European Security and Defence policy

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is an intrinsic part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union. Since its formal establishment in 1999, initiated by the Franco-British Summit in Saint Malo in December of the previous year, the ESDP has become one of the most dynamic EU policies.

The ESDP and its structures are anchored in the European Union’s institutional framework. Effective decision-making procedures and structures related to crisis management, the building and development of military and civilian capabilities, and civil-military coordination are the result of the joint efforts of the Member States in close cooperation with the General Secretariat of the EU Council, led by the High Representative, Javier Solana.

An important milestone confirming the EU’s international clout was the adoption of the European Security Strategy (ESS) by the European Council in December 2003. This strategic document defines the state of the international security environment, the EU’s goals in that environment, and the methods to achieve the goals. The adoption of the ESS unequivocally confirmed the EU’s aspirations as a major player in the field of international security, capable of resolving civilian and military crises anywhere in the world on its own. At the end of 2008 the implementation of the ESS was evaluated and, at the same time, the Declaration on the European Security Strategy was adopted, adding new security challenges to the ESS.

Eighteen operations in four years

In the more than four years since the ESS was adopted, the EU has undertaken 18 crisis management operations in different parts of the world. These events have provided the opportunity to test the EU’s standard of civil and military capabilities. Soldiers, police officers and civilian specialists from EU Member States now contribute to the creation of a safe environment and to the restoration of stability in parts of the world affected by war or conflict. Examples include the Western Balkans, the Middle East and Africa.

The range of military operations within the scope of the ESDP, through which the EU is capable of intervening effectively in crisis areas, currently includes not only evacuation and humanitarian operations, but also operations to keep or establish peace. Civilian missions in crisis areas mainly focus on restoring security sector institutions, administrative structures and respect for human rights.

Experience from military and civilian operations corroborates the complexity of current threats – if these threats spill over into a specific crisis situation, they cannot be contained with purely military or civilian actions. The EU, based on its practical experience, is conscious of the need for greater coordination of its civilian and military instruments, both within the ESDP and among the individual EU pillars.

In the field of crisis management the EU is a significant, well-recognised player that, at a strategic level, cooperates and develops partnerships with other international organisations (notably the UN and NATO). In addition, the EU has created efficient mechanisms for cooperation and consultation with third countries in the field of crisis management, and mechanisms for the involvement of third countries in civilian and military operations headed by the EU.

Priorities of the Czech Presidency

In the field of the ESDP, the Czech Republic will follow up on the activities started by the French Presidency. France declared its key ambitions and reiterated its commitment to making progress in many aspects of the ESDP. The Czech Republic will support a development of the ESDP that is fully in line with the key priority of Czech foreign policy, i.e. a well-functioning transatlantic link. The Czech Presidency will work towards ensuring that the development of EU capabilities in the field of the ESDP is complementary to the development of NATO capabilities and that no duplication occurs. The Czech Republic considers the civilian dimension of the ESDP to be the most promising area of further development; here the EU can draw on its extensive experience and wide range of instruments for comprehensive crisis management.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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