Monday 30 March 2009

EU Council tasks: Security & defence policy CSDP

The European Union’s common security and defence policy (CSDP) is an integral part of its common foreign and security policy (CFSP). At this stage of development, it is geared towards humanitarian, peace and crisis management missions drawing on both civilian and military assets (Petersberg tasks).

The Treaty of Lisbon envisions the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy, leading to a common defence.

The intergovernmental CSDP respects a) the ‘specific character’ of the security and defence policy of ‘certain member states’ (non-aligned, neutral) and b) the obligations of the vast majority which are NATO members.

We look at the Council’s CSDP tasks in the light of the Lisbon Treaty, with the relevant provisions located in the amended Treaty on European Union (TEU).


Defining objectives

The Council of the European Union defines the objectives for the implementation of the CSDP, assisted by the European Defence Agency (EDA)(OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115):

Article 42(3) TEU

3. Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy, to contribute to the objectives defined by the Council. Those Member States which together establish multinational forces may also make them available to the common security and defence policy.

Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. The Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments (hereinafter referred to as ‘the European Defence Agency’) shall 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 capabilities.



The CSDP decisions are adopted unanimously by the Council:

4. Decisions relating to the common security and defence policy, including those initiating a mission as referred to in this Article, shall be adopted by the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or an initiative from a Member State. The High Representative may propose the use of both national resources and Union instruments, together with the Commission where appropriate.


Delegation of tasks

The Council can delegate the execution of tasks (a mission) to a group of member states (Article 42(5) TEU), with the willing and able keeping the Council informed. If the decision needs to be changed, it is dealt with by the Council, as provided in Article 44 TEU.


Implementation and scope

According to the second paragraph of Article 43 TEU, the Council adopts the decisions relating to the extended Petersberg tasks, listed in paragraph 1:

Article 43 TEU

1. The tasks referred to in Article 42(1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means, shall include joint 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 territories.

2. The Council shall adopt decisions relating to the tasks referred to in paragraph 1, defining their objectives and scope and the general conditions for their implementation. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, acting under the authority of the Council and in close and constant contact with the Political and Security Committee, shall ensure coordination of the civilian and military aspects of such tasks.


European Defence Agency

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is intergovernmental, ‘subject to the authority of the Council’ (Article 45 TEU). The EDA’s statute, seat and operational rules are adopted by the Council by a qualified majority.


Permanent structured cooperation

According to Article 46 TEU, the Council adopts, by qualified majority, the decision establishing permanent structured cooperation (akin to enhanced cooperation in other policy areas) between member states, which fulfil the criteria and made the commitments on military capabilities in accordance with Protocol No. 10.

Decisions concerning later entrants are decided by the participating states.

Permanent structured cooperation is one of the questions in need of preparatory work, public discussion and implementing decisions, if the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force.


Council configurations

The current Council configuration, the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC), already meets separately for its two main areas of activity. The Lisbon Treaty would separate the configurations, and the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) would carry on with the whole of the European Union's external action, namely common foreign and security policy, European security and defence policy, foreign trade, development cooperation and humanitarian aid. (Cf. current Council’s Rules of Procedure and Lisbon Article 16(6) TEU.)

The Defence Ministers of the EU member states convene in connection with GAERC meetings and for separate informal meetings. The latest informal meeting was held in Prague on 12 to 13 March 2009.

The Council is assisted by the Political and Security Committee (known as PSC or COPS), which monitors the international situation, delivers opinions and can be authorised to direct crisis management operations (Article 38 TEU).

The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) is the highest military body set up within the Council. It is composed of the Chiefs of Defence of the Member States, who are regularly represented by their permanent military representatives. The EUMC provides the PSC with advice and recommendations on all military matters within the EU.


European Parliament

Being on the sidelines of the intergovernmental CSDP does not prevent the European Parliament from showing a keen interest in The European Security Strategy and ESDP, as witnessed by the 19 February 2009 EP Resolution P6_TA-PROV(2009)0075, based on an own-initiative report by the Committee on Foreign Affairs:

The European Parliament sees the need for a common defence policy in Europe requiring an integrated European Armed Force which consequently needs to be equipped with common weapon systems so as to guarantee commonality and interoperability.

In addition, the EP Resolution offers an updated overview on the latest proposals and current shortcomings of the EU’s security and defence policy.

Ralf Grahn

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