-2008 period.
Finally, and unlike other organisations such as NATO or the UN, CSDP has not developed the right communication tools adapted to this new EU role (spokesperson, website, etc.). In the absence of a clear message coming from Brussels, CSDP remains for most media and the public an awkward institutional object, unable to deliver. This reluctance to push forward CSDP and develop it further is all the more strange that Europeans largely support the European defence project as polls demonstrate year after year.
As European leaders prepare the December 2013 Defence Council, they need to imagine the next chapter of European Defence that goes beyond CSDP, strictly speaking. The role played by the European Commission in the preparatory process is in this context most important. In order to achieve success and offer a next chapter to the establishment of the EU as a full-fledged strategic player several files need to be addressed urgently.
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