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Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

The Common Security and Defence Policy was ushered in at the European Council in Cologne in June 1999, where the EU countries initiated a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) in response to their difficulties in dealing with the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, especially the Kosovo conflict.

The ESDP was integrated into the European treaties in Nice in 2001 and transformed into the Common Security and Defence Policy in 2007. The EU worked out the necessary structures and processes for independent crisis management action within a short period and began in 2003 to implement both civilian missions and military operations, which have totalled 24 to date.

The name change from ESDP to CSDP, which occurred with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, signified considerable developments in European security policy: the EU countries agreed, for example, on a mutual defence clause which now also included the neutral EU countries (Finland, Ireland and Austria). The newly established Permanent Structured Cooperation is an instrument which enables a group of member states to take further steps, under the auspices of the European Union, towards integration in developing their military capabilities. Other member states are not required to take part in this integration.

Finally, the new office of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as the European External Action Service in support of the High Representative are specifically intended to ensure greater coherence in European foreign policy.

Click here for more information on the High Representative of the European Union for the Common Foreign and Security Policy on the website of the European External Action Service

Click here for more information on the European External Actions Service on its website

Civilian and military instruments

With its various civilian, police and military instruments such as Civilian Response Teams and two deployment-ready EU Battlegroups as military crisis reaction forces, the CSDP enables the EU to cover the full spectrum of crisis prevention, crisis management and post-conflict responsibilities.


CSDP instruments: types of operations and missions
The EU recognizes seven essential types of missions and operations, which are carried out by different types of actors, from civilian experts to police officers to military forces, either alone or acting in concert:
a. observer missions (monitoring missions such as Aceh Monitoring Mission, EUMM Georgia),
b. border assistance missions (EU Border Assistance Mission Rafah, EUBAM Moldova/Ukraine),
c. rule of law missions (EULEX Kosovo, EUJUST LEX),
d. police missions (e.g. Proxima, EUPAT, EUPOL Kinshasa, EUPM, EUPOL COPPS, EUPOL Afghanistan, EUPOL RD Congo),
e. Security Sector Reform (SSR) missions (EUSEC DR Congo, EU SSR Guinea-Bissau),
f. military operations (Atalanta, EUFOR Althea, Concordia, Artemis, EUFOR DR Congo, EUFOR Chad/CAR),
g. military training missions (EUTM).

German participation

EUPOL in Afghanistan

EUPOL in Afghanistan
© picture alliance / dpa

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EUPOL in Afghanistan

EUPOL in Afghanistan

Germany is a key contributor to the CSDP. From the very start we have lent our support to the equal development of civilian, police and military capabilities and we are currently participating in nearly every CSDP mission and operation with civilian expert, police officers and customs officials as well as Bundeswehr soldiers. However, a mandate from the Bundestag is absolutely necessary for participation in any armed military operation, as is – according to Article 24 (2) of the Basic Law – an international mandate, unless the case fulfils the definition of collective self-defence according to Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Cooperation with third countries and other organizations

The CSDP is open for cooperation with third countries because often its goals can best be reached by working with partners, particularly partners from the affected crisis region. The EU is also developing its capacities to complement those of the most significant other actors in the field of international crisis management such as the UN, NATO and the OSCE. The EU maintains close working relationships with these organizations at all levels and coordinates its activities within the framework of missions and operations.

The agreement known as “Berlin plus” has since 2003 regulated cooperation between NATO and the EU in the area of crisis management. A key aspect of “Berlin plus” is an agreement that the EU can draw on NATO resources and capabilities, and that the NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, who is always a European, would command such an operation.

Since the advent of “Berlin plus”, there has been an EU Cell at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), and in return NATO maintains a team within the EU Military Staff. “Berlin plus” also established close cooperation agreements between the EU and NATO. EUFOR ALTHEA offers a concrete example of how this cooperation between the EU and NATO on the basis of “Berlin plus” works in practice.

For more information on this “Berlin plus” click here.

The strategic partnership between the EU and NATO is indispensable to the success of the CSDP. The two organizations do not compete with, but rather complement one another. It is only by working together that the democracies of Europe and North America can ensure their security. A dynamic CSDP which is capable of action strengthens the European pillar of the Alliance and therefore NATO as a whole.

European Security Strategy

The EU needs clarity about its objectives and the means to achieve them in order to do justice to its responsibility as a player in security policy. The European Security Strategy (ESS) of December 2003 was the first document to formulate corresponding guidelines for the EU.

The European Security Strategy (2003)
The strategy outlines Europe’s increasingly complex security situation and multifarious global challenges as well as the significance of economic development as a prerequisite for security in many parts of the world, followed by a list of the key threats Europe faces: terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, failing states and organized crime.
The ESS identifies as strategic goals for Europe the aversion of threats – for example, through conflict management and non‑proliferation policy – as well as improvement of security conditions in Europe’s neighbourhood, for example in the Balkans and the Middle East, and effective multilateralism as a foundation for the international order. The United Nations Security Council is at the heart of security policy, but other international and regional organizations, as well as bilateral relations, also play a key role, especially regarding reforms in crisis regions which are initiated through trade and development policy.
The ESS deduces from its stated objectives the assertion that the EU needs to use its political, diplomatic, military, civilian and trade and development policy resources more actively in the fields of crisis prevention and resolution, and needs to consider a broader spectrum of missions. In doing so, the European countries should act more coherently in concert with each other and should cooperate more with partners around the world in order to contribute to a more just, more secure, and more unified world.

The European Security Strategy was initiated in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001, and sought to overcome the split within the EU regarding the Iraq war as well as to give the Common Foreign and Security Policy a strategic orientation. It has become a point of reference and departure for a range of regional and thematic strategies within the EU in areas including human rights, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. The European Council’s December 2008 review of the ESS’s implementation reaffirmed and thematically broadened its content and goals, such that it now includes additional topics such as cyber-security and climate change issues.


Last updated 18.04.2012