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European Security and Defence College (ESDC)

The European Security and Defence College (ESDC) is a network of educational establishments responsible for providing training to civilian and military personnel in the field of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), promoting a common understanding of that policy and disseminating best practice in this area.


Council Joint Action 2008/550/CFSP of 23 June 2008 establishing a European Security and Defence College (ESDC) and repealing Joint Action 2005/575/CFSP.


The European Security and Defence College is organised as a network bringing together institutes, colleges, academies and universities dealing with security and defence policy issues, including the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS).

High-level training in the field of ESDP

The task of the ESDC is to provide training in the field of European Security and Defence Policy at the strategic level in order to promote a common understanding of the ESDP among civilian and military personnel and to disseminate best practice in this area.

ESDC training activities consist of three types of training: the High-Level Course, the Orientation Course and courses for specialised audiences or with specific focus.

All ESDC training activities are open to civilian or military personnel dealing with strategic aspects in the field of ESDP, nationals of all Member States, acceding countries, candidate countries and, where appropriate, third countries. Non-governmental organisations, academic institutions and the media, as well as representatives of the business community, may be invited to participate in ESDC training activities. Participants who have completed all of the ESDC courses shall receive a certificate signed by the Secretary-General, High Representative for the ESDP and recognised by the Member States and institutions of the European Union.


The ESDC pursues the following objectives:

  • to enhance the European security culture within ESDP;
  • to promote a better understanding of ESDP;
  • to provide European Union bodies, Member States’ administrations and staff with personnel qualified in the field;
  • to help promote professional relations and contacts among training participants.

Organisation and funding

The joint action sets up three bodies to manage the network:

  • a Steering Committee responsible for the overall coordination and direction of the training activities of the ESDC;
  • an Executive Academic Board, which ensures the quality and coherence of the training activities;
  • a permanent ESDC Secretariat, responsible for assisting the other two bodies.

Each Member State, each EU institution or EU agency and each institute forming the ESDC network bears all costs related to its participation in ESDC, including salaries, allowances, travel expenses and costs related to organisational and administrative support of ESDC training activities.


On 19 and 20 June 2003, at its meeting in Thessaloniki, the European Council endorsed the development of a coordinated EU training policy regarding European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The European Security and Defence College was created on 18 July 2005 by Joint Action 2005/575/ESDP. On 21 December 2007, pursuant to Article 13 of that Joint Action, the Steering Committee presented a report on the activities and perspectives of the ESDC. On 18 March 2008, in the light of that report, the Political and Security Committee (PSC) asked the Council to amend the Joint Action.

This Joint Action shall be reviewed and revised as appropriate no later than 31 December 2011.


ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Joint Action 2008/550/CFSP23.6.2008-Official Journal L 176 of 4.7.2008

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Last updated: 23.09.2008
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