A more coherent security and defence actor? The LisbonTreaty and its impact

The Lisbon Treaty was designed to push CSDP into the next gear, represented by a change in name from ESDP to CSDP, and offered the EU several new or updated features in its security and defence portfolio. First, the Lisbon Treaty introduced a solidarity clause linked to terrorist activities. Second, it created Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence (PESCO) as outlined in Box 6.2. Third, the Treaty seeks to establish a European defence industry to promote European armaments manufacturing as an economic stimulus and independent strategic capability. The EDA already had a role to promote collaboration across European defence industries, but the Lisbon Treaty was to take this to the next level. Finally, two interconnected innovations were introduced: the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the EEAS, with the former heading up the latter, in addition to becoming one of the Vice Presidents of the Commission.

CSDP was an attempt to bring defence and security policies under the mandate of the Union and less to each and every state, with the aim of making decision making and planning more efficient and effective. The EEAS was critical in this respect, as it represented the creation of the EU’s diplomatic service. The Lisbon Treaty provided no guidelines regarding how the institution should be created or the tasks it would perform. This fell to the first High Representative (HR), Baroness Catherine Ashton. The EEAS was created from the Council Secretariat’s Directorate General (DG) External and Politico-Military, the Commission’s DG Relex and elements of DG Development, as well as seconded member state personnel. Hence, the idea was to combine all the EU’s external relations into one organisation. However, elements remained in the Commission (e.g., trade, aid, the

European Neighbourhood Policy and enlargement) that questioned how far the EU could combine its foreign policy instruments to provide for a coherent and consistent foreign policy founded on a comprehensive approach.

Indeed, criticism of the EEAS’s ability is widespread; not least in respect to the EEAS’s relations with the Commission. The second issue relates to the idea of the creation of an esprit de corps within an institution that has officials coming from three different backgrounds. This has resulted in organisational and cultural clashes (Davis Cross, 2011, p. 454; Vanhoonaker and Pomorska, 2013). Finally, the question remains as to how far the EEAS can become its own autonomous actor (Furness, 2013). Batora (2013, p. 606) points to the EEAS’s role in ‘political engagement, development assistance and civil and military crisis management’ with mixed results as the EU’s delayed response to the Arab Spring highlights. The idea of the EEAS as a civilising force reflected Ashton’s perspective on foreign affairs (Vanhoonaker and Pomorska, 2013). This fits into the idea of normative power and goes some way to understanding Ashton’s sidelining of CSDP while HR. Indeed, CSDP stalled in the years following the Lisbon Treaty, despite the promise of a coordinated EU foreign policy.

However, part of the stalling within CSDP did not just relate to the issues highlighted above. While the Treaty eliminated the pillar system, it failed to bring security and defence policy into line with other EU law. Hence, CSDP remained a primarily intergovernmental policy area which effectively left CSDP open to heavy influence by those states that make the most contribution to Europe’s combined military forces, namely France, UK, Italy and Germany. The UK’s support had declined significantly since 2004. Meanwhile, France’s enthusiasm had also waned due to frustration regarding the lack of progress in the area of defence. Additionally, in areas such as counter-terrorism, where more integration is necessary, this already happens predominantly outside of CSDP in the area of Justice and Home Affairs. Finally, the EU’s ability to establish a defence industry does not begin without healthy collaboration between member-state companies (Mawdsley, 2003, 2008). Multinational collaboration within the EU has failed to gain much ground and the Lisbon Treaty could be seen more for making a gesture to local economies dependent on armaments manufacturing than laying the grounds for greater collaboration. The Lisbon Treaty did not mark a step change in security and defence policy although it laid the ground work for this to happen should the political will ever exist.

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