European Union External Action

Part 4 - The EU’s civilian missions around the world

24/08/2018 - 17:44
News stories

Six EU military missions and operations are currently active in Europe's wider neighbourhood to support peace and security under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). These military missions and, more generally, recent progress on EU defence matters have often been in the forefront of public discussion. However, addressing complex security challenges in fragile partner countries also requires substantial civilian support and the EU has indeed currently ten civilian missions operating in the field. These missions are an equally important instrument in the EU's toolbox to respond to crises or conflict in a tailor-made way. And there are plans to further strengthen the EU's civilian instrument in the making.


Currently 2,000 women and men work in the ten civilian missions in third countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Each of these missions have a specific mandate that outlines their tasks and is agreed by all EU Member States. The missions generally focus on strengthening local capacity, for maintaining security, for border management, for fighting terrorism or applying the rule of law while fully respecting important standards such as human rights and gender equality issues.

In Iraq for example the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM) contributes to building a strong and credible police force, while in Kosovo EU staff work on developing rule-of-law capacity and fighting against organised crime and corruption. Conflict prevention is also a most important key area for intervention. For example in Georgia the EU monitoring mission helps to defuse tension before it can result in new conflict.

Overall civilian missions can help in stabilisation and addressing a wide range of security challenges in partner countries, in this way also contributing indirectly to security of Europe and its citizens. 

civilian missions

Civilian EU missions - part of an integrated EU approach to conflict and crisis

Civilian missions play a large and increasing role in the EU’s global engagement for peace and security. However, this does not mean they work in isolation. The EU has a large range of instruments in its toolbox for its international engagement with partner countries. These instrument are applied jointly in a tailor made way and can considerably raise the chances for an effective and successful overall intervention. Therefore, the EU's civilian missions work in close coordination with the diplomatic network of the EU, the EU Delegations, but also with the Member States Representations on the spot as well as with other regional or international partners, such as the African Union or United Nations.


Obviously civilian missions also work with EU military missions and operations where they are equally present in a country. EU development cooperation plays also a large role in many of our partner countries and depending on each case close coordination with civilian missions can be is key in achieving optimal results. Finally, mission achievements and objectives are regularly reviewed and where necessary adapted to continue meeting actual needs that evolve over the life cycle of a crisis or conflict.


An example for the integrated approach is the EU’s engagement in the Sahel where the objective is amongst other things to fight terrorism and trafficking.

EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia
EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia

Strengthening the instrument of civilian CSDP missions  

EU Member States recently agreed that the instrument of civilian EU missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) should be further strengthened, also in view of the emerging security challenges in the EU’s neighbourhood and beyond.

Current work therefore focuses a number of further practical improvements of the current system to field civilian missions. This should result in improved speed and process when it comes to reacting to demands by partner countries, decision-making, planning and deployment. Also synergies and complementarity between civilian and military CSDP missions deployed in the same theatre will be further strengthened. It is expected that a "compact" of proposed measures will be submitted for decision to EU Member States in December.


EUCAP Sahel Niger


How are the missions organised ?

Fielding a CSDP mission requires the approval of all Member States through a Council Decision. The planning process is governed by crisis management procedures and every mission has its unique mandate based on the situation and request from the host country. The majority of assets and personnel required are provided by Member States, while costs for civilian missions are covered through the common EU budget.


The EEAS summer series on security and defence puts the spotlight on key EU initiatives in this area.

In case you missed it, below you find links to our previous editions of the EEAS summer series on security and defence:

Part 1: EU acts for peace and security

Part 2: EU Defence Cooperation - the crucial issue of mobility

Part 3: Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence PESCO