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Research Report

EU cooperative threat reduction activities in Russia

Kathrin Höhl
Harald Müller
Annette Schaper
Edited by Burkard Schmitt
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2003
Pages: 68
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-8)
    Burkard Schmitt

    To strengthen the security structure of an erstwhile enemy, and a country that hard-nosed defence analysts and military planners - think of the last two US Nuclear Posture Reviews – still view as a potential threat, is quite an unorthodox and innovative way to address one’s own security concerns. Yet cooperative threat reduction (CTR) has become part and parcel of Western security policy. A considerable number of NATO and European Union (EU) member states are involved in this sort of activity, as is the EU itself, including its most genuinely European actor, the European Commission (EC).

    Examining the EU’s own...

  2. (pp. 9-15)

    Security and foreign policy were not initially part of the European integration project. However, nuclear non-proliferation was indirectly included in the Treaty of Rome by way of the EURATOM Treaty, which made it obligatory for all member states to submit civilian nuclear energy activities to EURATOM inspections. Beyond this particular rule, it was only after 1981 that a working group on non-proliferation was created within the framework of European Political Cooperation, a loose, informal, and largely arcane method of coordinating the foreign policies of member states.¹

    In 1986, the Single European Act (SEA) became the legal basis for intergovernmental cooperation...

  3. (pp. 16-20)

    Russia is of overriding importance in the foreign relations of all EU countries. However, member states’ geography, history and preferences differ, and therefore their political priorities may vary as well. Given the Russian inclination to play geopolitical games, this could lead to a widening gap in the approaches the EU member states take towards Russia, with detrimental consequences for the cohesion of CFSP and the European project as a whole. For this reason, it is wise to have a common framework that informs both EU policies and national policies of member states towards Russia.14

    The EU’s legal and institutional framework...

  4. (pp. 21-24)

    ‘The EC is the first organisation which rests on fully integrated, powerful and sovereign nation-states and yet has acquired an increasingly cohesive, flexible and corporate structure of its own.’31

    The budgetary procedures relating to CTR programmes of the EU vary, depending on whether the activities to be funded belong to the first or second pillar. Although the Commission is involved, the Council is the most important actor in the decision-making process as regards the projects and their budgets. Since this body works behind closed doors, external influence on its decisions is relatively limited.32 All the more important is the role...

  5. (pp. 25-34)

    The EU is the largest provider of economic and technical assistance to Russia: between 1991 and 2000, Russia received €2,281 billion in EU assistance. The bulk of this comes from the TACIS programme: between 1991 and 2001, €1,489 billion were allocated to Russia within the framework of the TACIS National Action Programmes (€90 million for 2002 and 2003).48 To that must be added approximately €890 million that Russia has received from TACIS regional programmes.49 For nuclear safety alone, TACIS committed almost 800 million between 1991 and 2001.50 In addition, the EU contributes to coordinated measures supported by other donors: the...

  6. (pp. 35-39)

    TACIS is categorised under the European Commission’s ‘multilateral programmes’, which means the Commission retains authority over planning and operation. Initially, the predominant criteria under which the projects were selected and shaped were (1) the needs of the recipient countries and (2) the interests of the European Union (as seen by the Commission). Over time, however, priorities have been reformulated, decision-making processes optimised, and structures improved. These changes are the result of a systematic evaluation process that involves the Commission, the Council, and the Parliament. The changes have been explicitly formulated and are now part of the standard operating procedures by...

  7. (pp. 40-43)

    The European Union is a unique phenomenon in world politics. The combination of intergovernmental cooperation and coordination with supranational elements creates decision-making processes that can at times be difficult and frustrating. Complex negotiations can result in agreements founded on the lowest common denominator, a preponderance of red tape, and general overregulation. That said, the process can also yield a series of distinct advantages in addressing problems such as those related to threat reduction.

    In describing these advantages, one has to make the distinction between those that derive from the EU as a whole and those that stem from the Commission...

  8. (pp. 44-49)

    Future EU efforts to support CTR in Russia will evolve within the framework of existing agreements. It is conceivable that the area of CTR will receive stronger emphasis in the coming years, particularly if the current Joint Action programmes are successful. However, what will certainly not happen is member states’ transference to the Commission of competencies that clearly belong to the realm of security and defence. Although Common Positions develop continuously under the second pillar and interests are increasingly formulated on a joint basis, ultimate authority and decision-making about budgetary questions will rest with the states. This puts limits on...

  9. (pp. 50-50)

    It appears that the main improvement needed for EU CTR assistance to Russia is, bluntly, more money. The framework is there, the organisation has proven its ability to do useful work, and the division of labour between the Commission and the member states, despite all the difficulties, has developed a positive synergy. Given the importance of the field for security, enhanced efforts - and that inevitably means enhanced funds - would be advisable.

    So far, EU funding has focused largely on nuclear safety, with a small amount provided for disarmament efforts through the Joint Action projects. Therefore, an expansion of...