European Union External Action

EU Missions and Operations - As part of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy - Factsheet

13/11/2017 - 14:44
Factsheets

An Advisory Mission in Iraq, a Military Training Mission in the Central African Republic, a Maritime Operation in the Mediterranean and an Assistance Mission in Ukraine are among the most recent additions to over 30 civilian missions and military operations launched by the EU since the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) became a reality almost 15 years ago.

 

The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) provides the Union with an operational capacity to deploy both civilian missions and military operations. The range of tasks is set out in the EU Treaty: humanitarian and rescue tasks; conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks; tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making; joint disarmament operations; military advice and assistance tasks; post-conflict stabilisation tasks.

In the wake of the conflict in the Western Balkans in the 1990s, the EU and its Member States decided that the EU should be able to plan and conduct its own missions and operations. Steps were taken to set up the necessary decision-making bodies, planning structures and command and control arrangements.

In 2003, the first EU missions launched were the EU’s policing mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a military operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Since then, the EU has launched and run 34 operations and missions on three continents. Of these 22 were civilian and 11 were military, and one – in Darfur – mixed. As of today, there are 16 ongoing CSDP operations, 10 civilian and six military.

Throughout these years the EU has continuously enhanced its structures, mechanisms and tools to promote stability and security in our wider neighbourhood as well as to increase European security. Although not deployed so far, the EU Battle Groups offer a further instrument which allows the EU and its Member States to independently and rapidly respond to emerging conflicts and crises.

In addition to diplomacy and development assistance, defence and security measures have hence become key elements of the EU response to crises in the immediate neighbourhood and beyond as well as to the global challenges, all of which directly affect also the EU´s own security.

SDP missions and operations are a unique tool in the EU’s toolbox allowing for direct action, rapidly and in less permissive environments if need be, to manage and help resolve a conflict or crisis. This is normally done at the request of the country to which assistance is being provided and always in full respect of  international law. EU decisions to deploy a mission or operation also take into account the EU’s security interests and are tailored to the local circumstances and to the tasks that need to be implemented.

While decisions to establish these missions have been taken on a case by case basis, they are part of a strategic effort to provide security from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, to the Middle East, to provide maritime security along key routes, and to enable countries in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe to fully recover from conflict and enhance their own capacities to provide security. They aim at responding to external conflicts and crises when they arise, enhance the capacities of partners and ultimately protect the European Union and its citizens through external action.

CSDP missions and operations can be open to contributions of third States. Up to now 18 Framework Participation Agreements (FPA) have been signed in order to facilitate such participation.

  • Decision making: Decisions to establish and to launch missions and operations require the approval of all Member States through a Council Decision. The planning process is governed by crisis management procedures.
  • Force Generation: The majority of assets and personnel required for military operations as well as civilian missions are provided by Member States.
  • Command and Control Structures: During the conduct phase, the Political and Security Committee (where all Member States are represented) exercises political control and provides strategic direction of both civilian and military crisis management missions and operations, under the authority of the Council and the High Representative.  Each mission and operation has a single and identifiable chain of command for its safe and efficient conduct:
    • For military operations with an executive mandate (e.g. EUNAVFOR MED Sophia in the South Central Mediterranean), an operational headquarters is usually provided by a Member State acting as a framework nation.
    • Alternatively, the EU can also take recourse to NATO command structures under the Berlin-Plus agreements (e.g. EUFOR Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina) or activate the EU Operations Centre.
    • The Military training missions in Mali, Somalia and Central African Republic are since June 2017 put under one command located within the Military Staff of the EEAS in Brussels – the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), ensuring a better coordination and cooperation between military and civilian actors.
    • All civilian missions are commanded by the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) of the EEAS.
  • Financing Mechanism: Civilian mission are financed through the CFSP budget. The common costs of military operations cannot be funded by the EU budget and are instead covered by Member States through the so-called Athena mechanism.