Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

A Strategy for CSDP Europe’s Ambitions as a Global Security Provider

Sven Biscop
Jo Coelmont
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2010
Published by: Egmont Institute
Pages: 31
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-4)
    Sven Biscop and Jo Coelmont

    The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty constitutes an important juncture for the EU, which merits a strategic reflection about the objectives and priorities of CSDP. When and where should the EU contribute, or even take the lead, in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and crisis management, with its full range of diplomatic, civilian and military instruments? That ought to be determined by a more complete European Security Strategy (ESS) – the grand strategy – that outlines the EU’s fundamental objective and its vital interests, by the foreign policy priorities flowing from that grand strategy, and by the EU’s specific...

  2. (pp. 5-8)

    The EU has not remained idle, witness the long list of past and present operations. But an assessment of CSDP operations so far will demonstrate that Gray’s strong argument for a clear strategy applies as much to the EU as to any other actor:

    “Defence planning needs to be based on political guidance, and that guidance should make its assumptions explicit. Sometimes we neglect this, and the oversight can prove costly. Conditions, which is to say contexts, can change, and so should the working assumptions behind policy. You can forget what your assumptions have been if you forgot to make...

  3. (pp. 9-12)

    Of course, decision-making on crisis management in general and on military operations in particular will always be to a significant extent ad hoc – that follows from the nature of crisis. It is evidently impossible – and indeed undesirable – to produce a rigid strategic framework that would contain the answer – to act or not to act – to every crisis with which the EU is confronted, especially when deploying the military may be required. What is possible though is to produce a strategic framework, a CSDP strategy that, starting from the EU’s vital interests, an analysis of the...

  4. (pp. 13-20)

    The building-blocks of a CSDP strategy can be gathered by putting together the EU’s ongoing and past operations with the focus of its foreign policy and with its vital interests: defence against any military threat to the territory of the Union; open lines of communication and trade; a secure supply of energy and other vital natural resources; a sustainable environment; manageable migration flows; the maintenance of international law and universally agreed rights; preserving the autonomy of the decision-making of the EU and its Member States. The following areas seem to be a logical set of priorities, in which the EU...

  5. (pp. 21-24)

    Next to the priorities and objectives, a second dimension of a CSDP strategy concerns the tasks or types of operations which the EU can undertake. For a long time, there were as many interpretations of the EU’s so-called Petersberg Tasks as there were Member States. And as decision-making on CSDP issues is by unanimity, the most narrow interpretation was always likely to win the day. In the Lisbon Treaty (Art. 43.1 TEU) Member States have now agreed on an extended definition of the Petersberg Tasks, stating that they:

    “[…] shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice...

  6. (pp. 25-26)

    Once objectives and priorities have been defined and the potential types of operations agreed, the EU must translate this into the scale of effort required to be successful. Quantitatively, CSDP is based on the Headline Goal (HG) adopted by the European Council in Helsinki in 1999. The aim is to be able to deploy up to an army corps (50 to 60,000 troops), together with air and maritime forces, plus the required command & control, strategic transport and other support services, within 60 days, and to sustain that effort for at least one year. That objective is quite ambitious: if rotation...

  7. (pp. 27-27)

    Today, military strategy is clearly the least developed dimension of the EU’s grand strategy. Nevertheless, the key elements of a CSDP strategy already exist. At the EU level, consensus on the types of operations and on the scale of the effort has grown considerably, and shared views on the objectives and priorities are developing. These building-blocks ought now to be combined in a CSDP strategy.

    True, at the Member State level there are differences between the national strategic cultures. Historically some Member States have less inhibitions to use the military instrument, others are more averse to any type of intervention...