European Security and Defence Policy: where do we go from here?
Secretary-General of the European Security and Defence Assembly (Assembly of WEU)
14th annual EURODEFENSE conference,
27 September 2008, Presentation no. 1 (11.00-11.30), followed by a discussion (11.30-12.00)
I am full of admiration for the way in which EURODEFENSE
works. Its network of associations is active throughout
European security and defence: the state of play
On 4 December 1998 at the Franco-British Summit
Six months later, at its Cologne Summit on 3 and 4
June 1999, the European Council decided to give the
Successive European Councils have streamlined the objectives of EU crisis-management missions and the ways and means of achieving them. The result is a European doctrine based on a combined military and civil approach to crisis management.
What the European countries have achieved together is
undoubtedly worthwhile. Since 2003, the European Union has carried out some 21
operations in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and
While the ESDP can justifiably be described as a
success story, there is no denying its
does not have means commensurate with the stated international ambitions of the
EU member states or with the expectations of
Should we not rather be using our standby units for
these operations? What is the point of defining headline goals if no use is made
of the resulting capabilities? Under the
Headline Goal (defined in 1999) the EU was to be able to deploy within 60
days and sustain for at least one year in the field military forces up to 50 to
60 000 strong â€“ precisely the size of the Eurocorps, yet so far the EU has
never used it!
2010 Headline Goal (defined in 2004) made provision for national,
bi-national or multinational combined arms rapid reaction forces some 1 500
strong and deployable within 10 days in an external theatre of operations for
up to 120 days. These â€œbattlegroupsâ€ would have been ideally suited to the two
operations in the DRC and
Furthermore, the 2003
European Security Strategy (ESS) needs to be amended in order to
take on board the latest geopolitical developments. On 14 December 2007, the
European Council deemed that the time had come to carry out a review of the ESS
adopted four years earlier, with a view to improving or supplementing it.
Indeed, although this Strategy is sound, it does have a number of gaps. For
example, it is not very explicit to say the least about the EUâ€™s relations with
NATO and with third countries. There are some major omissions, in particular as
regards the role of nuclear weapons and space in European security. In view of
new threats like terrorism and cybercrime, the revised ESS must be geared more to
the concept of security as a continuum between its external and internal aspects.
Other factors must also be taken into account: for example, the crucial
security challenges facing the Union in the neighbouring Mediterranean and
Black Sea regions and
Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing
the European Community was signed in
On 12 June 2008 all eyes in Europe were on
Assuming that the Lisbon Treaty is one day fully
ratified (with a second vote taking place in due time in
The European Council will have an elected President with a two and a half year mandate renewable once. What sort of European President do we want? The post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be created, merging the functions of the current High Representative for the CFSP/Secretary-General of WEU (Javier Solana) and the Commissioner for External Relations (Benita Ferrero-Waldner). A European External Action Service will also be set up.
Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty refers to â€œProvisions on the Common Security and Defence Policyâ€ (formerly the European Security and Defence Policy, ESDP) and will replace Article 17 of the Nice Treaty.
It confirms the intergovernmental character of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) which remains subject to specific rules and procedures, in particular the unanimity rule. However, in order to enable the EU to function efficiently, it will be necessary in other spheres of EU competence to replace the weighted vote established in Nice with a double majority voting system (meaning a majority of both countries and citizens).
The Lisbon Treaty contains a clause on mutual assistance in the event of armed aggression (Article 42.7). However, being neither non-binding nor automatic, it is not comparable to Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty or Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Moreover, it is stipulated that this clause â€œshall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member Statesâ€ and that â€œfor those States which are members of it, NATO remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.â€
The Lisbon Treaty confirms the role of the European Defence Agency â€œ in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armamentsâ€ and stipulates that it â€œshall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector, shall participate in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and shall assist the Council in evaluating the improvement of military capabilitiesâ€ (Article 42.3). However the Agencyâ€™s budget is still too small and we could surely be more imaginative in using the Agency â€“ develop it maybe as a coordinator for common training, whether for the European Security and Defence College for example or for forming pilots for the A400M or maybe for administrating the military Erasmus scheme proposed by HervÃ© MORIN.
The treaty makes provision for permanent structured cooperation (PSC) among member states whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria, with a view to the most demanding missions (Articles 42.6 and 46). It also provides for the possibility of entrusting missions to a group of states that are willing and have the requisite capabilities (Article 44). However the protocols appended to the treaty make it clear that such â€œstructured cooperationâ€ undertakings would be confined in reality to the efforts made by all countries in order to attain the 2010 Headline Goal approved by the EU member states. The recent non-paper on PSC by the Spanish MOD also emphasises training as a possible starter likely to evoke consensus in member states.
In view of the new threats to European security, the Lisbon Treaty makes provision for expanding the range of Petersberg missions in order to include â€œjoint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territoriesâ€ (Article 43).
Finally, member states will be bound by a
solidarity clause in the event of a
terrorist attack or natural disaster: â€œThe Union and its
However, the question of a common defence seems to be put off indefinitely: â€œThe 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 decidesâ€ (Article 42.2). However we are still a mighty long way from a European nuclear deterrent or indeed anything too muscular and the â€œdâ€ in ESDP is a very small one.
An unlikely European defence
As stressed in a recent article by Jean-Sylvestre MONGRENIER, Associated Fellow at the Thomas More Institute, â€œEuropean defence is not an historic necessityâ€. Institutional arrangements have their advantages but also their limitations. The European institutions are a means of putting cooperation between states on a permanent footing, facilitating decision-making and conducting the common policies agreed by states. However, institutions cannot make up for the lack of a common political will or for divergences of geopolitical views.
The prime function of defence policies is to ensure the protection of nations and of their territory. NATO and the EU are composed of sovereign states which own the military capabilities to be deployed in theatres of operation. Hence it is first and foremost at the national level, within each member state, that political battles have to be waged if we are to respond to the common challenges and promote defence efforts. It is therefore important to explain to European citizens what is at stake. In fact citizens are often bolder and more clearsighted than the political decision-makers with regard to these vital issues! All of us who specialise in the area of security and defence have a duty in this respect. EURODEFENSE is very well-placed to play a major role in this domain.
The European Security and Defence Assembly, of which I have the honour of being the Secretary-General, is composed, precisely, of national parliamentarians from European countries who have a particular interest in security and defence questions. Parliamentarians, as the peoplesâ€™ representatives, have the job of scrutinising everything that concerns the lives of their fellow citizens. That will not change with the Lisbon Treaty, quite the contrary! The members of the national parliaments will continue to vote defence budgets and take the decision to deploy troops on European or international missions. Our Assembly provides a forum for reflection and analysis in which national parliamentarians from European states, EU members and non-members alike, can share and debate their ideas concerning the ESDP. The Assembly, through its political recommendations, promotes greater European integration in the field of security and defence. It enables the members of the national parliaments of European countries to exercise interparliamentary scrutiny of the ESDP, which for the moment remains firmly in the intergovernmental sphere.
The transformation of the EU into a vast â€œpan-European
commonwealthâ€ [Cf. Jean-Sylvestre MONGRENIER] does not rule out a strengthening
of the ESDP, but does make it difficult to set up any European defence worthy
of the name. The aim of the ESDP is not the territorial defence of
Our civil-military capabilities must live up to our
political ambitions, which is why it is urgent for European governments to
develop mechanisms enabling them to more easily pool their resources (in
particular combat helicopters, strategic lift and space-based assets), as well
as to improve the effectiveness of their capabilities on the ground. It is
therefore necessary to draw up the principles for effective and complementary
cooperation between NATO and the ESDP, while making genuine means available for
a European defence. There is absolutely no point in inventing new concepts like
the Helsinki Headline Goal or the EU battlegroups â€“ which our military are
doing their best to put into practice â€“ then refusing to make use of the
resulting forces! In this area, a key proposal is the development within the
For reasons of critical mass, the future of European defence
will be played out de facto between