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Political and Security Committee (PSC)

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) monitors the international situation in the areas covered by the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It plays a central role in the definition of and follow-up to the European Union's response to a crisis.

ACT

Council Decision 2001/78/CFSP of 22 January 2001 setting up the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

SUMMARY

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) is a permanent structure of the Council of the European Union (EU), the creation of which is provided for by Article 38 of the Treaty on EU (formerly Article 25 of the EU Treaty).

The PSC contributes to the drafting and implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). In particular, it defines and follows up the EU's response in the event of a crisis.

The tasks of the Political and Security Committee

The mission of the PSC is to monitor the international situation in the areas covered by the CFSP. The PSC:

  • delivers opinions to the Council in order to help define policies;
  • coordinates, supervises and monitors the work led by the different Council working groups in the area of the CFSP;
  • examines the draft conclusions of the General Affairs Council.

The PSC conducts the political dialogue by maintaining a privileged link with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the special representatives, and by providing a privileged forum for dialogue on the ESDP, with NATO for example.

The PSC sends guidelines to the Military Committee (EUMC) and receives the latter's opinions and recommendations. The Chairman of the EUMC, who takes part, where necessary, in PSC meetings, liaises with the European Union Military Staff (EUMS).

The PSC takes responsibility, under the authority of the Council, for the political direction of the development of military capabilities. It receives the opinion of the EUMC, assisted by the EUMS.

Effective management of crises

The PSC is the Council body which deals with crisis situations and examines all the options that might be considered as the EU's response. It is therefore for the PSC to propose to the Council the political objectives to be pursued and to recommend a cohesive set of options for resolving the crisis. In particular, the PSC may draw up an opinion recommending to the Council that it adopt a Decision on the action to be taken. Without prejudice to the role of the Commission, it supervises the implementation of the measures adopted and assesses their effects. The Commission and the Member States inform it of the measures they have adopted or are planning to take.

The Council and the Commission have powers, each within their own areas of competence and in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Treaties, to take legally binding decisions. However, under Article 38 of the TEU, the Council may authorise the PSC, for the duration of a crisis management operation, to take the relevant decisions concerning the political control and strategic direction of the operation.

In the event of a military response, the PSC exercises political control and strategic direction. On the basis of the opinions and recommendations of the EUMC, the PSC evaluates strategic military options, the operation concept and the operation plan to be submitted to the Council. With a view to launching an operation, the PSC sends the Council a recommendation based on the opinions of the EUMC. On that basis the Council decides to launch the operation within the Decision on the action to be taken, determining in particular the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in the implementation of the measures. During the operation, the High Representative, who may chair the PSC, reports to the Council. On the basis of the proceedings of the PSC, the High Representative directs the activities of the Situation Centre, which supports the PSC and provides it with intelligence on crisis management.

In a crisis situation, close coordination between the institutions is especially necessary. The Chairman of the PSC participates, where necessary, in Coreper (Permanent Representatives Committee) meetings.

Context

At the Helsinki Summit on 10-11 December 1999 the European Council agreed to establish a Political and Security Committee. An interim committee was then set up (Decision 2000/143/CSFP). The Heads of State or Government meeting in Nice in December 2001 finally reached agreement on the establishment of a permanent Political and Security Committee.

The PSC is permanently chaired by the European External Action Service. It comprises one ambassador per Member States, a permanent representative of the European Commission, a representative of the EUMC, a representative from the Secretariat of the Council of the EU and a legal service.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Council Decision 2001/78/CFSP

22.1.2001

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OJ L 27 of 30.1.2001

Last updated: 19.08.2011
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