Common European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)
The central objective of the Common European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is to strengthen the external action capacity of the EU by building up and developing civilian and military capabilities which enable the Union to undertake crisis management missions. In this context, also conflict prevention activities are of special importance.
As part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), ESDP works according to the traditional rules of inter-governmental cooperation. While all important decisions must be taken unanimously, a Member State can abstain on a vote without preventing the adoption of a Council decision (a so called "constructive abstention"). In such a case, the abstaining Member State is not bound to participate in the implementation of the decision in question.
Important legal pre-requisites concerning the ESDP were laid down in the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 and expanded in the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997. It was in the Maastricht Treaty that a role for the EU in all matters relating to security and the perspective of a common defence policy were first laid down in the Union’s primary law. The Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated the "Petersberg-Tasks" of the WEU into the EU acquis, i.e. humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping and combat missions in the framework of crisis management, including peace enforcement.
The violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s made it clear that the EU was not in a position to intervene effectively in its immediate neighbourhood. Political statements and attempts at mediation proved to be insufficient to counter military aggression and ethnically motivated violence. The increasing awareness that questions of crises management, including possible military actions, can no longer be excluded from the Common Foreign and Security Policy, found its expression also in the organisation of the first informal meeting of EU defence ministers in Vienna during Austria’s first EU presidency in 2008.
The conflict in Kosovo at the end of the 90’s once again exposed the deficits of the EU in managing conflicts. The EU saw itself under pressure to act, which finally led to the adoption of a declaration on “Strengthening the Common European Security and Defence Policy” at the European Council in Cologne in June 1999. The European Council in Cologne also adopted guidelines for the development of autonomous EU capabilities for conflict prevention and crisis management with civilian and military means. Only six months later, in December of 1999, the European Council in Helsinki adopted a comprehensive ESDP concept.
The Helsinki decisions represent the starting point for the on-going strengthening of the EU’s security policy instruments which had been so limited until then.
Fundamental characteristics of ESDP:
- The ESDP is intended to contribute to international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The EU recognises the primary responsibility of the United Nations Security Council in this area.
- Balance between and equal importance of civilian and military crisis management.
- Strong emphasis on conflict prevention to supplement crisis management efforts.
- Systematic build-up of civilian and military capabilities enabling the EU to conduct crisis management operations through civilian and military Headline Goals, which are periodically revised and adjusted according to lessons learned and latest developments.
- Creation of structures within the EU to support the development of the required capabilities and the decision making process in crisis management operations. The Political and Security Committee (PSC), composed of EU Member States’ representatives at ambassadorial level, continuously monitors the international situation and exercises political and strategic control over ESDP operations. Fundamental political decisions such as on starting an ESDP operation remain a prerogative of the EU Council in foreign ministers’ format.
- The PSC is advised and supported in its work by the General Secretariat of the Council (which includes the EU Military Staff) and by bodies composed of experts from every EU Member State, above all the Civilian Crisis Management Committee (CivCom), the EU Military Committee (EUMC) and, regarding horizontal issues touching upon both civilian and military aspects, the Political Military Group (PMG).
- In all crisis management matters, a close cooperation and coordination and maximum transparency between EU and NATO are called for.
On the basis of the decisions of the European Council in Helsinki the structures described above were swiftly put in place, enabling the EU to launch its first crisis management operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
In December 2008 the Council of the European Union adopted a “Declaration on strengthening capabilities”, which defines a level of ambition according to which the EU should be capable of simultaneously planning and conducting the following operations and missions:
- two major stabilisation and reconstruction operations, with a suitable civilian component, supported by up to 10 000 troops for at least two years;
- two rapid-response operations of limited duration using inter alia EU battle groups;
- an emergency operation for the evacuation of European nationals (in less than ten days), bearing in mind the primary role of each Member State as regards its nationals and making use of the consular lead State concept;
- a maritime or air surveillance/interdiction mission;
- a civilian-military humanitarian assistance operation lasting up to 90 days;
- around a dozen ESDP civilian missions (inter alia police, rule-of-law, civilian administration, civil protection, security sector reform, and observation missions) of varying formats, including in rapid-response situations, together with a major mission (possibly up to 3000 experts) which could last several years
Civilian Crisis Management
Over the last years, the importance of crisis prevention and civilian crisis management has increased considerably. The necessity of this is obvious: While military interventions can limit or put an end to an armed conflict, other means are called for in order to eliminate the causes of such outbursts of violence and to reconstruct administrative and political structures after a conflict. It is the main purpose of instruments of civilian crisis management to help states weakened by crisis and conflict to create or rebuild an efficient administrative apparatus based on the rule of law, especially in the fields of police, justice and border management.
The Action Plan for the Civilian Aspects of ESDP, which was endorsed by the European Council in June 2004, has defined the procedures necessary in order to further develop the Union’s civilian crisis management capabilities. These measures comprise the quantitative as well as qualitative enhancement of capabilities, for instance through the development of multifunctional "crisis management clusters" (integrating, for instance, police and rule-of-law elements) or improved coordination between various crisis management actors. The Action Plan also provided for shortening the time necessary to prepare a mission and speeding up procurement procedures for equipment needed in civilian crisis management operations. The "Civilian Headline Goal 2008" defined a concrete timeframe (until 2008) and a process based on a requirements catalogue and deadlines for Member States’ pledges of needed capabilities in order to improve the Union’s civilian capabilities. The new “Civilian Headline Goal 2010” is based on lessons learned and emphasises synergies originated through the cooperation with other international actors of the civilian crisis management.
Military Crisis Management
In 1999 in Helsinki, the EU has set itself the goal to deploy within 60 days up to 60,000 persons capable of undertaking military operations covering the full range of the "Petersberg-Tasks" ("Helsinki Headline Goal"). In terms of quantity, this goal has already been reached by the Member States. A new target, the "Military Headline Goal 2010" was set in 2004. One of the main elements of the Headline Goal 2010 is the establishment of a rapid reaction force, the so called "EU Battle Groups". Since the beginning of 2007, two such Battle Groups are constantly at the disposal of the EU, with half-yearly rotations between single groups. A Battle Group comprises around 1.500 soldiers and can be deployed within 5 -10 days on operations covering the full spectrum of “Petersberg-Tasks".
In the framework of the implementation of the Military Headline Goal, in 2007 a systematic balance titled “Progress Catalogue” was presented which illustrated both the objectives so far achieved in the setup of military ESDP-Capacities, as well as the remaining significant capabilitv shortfalls that were identified. On this basis, in 2008 the so-called “Headline Goal Task Force” consisting of military experts from all Member States elaborated recommendations for concrete measures to overcome the shortfalls and and for an order of priority for these measures. These recommendations led to the “Capability Development Plan” (CDP) which is to help Member States to bring future key-decisions concerning the development of their armed forces, respectively their military research- and development goals, in line with ESDP requirements. The CDP emphasises 12 areas in which significant Union-wide capability shortfalls still exist, like e.g. man-portable antiaircraft defence systems, mine countermeasure systems for coastal waters, reconnaissance and target acquisition capabilities, medical support, defence against nuclear, radiological and chemical agents, or protection against improvised explosive devices.
In the process of the implementation of the CDP the "European Defence Agency" (EDA) will play a key-role. The EDA has taken up its work in 2005 and is tasked with the development of European defence capabilities, particularly by facilitating multinational projects in the fields of procurement, research and development and by optimizing the European armaments market.
Cooperation with international partners
The EU is cooperating closely with numerous other international actors in the field of crisis management. The main partner in this context is the United Nations which bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Furthermore, the EU is maintaining a strategic partnership in crisis management matters with NATO. For instance, NATO can put military assets and capabilities at the disposal of the EU for concrete crisis management operations, based on agreements which are also known as "Berlin-plus arrangements".
Building up autonomous African crisis management capabilities is an important element of the “Common EU-Africa Strategy”, which was adopted in December 2007. This Strategy also provides for a “Peace- and Securitypartnership” between Africa and the EU.
Also in its cooperation with the southern and eastern Mediterranean neighbouring countries (especially in the “Mediterranean Union” framework), security policy questions are part of the agenda.
Given that ESDP is an open project, third countries have, in principle, the possibility to participate in EU crisis management operations and have already done so on many occasions.
Austria and the ESDP
Austria’s commitment to participate actively and in the spirit of solidarity in ESDP is consistent with the policy Austria has pursued since its accession to the European Union on 1 January 1995. In joining the EU, Austria adopted the entire legal and political "acquis communautaire", which also included the Treaty of Maastricht and its provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Article J.4 of this treaty opened up the perspective of a common defence policy, which could in due course lead to a common defence. In the referendum held in June 1994, two-thirds of the Austrian population voted in favour of accession to the EU under these conditions. On the occasion of the ratification of Austria’s Act of Accession to the EU, a specific provision (Art. 23 f) was added to the Austrian Federal Constitution according to which decisions taken in the framework of CFSP have precedence over the Federal Constitutional Law on Austria’s Permanent Neutrality. In connection with the ratification of the EU Treaty as amended by the Amsterdam European Council, Art. 23f of the constitution was further amended in the sense of clarifying that Austria’s participation in missions in the framework of the “Petersberg-Tasks” (including peace enforcement combat missions) is not to be restricted by the Federal Constitutional Law on Austria’s Permanent Neutrality
Austria participates actively in all areas of ESDP. Regarding the further development of the Union’s crisis management instruments, Austria puts special emphasis on an approach balancing civilian and military capabilities. In this context it must be duly taken into account that, over the last years, civilian crisis management instruments have undergone an especially dynamical development and that the EU has extraordinary potential in this field.
In the area of military ESDP-capabilities, Austria’s contribution to the “Military Headline Goal” (see above) consists of a framework brigade in accordance with the "Framework Nation Concept of the EU" including the necessary support and special forces as well as command and control elements.
In the first half of 2011, Austria will for the first time, presumably with a contingent of company strength, contribute forces to a EU Battle Group together with the Netherlands (lead nation), Germany, Finland and Lithuania, For the second half of 2012, another Austrian participation is scheduled in a Battle Group with Germany as lead nation and with the Czech Republic, Ireland, and the third countries Croatia and Macedonia as further participating states. According to the current state of planning, several hundred Austrian soldiers will participate in this Battle Group and will in particular be responsible for the Group’s logistics.
For the civil crisis management capabilities of the EU Austria has declared its readiness to contribute up to 147 experts.
Austrian participation in ESDP crisis management operations:
So far, Austria has participated in the following ESDP operations which have already been terminated:
Military operations: “ARTEMIS” and EUFOR RD Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo; military operation “Concordia” in Macedonia; EUFOR Chad/RCA in eastern Chad respectively in the northwest of the Central African Republic; civil-military support-mission to the AMIS in Sudan/Darfur.
Civilian missions: police mission “Proxima” (respectively its succession-mission “EUPAT”) in Macedonia; monitoring mission “AMM” in Aceh/Indonesia.
Current ESDP missions with Austrian participation:
Military operation “EUFOR Althea” in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ca. 110 members of the Austrian Armed Forces); armed forces reform mission “EUSEC Congo” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (up to 2 Austrian experts); police missions: EUPM in Bosnia and Herzegovina (5 Austrian police officers); EUPOL COPPS in the Palestinian Territories (up to 4 Austrian police and judiciary experts); border control assistance mission EUBAM Rafah in the Palestinian Territories (1 customs officer currently not on duty but on call in the evcentuality of a reopening of the Rafah checkpoint), training mission EUJUST LEX (up to 5 training instructors from the Austrian Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice; organisation of a seminar for high ranking personnel of Iraqi penitentiary institutions in Austria in summer 2008); EULEX Kosovo (ca. 25 experts from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice); EUMM Georgia (3 police officers, 1 human rights expert).
ESDP and the Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon, in which the 27 EU Member States agreed on 18 October 2007 on a reform of the European Union, contains the following new elements of EU primary law regarding the European Security and Defence Policy:
- the expression “ESDP” is replaced by the expression “Common European Security and Defence Policy” (CESD)
- the extension of the range of "Petersberg-Tasks" to disarmament measures, military advice and assistance, conflict prevention and post-conflict stabilisation;
- commitment of the EU Member States to make civilian and military capabilities available to the CESD;
- commitment of the EU Member States to progressively improve their defence capabilities;
- Embedding of the “Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments” (European Defence Agency/EDA) in EU primary-law:
- the creation of a possibility for those Member States whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and who wish to enter into more binding commitments in this area to set up a "permanent structured cooperation";
- the introduction of a commitment to mutual assistance in the case of an armed attack on an EU Member State, respecting the "specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States";
- the introduction of a Solidarity Clause for all Member States with a view to confronting terrorist threats and disasters (“Solidarity Clause”).
In this context, it has to be mentioned, that the range of “Petersberg Tasks”, is only extended to missions, whose potential intensity is clearly below that of the “tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking”, which were among the “Petersberg-Tasks” from the beginning. Therefore, the execution of such missions can already, before entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, be regarded as implicitly authorized under EU-primary law, i.e. see the above mentioned Mission EUSEC RD Congo.
The creation of the European Defence Agency (EDA) –also didn´t require a primary-law basis and in fact this agency was launched in 2004 and commenced its work in 2005. It deserves mentioning, however, that the EDA is to date the sole of the numerous “EU-agencies” which will be referred to in EU primary law once the Lisbon Treaty enters into force.
Concerning the abovementioned “Solidarity Clause”, its core elements are largely identical with those of a declaration adopted by the heads of state of the EU in March 2004 in response to the terror attacks in Madrid. In the Treaty of Lisbon, these so far purely political commitments now take on a legal character while their scope is broadened beyond terror attacks to also compirse natural and man-made disasters.
Regarding the commitment to provide civilian and military capabilities for the Common Security and Defence Policy as well as to improve military capabilities, it should be noted that again, through these dispositions the Lisbon Treaty only introduces commitments into primary law, which all member states (except Denmark in light of its general CFSP “opt-out”in existence since the Maastricht Treaty) already adhere to since the creation of the ESDP through the Helsinki decisions.
It is also worth mentioning that the Treaty of Lisbon, as far as it is concerned with the provision or the improvement of military capabilities, does not aim at an increase in defence expenditure and armaments. It rather seeks to give clear orientations for the further development of member states’ armed forces with a view to enable them to fully meet the challenges of strengthening peace and stability in the world of today through crisis management measures in frameworks such as ESDP or the UN.