European Union External Action

CSDP structure, instruments, and agencies

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) meets at the ambassadorial level as a preparatory body for the Council of the EU. Its main functions are keeping track of the international situation, and helping to define policies within the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) including the CSDP. It prepares a coherent EU response to a crisis and exercises its political control and strategic direction.

Read more: The Political and Security Committee

The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) is the highest military body set up within the Council. It is composed of the Chiefs of Defence of the Member States, who are regularly represented by their permanent military representatives. The EUMC provides the PSC with advice and recommendations on all military matters within the EU.

Read more:  The European Union Military Committee

In parallel with the EUMC, the PSC is advised by a Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM). This committee provides information, drafts recommendations, and gives its opinion to the PSC on civilian aspects of crisis management.

The Politico-Military Group (PMG) carries out preparatory work in the field of CSDP for the Political and Security Committee. It covers the political aspects of EU military and civil-military issues, including concepts, capabilities and operations and missions. It prepares Council Conclusions, provides Recommendations for PSC, and monitors their effective implementation. It contributes to the development of (horizontal) policy and facilitates exchanges of information. It has a particular responsibility regarding partnerships with third states and other organisations, including EU-NATO relations, as well as exercises. The PMG is chaired by a representative of the High Representative.

The Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) contributes to the objectives of the European External Action Service, the EU Common Security and Defence Policy and a more secure international environment by the political-strategic planning of CSDP civilian missions and military operations, ensuring coherence and effectiveness of those actions as part of the EU comprehensive approach to crisis management and developing CSDP partnerships, policies, concepts and capabilities.

Read more:  The Crisis Management and Planning Directorate

The European Union Military Staff (EUMS) - working under the direction of the EU Military Committee (EUMC) and under the authority of the High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) - is the source of collective (multi-disciplinary) military expertise within the European External Action Service (EEAS). As an integral component of the EEAS’s Comprehensive Approach, the EUMS coordinates the military instrument, with particular focus on operations/missions (both military and those requiring military support) and the creation of military capability. Enabling activity in support of this output includes: early warning (via the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity - SIAC), situation assessment, strategic planning, Communications and Information Systems, concept development, training and education, and support of partnerships through military-military relationships. Concurrently, the EUMS is charged with sustaining the EU OPSCEN and providing its core staff when activated.

Read more:  The European Union Military Staff

The Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), which is part of the EEAS, is the permanent structure responsible for an autonomous operational conduct of civilian CSDP operations. Under the political control and strategic direction of the Political and Security Committee and the overall authority of the High Representative, the CPCC ensures the effective planning and conduct of civilian CSDP crisis management operations, as well as the proper implementation of all mission-related tasks.

Read more: The Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability 

  • Agency of the EU assisting the Member States in their efforts to improve European defence capabilities in support of the Common Security and Defence Policy of the Union;
  • Set-up in July 2004, its Steering Board meets at the level of defence ministers;
  • Based in Brussels, EDA fosters defence cooperation among its Member States (all EU Member States except Denmark).

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is the Union’s agency facilitating defence cooperation among its Member States for the whole life-cycle of a capability including cooperation in research and technology as well as procurement or training.

The European Defence Agency was established under a Joint Action of the Council of Ministers on 12 July 2004 (2004/551/CFSP), to support the Member States and the Council in their effort to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defence Policy as it stands now and develops in the future. On 12 July 2011, the Council adopted a Decision (2011/411/CFSP) defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency. This Council decision replaced the Council Joint Action.

The European Defence Agency’s mission is to develop defence capabilities; promote defence research and technology (R&T); foster armaments co-operation; and to create a competitive European Defence Equipment Market as well as to strengthen the European Defence, Technological and Industrial Base.

The Agency is funded by its members in proportion to their GNP. This budget covers the Agency's operating costs; individual projects are funded separately. EDA is governed by its Steering Board which meets at the level of defence ministers. The Head of the Agency is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

See also: The European Defence Agency

The European Security and Defence College (ESDC) was established in 2005, with the aim of providing strategic-level education in European Security and Defence Policy, now Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It followed thorough need analysis and experimentation phases. The creation of the ESDC was to give the Common Security and Defence Policy a training and education instrument which actively promotes a European security culture.

Read more: European Security and Defence College

  • Agency of the EU dealing with the analysis of foreign, security and defence policy issues;
  • Set up in January 2002 as an autonomous agency under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP);
  • Based in Paris, with an Antenna in Brussels, the EUISS seeks to foster a common security culture for the EU, and support the elaboration and projection of its foreign policy.

The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) is an EU agency dealing with the analysis of foreign, security and defence policy issues.

The EUISS was set up in January 2002 as an autonomous agency under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) [Council Joint Action 2001/554, amended by Council Joint Action 2006/1002] to foster a common security culture for the EU, support the elaboration and projection of its foreign policy, and enrich the strategic debate inside and outside Europe. Based in Paris, with an antenna in Brussels, the EUISS is now an integral part of the new structures that underpin the further development of the CFSP/CSDP.

The Institute’s core mission is to provide analyses and fora for discussion that can be of use and relevance to the formulation of EU policy. In carrying out that mission, it also acts as an interface between European experts and decision-makers at all levels.

The Institute is funded by the EU Member States according to a GNP-based formula. It is governed by a Board, chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), which lays down its budgetary and administrative rules and approves its work programme. The Political and Security Committee (PSC) exercises political supervision - without prejudice to the intellectual independence and operational autonomy of the EUISS.

See also: European Union Institute For Security Studies

  • Agency of the EU supporting the decision making in the field of CFSP/CSDP through the analysis of data from Earth observation satellites;
  • Set up in January 2002 as a Council agency under the operational direction of the High Representative;
  • Based in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, with an antenna in Brussels

The Centre was founded in 1992 and incorporated as an agency into the European Union in January 2002 to provide geospatial intelligence products and services in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and, in particular, the Common Security and Defence Policy, primarily through the analysis of data from Earth observation satellites. Based in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, the EU SatCen is a now a fully operational agency of the EU in the field of space and security. The EU SatCen is becoming the leading provider of security-related geospatial information products and services in the EU and is fully connected to the EU CFSP/CSDP structures as well as all relevant development and cooperation actions in the space and security domain.

The SatCen has supported and is currently supporting the EEAS, EU Member States, the European Commission, Third States and international organisations such as the UN and NATO in decision-making in the field of CFSP/CSDP. Prime beneficiaries of SatCen services are EEAS bodies and CSDP missions and operations.

The SatCen is funded by the EU Member States. It is governed by a board consisting of representatives of all EU Member States, which approves its budget and work programme. It is under the supervision of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and the operational direction of the High Representative of the Union.

See also: European Union Satellite Centre

On 23 March 2012 the Foreign Affairs Council  decided to activate, for the first time, the EU Operations Centre, with the aim of coordinating and strengthening civil-military synergies between the three CSDP missions in the Horn of Africa. Initially, the mandate of the EU Operations Centre was extended until 23 March 2015 (Council Decision 2013/725/CFSP ), and subsequently on 1 December 2014 the Foreign Affairs Council has extended the EU OPCEN's Mandate until the end of 2016 and expanded the geographical and functional scope to the Sahel region.

In the Horn of Africa region the EU is currently conducting a military operation – EUNAVFOR ATALANTA – which protects humanitarian aid shipments and fights piracy off the Somali coast, a military mission – EUTM Somalia – which contributes to the training of Somali Security Forces and provides military advice to the Somali National Authorities, and a civilian mission - EUCAP NESTOR - to strengthen maritime capacities in the Horn of Africa.

The three CSDP missions supported by the EU OPCEN in the Sahel regions are - EUTM Mali -  to restore constitutional and democratic order, the authority of rule of law and human rights and neutralize organized crime and terrorist threats in Mali, - EUCAP SAHEL MALI -  , and - EUCAP SAHEL NIGER - to give advice and training to support the Nigerien authorities' efforts to strengthen their security capabilities.

The Council has appointed Captain (Navy) Francisco CORNAGO DIUFAIN as Head of the activated EU Operation Centre. He succeed Captain (Royal Netherlands Navy) Ad van der Linde. He has a dedicated staff of sixteen personnel Seconded by Member States, as well as the Brussels-based Support Cells for the EUTM Somalia, EUTM Mali and the Liaison Team of EUNAVFOR Operation ATALANTA in Brussels.

The Factsheet on the EU Operations Centre contains additional information on all elements described above.


TEU Article 21 recalls that multilateralism is at the core of the EU’s external action. “The Union shall promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations.”

“There are few if any problems we can deal with on our own. The threats described are common threats, shared with all our closest partners. International co-operation is a necessity. We need to pursue our objectives both through multilateral co-operation in international organisations and through partnerships with key actors.”

This quote from the European Security Strategy sets the scene for the EU’s co-operation with partner countries and international organisation in crisis management. In line with this, the EU is developing an effective and balanced partnership with the United States on security issues, including in counter-terrorism, the fight against the proliferation of WMD and in crisis management. The United States participates in CSDP missions in Kosovo and Congo. In May 2011 the EU and US concluded a framework agreement facilitating US participation in EU-led crisis management operations. Similar agreements are in place also with Canada, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Special arrangements exists for the involvement of non-EU European allies in EU military operations, in compliance with the EU’s decision-making autonomy. Other candidate countries for accession to the EU are also closely involved.

Special frameworks for co-operation on CSDP are also in place for Canada, Russia and Ukraine. So far, 25 partner countries contributed to 16 CSDP missions and operations. At the time of writing twelve countries (Albania, Canada, Chile, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the US) participate in seven of the twelve ongoing CSDP missions and operations. The EU also intends to further engage in CSDP co-operation with Eastern and Mediterranean partners on a case-by-case basis, thus contributing to enhancing regional security and stability.

EU - UN cooperation in crisis management

The EU-UN co-operation in crisis management is highly important and beneficial to both organizations, since the EU benefits from the political legitimacy conferred by the United Nations Security Council mandate, while the UN benefits from the credibility and the operational capability brought in by the EU, especially when it comes to the EU leading complex operations. Over the years, the European Union has provided operational, financial and political support to peacekeeping efforts of the UN. The launch of about twenty CSDP operations, military and civil, on several continents, bears testimony to such continued support. EU-UN co-operation in crisis management was formalized in 2003 in a Joint Declaration, following operation Artemis. It was then complemented and reinforced by a further Joint Statement in June 2007.

A joint consultative mechanism, known as the “EU-UN Steering Committee on Crisis Management” was created in 2003 as a follow-up to the Joint Declaration, bringing together EU and UN representatives at senior level involved in crisis management. It meets in principle twice a year, with possible additional ad hoc meetings in the event of a crisis.

EU - NATO cooperation in crisis management: "Berlin plus"

The strategic partnership in crisis management between the EU and NATO rests on the so-called Berlin-Plus arrangements adopted in December 2002, which include:

  • guaranteed access for the EU to NATO planning capabilities for planning its own operations;
  • presumption of availability to the EU of NATO’s collective capabilities and assets;
  • identification of European command options which recognise a special role for NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (D-SACEUR).

These arrangements were first implemented in spring 2003 for the Operation CONCORDIA in FYROM and then for the current operation EUFOR Althea in BiH.

EU - African Union, OSCE and ASEAN

Apart from NATO, the EU has also developed close co-operation in the field of crisis management with the African Union (AU). The partnership with the AU has three particular aspects: strengthening the political dialogue, making the African peace and security architecture fully operational and providing predictable funding for the AU’s peacekeeping operations.

The EU also maintains an important dialogue on crisis management with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN).