Close to 5,000 European women and men are currently engaged on the ground in Europe’s neighbourhood: Africa, the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe, the Middle East. They are military and civilian experts detached by the EU’s Member States under EU-led missions and operations.
The EU currently deploys 10 civilian missions and 6 military missions and operations in partner countries, with the aim of stabilising our neighbourhood and thus providing security at home. They are part of the European way to security: working with our partners and combining Europe’s unique soft power with military capabilities to prevent conflict and engage in stabilisation.
With mandates tailored to the needs of the situation on the ground, the EU’s missions and operations work to empower our partner countries so that they can provide for their own security. They cover a broad range of task. For example, they assist in creating a safe and secure environment at land and sea, fighting pirates or disrupting networks of traffickers; they contribute to border management and the rule of law, and provide training to help local security forces address challenges related to organised crime, terrorism or irregular migration.
In an increasingly interconnected world, what happens outside of the EU’s borders can have a direct impact on the security of European citizens. That’s why the impact of the work of the EU’s missions and operations counts both outside and within Europe.
Some of it can be measured in numbers. As an example, the EU’s civilian missions have trained 12,000 people to combat arms trafficking, counter people smuggling, manage borders, and more. They have also monitored 200 criminal cases.
Our military missions and operations have disposed of 3,000 tonnes of unsafe ammunition. Off the coast of Somalia, they have reduced the number of successful pirate attacks down to zero, protecting international – including European – trade, humanitarian aid, and local fishers.
Whilst more work lies ahead, a lot of progress has been achieved over the past few years on European security and defence – and this includes EU civilian and military missions and operations. For example, a Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) has been established to strengthen coordination and cooperation of EU military training missions, acting as their common headquarters. Also, EU Member States have agreed on an ambitious action plan to strengthen the civilian side of the EU’s common security and defence policy.