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6. The military and security dimensions of the European Union



I. Introduction

II. Crisis management capabilities

III. Crisis management development

IV. EU crisis management missions

V. Pursuing the EU–NATO arrangement

VI. Towards an EU defence policy

VII. The ESDP and terrorism

VIII. Russia and the ESDP

IX. Conclusions


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The European Union continues to pursue its 1999 Helsinki Headline Goal of making the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) fully operational. During 2002, member states made progress towards enabling the EU to carry out its Petersburg tasks by the end of 2003. However, institutional and procedural accomplishments notwithstanding, headway in improving the EU’s military capabilities has been only moderate. It is impeded by, among other things, the lack of answers to the strategic questions of what the rationale for the ESDP is and what the real needs of the Union in the security field are.


The deadlock over EU access to NATO assets was overcome at the end of 2002. However, EU forces were not deployed for crisis management tasks in 2002. In the civilian field the EU made remarkable progress, crowned with the launch of the European Union Police Mission (EUPM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 1 January 2003.


Prospects for significant increases in military expenditure are slim (except in France and the UK). Other solutions, national and multinational, to the problem of capacity shortfalls, and ways to use existing resources better, are therefore being considered and pursued. The launch of the European Capabilities Plan gave a boost to rationalization, flexibility and coordination in member states’ efforts in the run-up to the EU Conference on Military Capabilities in May 2003. One prominent idea that is gaining support from France, Germany and the UK is that of creating an intergovernmental defence capability development body, which may eventually lead to a common procurement programme. This would make it easier to depart gradually from the long-standing EU ban on using EU financial resources for defence purposes.


EU efforts in the civilian arena proved to be most successful in the police field, where it attained its objectives ahead of time. The other priority areas—the rule of law, civilian administration and civil protection—also met their specific targets by the end of 2002, although progress was slower. The main challenges for civilian capabilities are the coordination of disparate capabilities and the creation of common EU planning and mission support capacities.


More worrying is the fact that the two ESDP tracks—military and civilian—seem to be taking separate courses rather than pursuing increased compatibility. Agreement on a comprehensive concept of coordination between the military and the civil dimensions of the ESDP is necessary if the EU’s potential is to be used to the full. Lack of agreement may also adversely affect the suggested adaptation of the Petersburg tasks to include combating terrorism.


The European Convention, started in February 2002, encouraged EU member states (and prospective members) to begin a debate and produce innovative ideas on security and defence issues that go beyond the original Helsinki Headline Goal of 1999. Two initiatives seemed especially pertinent to the consolidation of the ESDP in a new strategic environment—the principle of ‘solidarity’, and the invoking of the ‘enhanced cooperation’ clause to allow more ambitious material or doctrinal advances by groups of like-minded states. The latter initiative, aimed at moving away from the requirement for unanimity in security and defence matters, would help to make EU responses more flexible and efficient, but would also run the risk of creating political divisions within the Union. All this re-emphasizes the need for a clear definition of interests in the sphere of EU foreign, security and defence policy.


At the end of 2002, the major obstacles to launching a first crisis management operation had been overcome. However, the military crisis management operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will not be fully ‘European’ because it remains dependent on NATO assets and planning.


Quite apart from the current problems, in preparing for its next major enlargement, in May 2004, the European Union is likely to face both a weakening of its political capacity and an even further deepening of its diversity. These challenges will need careful examination and appropriate decisions where the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the ESDP are concerned, both during the run-up to and after completion of enlargement.



Dr Renata Dwan (Ireland) is the Leader of the SIPRI Project on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution. Previously, she was Deputy Director of the EastWest Institute (EWI) European Security Programme at the EWI Budapest Centre. She was Hedley Bull Junior Research Fellow in International Relations at the University of Oxford. Her recent publications include the edited volume Building Security in the New States of Eurasia: Subregional Cooperation in the Former Soviet Space (M. E. Sharpe, 2000) and, for SIPRI, Preventing Violent Conflict: The Search for Political Will, Strategies and Effective Tools (2000) and SIPRI Research Report no. 16, Executive Policing: Enforcing the Law in Peace Operations (2002). She is currently on leave from SIPRI to serve as a Special Adviser to the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.


Dr Zdzislaw Lachowski (Poland) is Leader of the SIPRI Project on Conventional Arms Control. He formerly worked at the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw. He has published extensively on the problems of European military security and arms control as well as on European politico-military integration. He is the author of The Adapted CFE Treaty and the Admission of the Baltic States to NATO (SIPRI Policy Paper, 2002) and has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 1992.