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Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

The European Union's European security and defence policy (ESDP) includes the gradual framing of a common defence policy which might in time lead to a common defence. It aims to allow the Union to develop its civilian and military capacities for crisis management and conflict prevention at international level, thus helping to maintain peace and international security, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The ESDP, which does not involve the creation of a European army, is developing in a manner that is compatible and coordinated with NATO.

The Maastricht Treaty (1992) was the first to include provisions on the Union's responsibilities in terms of security and the possibility of a future common defence policy. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999), new tasks have been included in the Treaty on European Union (Title V) such as crisis management missions or peace-keeping missions. The Political and Security Committee (PSC), the EU Military Committee (EUMC) and EU Military Staff (EUMS) are the permanent political and military structures responsible for an autonomous, operational EU defence policy. In December 1999, the Helsinki European Council established the "global objective", in other words that the Union must be able to deploy up to 60 000 persons within 60 days and for at least one year.

The Treaty of Lisbon reiterates that the Common Security and Defence Policy is an integral part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The ESDP becomes the “Common Security and Defence Policy” (CSDP) and could lead to a common defence if the European Council acting unanimously so decides (Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union – TEU). Decisions relating to the CSDP are adopted unanimously by the Council.

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is responsible for implementing the Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy and for coordinating the civilian and military aspects of the “Petersberg” tasks (Article 43 TEU). Member States may be involved in carrying out these missions under the framework of a permanent structured cooperation.

The Treaty of Lisbon strengthens Member States’ and the Union’s obligation of solidarity towards other Member States by providing:

  • a “common defence clause” which obliges Member States to assist a Member State which is the victim of armed aggression on its territory; and
  • a “solidarity clause” (Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU) which allows all civilian and military means to be mobilised to assist a Member State which has been the victim of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon institutionalises the European Defence Agency created in July 2004 through a joint Council action. This Agency is responsible for:

  • improving the defence capacities of the Union particularly in the field of crisis management;
  • strengthening the Union’s industrial and technological armament capacities;
  • promoting European cooperation in armament matters.

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