The creation and initial development of CSDP

The EU’s role in defence and security is a recent ‘competence’, in the language of the EU treaties. Indeed the failure of the Pleven Plan in 1954, which would have established a European Defence Community, ensured that security and defence was not placed on the EU agenda until the 1990s (see Chapter 2). The EU had begun to take on a more formal political role following the advent of European Political Cooperation in 1970, which had the aim of coordinating member states’ foreign policies. This was subsequently institutionalised into the Single Europe Act (1986). However, as will be outlined below, the EU focus on foreign affairs became far more prominent following the end of the Cold War and the subsequent changes in the European security environment. Hence, the Maastricht (1992), Amsterdam (1997), and Nice (2001) Treaties and the Cologne and Helsinki Summits (1999) all pushed forward security and, subsequently, defence within the EU, set against a background of the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and Central and Eastern European enlargement (see Chapter 2).

While the completion of economic and monetary union had been on the EU’s agenda in the late 1980s, the end of the Cold War placed constitutional and political elements there, too. In particular, there were fears in the UK and France concerning the reunification of Germany, including whether Germany would acquire a greater military capability and desire to use it.

Hence, the Maastricht Treaty was partly about tying Germany further into the EU. None the less, the lack of agreement concerning whether the EU should have a defence element remained, particularly as this was dealt with through NATO and the WEU (see Chapter 2). Although the Maastricht Treaty included a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), it also referred to ‘the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence’ (Maastricht Treaty, 1992, p. 8). Hence, the question remains, why did the previously contested area of defence suddenly become acceptable at the end of the 1990s?

The answer lies in a number of interconnected external and internal catalysts. First, it was evident that the creation of CFSP did little to help EU member states to formulate an effective response to the collapse of the former Yugoslavia (see Chapter 2). Once again the EU had to rely on the USA to provide for European security. However, the USA had a diminishing interest in playing a defence role in Europe, following the demise of the USSR. This was emphasised by the USA’s calls for Europe to take up its share of the burden in defence and was intertwined with the EU’s expanding international role following the completion of the single market (Chappell, 2012, p. 69). However, the defining moment was the election of a Labour government, led by Tony Blair, in the UK in 1997. As an Atlanticist country with close ties to the USA, the UK took note of the USA’s burden-sharing calls and, thus, moved to increase this as a way of strengthening the alliance, particularly in the wake of Europe’s ineptitude in the Balkans. Additionally, with the UK not involved in the EMU, security and defence was an area where the UK could demonstrate leadership. This latter argument was also important for France. Not only was defence an area where France, too, could provide leadership, but it also supported the ability of the EU to have an independent capacity to deploy force.

Hence, at the Franco-British St Malo summit in 1998, both countries proposed the creation of a common security and defence policy. The St Malo declaration stated that ‘the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises’ (Rutten, 2001, p. 8). The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), which would subsequently be renamed CSDP in the Lisbon Treaty, was set up to complement, rather than compete with, NATO. This highlighted a compromise for Europeanist France. At the Cologne European Council in 1999, member states agreed that CSDP would be integrated into the EU. For the first time, the world could foresee EU peacekeeping operations, comprising member-states from across the Union (although Denmark has an opt-out from CSDP).

The initial steps involved in creating CSDP incorporated two elements. The first was an institutional structure that was integrated into the Council of the Ministers. This comprised a Political and Security Committee (PSC), which would bring together member state ambassadors, an EU Military Council (EUMC), including member states’ chiefs of staff and the EU Military Staff (EUMS), incorporating military experts. Finally, Javier Solana was made High Representative of CFSP. However, adding additional institutions made decision making in EU external affairs more complex, particularly taking into account the role of the Commission in CFSP, which included aid, trade and diplomacy. Arising from a critique by Chris Patten, then European Commissioner for External Relations, Missiroli (2001) examines the substance of CSDP through the prisms of ‘consistency’ and ‘coherence’. The argument surrounding CSDP is that the planning and operations procedures suffered from both inconsistency and incoherence. As Missiroli points out (2001, p. 182), there is a difference between the two concepts legally and practically. Where consistency is ordinarily meant in terms of a lack of contradictions, coherence denotes a level of integration. Practically, this means that a set of policies can either be or not be consistent but they can be varying degrees of coherent. This argument was central to the decision to create the EU External Action Service (EEAS) as part of the Lisbon Treaty, as highlighted below.

The second step was achieved at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999, where the EU agreed ‘Headline Goals’ set out to establish an autonomous (non-NATO) capacity to engage in conflict prevention and crisis management through military operations. The agreement allowed for the establishment of an EU Rapid Reaction Force of 60,000 troops deployable in 60 days. None the less, troops remained under the responsibility of the EU’s member states and could be used for all operations, not just those conducted by the EU. The Treaty of Nice (2001) brought CSDP formally into the EU in addition to integrating the WEU into the policy. The latter included the Petersberg Tasks, the Institute for Security Studies and the Satellite Centre. The EU was now in a position to project power at home and abroad.

Yet, CSDP remained for a long time a set of strategic policies on paper and in the heads of bureaucrats in Brussels. While the EU had institutionalised CSDP within its governance structures prior to the Lisbon Treaty, it suffered from a capabilities perspective, coined in Hill’s (1993) capabilities-expectations gap. Hill’s conceptualisation encapsulated the idea that there was a gap between what was expected of the EU as a security actor and the capabilities it had available to meet those expectations. While Hill coined the phrase in the early 1990s in the context of the Balkan wars, it became no less relevant with the creation of CSDP. Although CSDP had increased expectations, capabilities, particularly military ones, trailed behind. Hence, the original impetus for creating CSDP, which aligns with the security in power argument presented in the previous section, was missing.

Part of the issue was that the primary defence rationale behind the UK's and France’s decision to set up CSDP was not reflected in how other member states viewed security. For the Nordic countries, particularly Finland and Sweden, focus should be placed on the civilian dimension. As Rummel (2011, p. 617) underlines, ‘in their analysis, the EU was confronted with intervention cases of a kind that mostly demanded civilian expertise and support, a conclusion which was inspired by the August 2000 Brahimi Report of the UN’. Hence, following its military equivalent, the civilian headline goal was created in 2000, which listed policing, the rule of law, civil protection and civil administration as key priority areas. Even so, the civilian dimension was an afterthought at the outset of CSDP.

Operationalising CSDP pre-Lisbon: strategy and deployments

It is important to see how CSDP went from paper to actual missions and operations. The first of these were the EU Police Mission (EUPM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Operation

Concordia in North Macedonia in 2003, although the EU had been playing a post-conflict role in Bosnia and Kosovo prior to this. Operation Concordia was deployed following increased ethnic tension between the Slavic majority and Albanian minority. Furthermore, under the remit of the 'Berlin Plus’ agreement, which had been agreed between the EU and NATO in 2002, Operation Concordia used assets belonging to NATO. The EU quickly followed up this operation with Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Knutsen (2009, p. 448) states, Operation Artemis was important because ‘it was the first autonomous EU military operation taking place outside Europe and was not based upon common NATO assets and capabilities’. Since then, the EU has conducted 35 military operations and civilian missions, of which only 12 have been military operations. According to Menon (2009, p. 244), ‘it is undeniable that the majority of these interventions have had a beneficial - if limited - impact. The sheer number of requests coming in for the deployment of EU missions bears eloquent testimony to this impact’. Menon’s central argument is that CSDP has come far in a very short time, although challenges remain. In particular, the majority of the civilian missions are very small, with fewer than 100 personnel, while some of the military operations have suffered from equipment shortfalls and member state caveats which have curtailed where their armed forces are deployed and how long they are deployed for, affecting the length of the operation (e.g., EUFOR RD Congo and EUFOR Tchad/RCA) (see also Chapter 8).

While military operations and civilian missions began to be deployed in 2003, the EU lacked a document which specified what the EU’s security position was, including threat perceptions, security objectives and the tools to meet them. This became significant in 2003 with the Iraq War and the division between the then US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘old’ Europe and ‘new’ Europe. Rumsfeld had categorised Europe into these two camps, based on whether or not they supported the USA’s intervention in Iraq. The former incorporated largely Europeanist countries, such as France and Germany, who refused to intervene in Iraq, while the latter included Atlanticist countries such as the central and Eastern European candidate countries that supported the USA. The USA had also produced a security strategy in 2002. Hence, there was a need to give the EU strategic direction and highlight where there was agreement between EU member states in security and defence.

The European Security Strategy (ESS) starts with one of the EU’s key formative roles; ‘successive enlargements are making a reality of the vision of a united and peaceful continent’ (European Council, 2003, p. 1). Indeed, the EU as a peace project is the foundation of a European strategic culture (Norheim-Martinsen, 2011, p. 517). However, in the ‘Global Challenges’ section of the Strategy, the EU lays out its security concerns, all of which point to outside the EU and predominantly outside Europe. For instance, development, resources, health and their link to conflict and Europe’s security is at the heart of the challenges. In as much as the EU attempted to distance itself from the USA, the Strategy lists its security concerns much in the same fashion as the US National Security Strategy had done previously. These include terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, state failure and organised crime. Of these, only organised crime is referenced to Europe itself (European Council, 2003, p. 4).

Beyond this, two themes are highlighted. They are ‘effective multilateralism’ and Europe’s neighbourhood. The first theme concentrated on the inherent nature of Europe towards cooperation and deliberation and away from the USA, seen as a unilateralist actor. More than this though, the statement sets out the EU’s consideration for other international and regional organisations, such as the UN and WTO as well as the OSCE, Council of Europe, ASEAN and Mercosur. The second theme accompanied the European Neighbourhood Policy of the same year that attempted to set out a post-enlargement agenda for the ‘new outsiders’ beyond accession Europe. The focus in the Strategy is specifically the frozen conflicts and geo-politics of the former Soviet Union, as well as the threats of terrorism in the Middle East and the Maghreb. Finally, the strategy stipulates that the EU needs to be ‘more active’, including preventative engagement, ‘more capable' (including both civilian and military capabilities), ‘more coherent’, focusing on the EU’s different foreign policy instruments, and to work with partners (European Council, 2003, pp. 11-12). Overall, the Strategy has been criticised because it is only a partial strategy that does not link the ends of EU strategy with the means to achieve it (Biscop and Coelmont, 2010, p. 3). Rather, it is a declaration that states how Europe sees instability in the world and how the EU sees itself as part of the solution.

A number of initiatives were created to try to meet the call of a more active, capable and coherent EU. The Headline Goal 2010 introduced the EU Battlegroup Concept (see Box 6.1) and the European Defence Agency. The latter was created to ‘assist Member States' efforts to improve their military capabilities to sustain CSDP’ (European Council, 2004a, p. 12). Meanwhile, the civilian Headline Goal 2008, launched in 2004, specified six priority areas in civilian crisis management (European Council, 2004b). Following this, operations and missions were deployed spanning Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. However, the report on the implementation of the ESS in 2008 stated that ‘for our full potential to be realised we need to be still more capable, more coherent and more active’ (European Council, 2008, p. 2). The document included cyber security and piracy, reflecting the launch of EUNAVFOR Atalanta, the EU’s first naval military operation to deter piracy in the Gulf of Aden. It also articulates the EU’s normative underpinnings of human rights, human security and ensuring a combination of military and civilian tools. As Rummel (2011, p. 619) highlights, ‘the initial advocacy for a strong civilian ESDP component had moved on from a few pioneer member states ... to an EU-wide conceptual logic’. Considering the general failure of EU member states to generate additional military capabilities, particularly in the wake of the financial crisis, the question was how the EU was going to develop its CSDP.

Box 6.1 The EU Battlegroup concept

The EU Battlegroup concept was a UK-French idea that was formally launched as a UK, French and German initiative in 2004. A Battlegroup is formed of 1500 armed forces personnel and must be sustainable for 30 days with the possibility to extend this to 120 days. The timeframe for deployment is tight: 'the decision to deploy a Battlegroup should take place five days after the Council's agreement' with the operation commencing ten days after this (Major and Moiling, 2011, p. 11). Battlegroups can be unilateral or multilateral and are rotated every six months. Two Battlegroups are on standby during each six=month period. They have been at full operational capability since 2007; however, they have never been deployed. There are several reasons for this, including the size of a Battlegroup (EU operations have involved a greater number of troops), funding (the majority of military operations are funded through 'costs lie where they fall', that is, on the participating member states) and, most importantly, the lack of political willingness to deploy (see Chappell, 2012). The rotational nature of the Battlegroups means that it depends on whether any potential operation that comes up for discussion has the support of the countries that have Battlegroups on standby. None the less, the Battlegroups have facilitated armed forces reform in certain countries (e.g., Sweden and the Czech Republic) and have enhanced military cooperation and coordination, including training (Jacoby and Jones, 2008; Major and Moiling, 2011). Discussions on making the Battlegroups more usable occurred under the Swedish (2009) and Polish (2011) presidencies and more recently within discussions following the creation of the EU Global Strategy.

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