European Union

Security & Defence

Security & Defence

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) was established in 2000 and is a key instrument for external action. The policy is equipped with planning capabilities, structures, procedures and a wealth of operational experience built up in some thirty missions to date. It has contributed to institutional reform and capacity-building initiatives through specialisation in training and mentoring. The CSDP pioneered the ‘comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises’ and in a more connected, contested and complex global environment, this comprehensive approach is even more important today than a decade ago.

CSDP’s modus operandi of partnering with international and regional organisations – notably the UN, the AU and NATO – is ever more relevant in an age of complexity. However, launching CSDP operations is getting no easier over time. The current level of ambition and capability targets in the CSDP are not tailored to the degraded strategic environment, featuring hybrid threats, intertwined internal and external security challenges, and the growing need for Europeans to take responsibility for their own security.

CSDP faces difficulties in force generation, and access to early and common financing, enablers, intelligence and logistics. This has often limited the scope, size, strategic depth and escalation management ability of missions. The Battle Groups, although on stand-by, have never been deployed. The Lisbon Treaty’s permanent structured cooperation and Article 44 TEU (on the implementation of a task by a group of Member States) have also never been activated. To add to that, Member States’ defence budgets have been slashed in an uneven manner, with R&T taking the greatest hit. The EU may not be a military alliance, but the Union cannot afford to ignore the ‘D’ in its CSDP.

In a degraded security environment, a commitment to strengthening CSDP is crucial as is the need to develop synergies between internal and external security policies. The political economy of defence, coupled with security crises beyond the EU’s borders, could lead to deeper cooperation between Member States, and thereby boost the CSDP. This, in turn, would help bolster partnerships with the UN, NATO and other international and regional organisations.

To implement the EU Global Strategy, decisive steps are being taken on Security and Defence. In November 2016, EU Foreign and Defence ministers decided on a new level of ambition and key steps to upgrade cooperation on Security and Defence in line with the Global Strategy (Council conclusions). These Conclusions were based on HRVP Federica Mogherini's Implementation Plan on Security and Defence. This aims to improve the protection of the EU and its citizens, help governments jointly build military capacity, and develop  better response to crises. Further actions to step up EU Security include the European Defence Action Plan, which proposes financial help for Member States for more efficient joint procurement and capability development, and steps to put into effect the EU-NATO Joint Declaration.

All three - the Security and Defence Implementation Plan, European Defence Action Plan, and the EU-NATO Join Declaration - form part of a package to enhance the Security of our Union.

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