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BITS Research Report 00.3
November 2000


The European Union's Common Foreign, Security, and Defense Policy

Denise M. Groves



3. Conclusion:

The development of the both the CFSP and the CESDP continues at an extraordinarily rapid pace. After decades of little or no movement towards commonality in foreign and defense policies, the 15 nations of the European Union have reached consensus and are united in an effort to equip the Union with strategic capabilities. But a multitude of questions and problems lay before the EU: how the EU answers and how it solves those problems will determine the shape and the image of the EU as a world power.

Over the longer term, the EU must decide what sort of power it would like to become. This will necessarily involve the question of collective defense. For now, there is no foreseeable threat to the security of any of the EU members and an implied agreement to defend each other exists on only a de facto level. But as the process of enlargement begins and as countries such as Turkey or Romania enter the Union, will that de facto commitment also be extended? And as the Treaty on the European Union suggests, will the citizens of current EU members agree to the formal establishment of a common defense that includes such countries as Latvia or Estonia? And how will the European Union reconcile the existence of two nuclear powers within that common defense?

In terms of crisis management capabilities, the ambitious rhetoric of the Member States suggests that they want to create an EU that is competent to address a crisis with political, economic, non-military and military tools. Indeed, in February 2000, Chris Patten argued that there are two essential features of a credible and coherent foreign and security policy:

"First, we require the capacity to exert influence, whether through diplomacy, aid programs, trade measures or other means — including the provision of security assistance in crisis situations. Second, we need both the political will and the practical ability to apply force in the last resort if other options fail." 136

Recent events, however, demonstrate that a disproportionate emphasis has been placed on nurturing military capabilities in the form of the Rapid Reaction Force. In fact, a meeting of the EU Defense Ministers in France at the end of September has already yielded early pledges to the headline goal by the ministers from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, and others. The risk of concentrating too much on military capabilities is that the EU could end up constructing a common security and defense body that is oddly reminiscent of NATO. The measures adopted by the European Council of Ministers this summer to introduce a top-secret classification system for EU documents related to both the military and non-military crisis management could be one sign of this inclination.137 The policy pushed through the Council at the end of July while the European Parliament was on holiday was sponsored by Javier Solana, the High Representative for the CFSP and the former Secretary General of NATO.

Although it is heavily influenced by NATO, the EU is nevertheless in a position to build better and more capable non-military crisis prevention and crisis management tools. The EU may be inexperienced in matters of defense or security policy, but it has acquired a wealth of experience as a political and economic actor. But will the EU continue to nurture the ability it has gained from that experience? The additional challenge for the Europeans will be to look beyond enhancing their military might and consider how they might best prevent future conflicts in the first place. This will require that the EU resist restricting itself only "reactive" structures, but instead foster more "proactive" policies. A more balanced and carefully calibrated approach to crisis prevention — and if that fails, to crisis management — will guarantee the EU the ability to "play its full role on the international stage."


Denise M. Groves has worked as a researcher at the Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security (BITS).




1  "European Council Declaration on Strengthening the Common European Policy on Security and Defense, Presidency Conclusions," Cologne European Council, 3 - 4 June 1999, p. 33.

2 After 1950, a coalition of France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany tried to create a "European Defense Community" in order to assuage concerns about the rearmament of Germany. The attempt ultimately failed when the French Parliament rejected the plan in 1954.

3 In a speech at Humboldt University in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer outlined his "personal" vision of a Europe where there would be a central European government and a central European parliament that would lessen the powers of national governments. Joschka Fischer, "From Confederacy to Federation: Thoughts on the Finality of European Integration." Berlin, 12 May 2000.

4 See Articles 11 and 17 of the Treaty on the European Union.

5 These criteria were included in the Western European Union Council of Ministers' Petersberg Declaration, 19 June 1992, Bonn. Available at

6 Otfried Nassauer, "Europe's Road towards Military Integration: Understanding the Political, Institutional, and Technological Developments Towards a Common European Security and Defense Policy." In EU Restructuring for Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management, International Security Information Service Conference Report and Comment, 22 November 1999, p. 25.

7 From comments made during a press conference after the Austrian Presidency Informal Summit, 5 November 1998. Available at

8 Ibid.

9 Tony Blair, Address to the North Atlantic Assembly, 13 November 1998. The text of the speech is available at

10 Ibid.

11 Joint Declaration Issued at the British-French Summit, Saint Malo, France, 3-4 December 1998. Available at

12 Draft Conclusions of the German EU-Presidency on the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, Reinhardtshausen, 13-14 March, 1999. Available in the CESD-Policy Archive at

13 Walker, David. "Standing on our own Feet." The Guardian (UK), 14 May 1999.

14 Department of Defense, "Report to Congress: Kosovo / Operation Allied Force After Action Report." 31 January 2000, p. 78.

15 International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1999-2000, p. 30. London: Oxford University Press, 1999. An article in the 13 June 2000 edition of Defense Daily also quotes an unpublished report by the US Air Force, which stated that 84% of ammunition dropped over the former Yugoslavia was delivered by the United States.

16 NATO Alliance Strategic Concept, Washington, DC, 23 - 24 April 1999, para. 17.

17 Washington Summit Communiqué, Washington, DC, 24 April 1999, para. 10.

18 For example, the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), first endorsed by Alliance leaders in January 1994, is a concept meant to improve cooperation between the WEU and NATO and to provide a framework whereby the WEU could lead an operation, such as a humanitarian or relief operation, using NATO assets.

19 See the Strategic Concept, paras. 13 and 30, and the Washington Summit Communiqué, para. 5.

20 NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative, 25 April 1999, para. 1. Available at

21 These operations could include conflict prevention, conflict management, and crisis response operations in the Euro-Atlantic region.

22 Ibid.

23 "European Council Declaration on Strengthening the Common European Policy on Security and Defense." Annex III to the Presidency Conclusions, Cologne European Council, 3 - 4 June 1999, p. 37.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid, p. 35. It should also be mentioned that, in the same paragraph, the Council noted that it was their aim to take the necessary decisions by the end of the year 2000. At that point, "the WEU as an organization would have completed its purpose."

26 Ibid, p. 34.

27 Ibid, p. 38.

28 WEU Council of Ministers, "Audit of Assets and Capabilities for European Crisis Management Operations: Recommendations for Strengthening European Capabilities for Crisis Management Operations." Luxembourg, 23

29 Ibid.

30 For more on this, see Peter Cross and Otfried Nassauer, "European Security: Sharks and Minnows off Helsinki." BITS Policy Note 99.4, 2 December 1999.

31 Presidency Conclusions, Helsinki European Council, 10 - 11 December 1999, para. 27.

32 Ibid, paras. 26-27.

33 "Presidency Progress Report to the Helsinki European Council on Strengthening the Common European Policy on Security and Defense." Annex 1 to Annex IV of the Helsinki Summit Conclusions, p. 22.

34 It has been generally agreed that in order to maintain this level of operational forces, a total number of at least 150,000 personnel will have to be earmarked for the task.

35 Helsinki Summit Conclusions, Annex 1 to Annex IV, p. 22.

36 Ibid, p. 25.

37 Helsinki Summit Conclusions, Annex 2 to Annex IV, p. 27.

38 Ibid, p. 28.

39 For example, Retired German General Klaus Naumann said in late March 2000 that the EU would need 10 years to build up a real military intervention capability. Douglas Hamilton, "European Rapid Reaction Force Unlikely by 2003." Reuters, 29 March 2000. In addition, an editorial in Defense News opined that the EU's goal of "creating a highly mobile force of some 50,000-60,000 peacekeepers by 2003 is laudable, but looks next to impossible to achieve." Defense News, 27 March 2000

40 See the Helsinki Summit Conclusions, Annex 1 to Annex IV, p. 24.

41 Richard Norton-Taylor, "Eurocorps to Run Kosovo Peace Force." The Guardian, 18 April 2000.

42 Luke Hill, "New European Force Takes on First Task in Kosovo." Defense News, 21 February 2000.

43 From an except of a speech by Rudolf Scharping at the 36th International Security Policy Conference in Munich. "Europe's Evolving Identity: Independent Capability Must Grow with Allied Ties." Defense News, 21 February 2000.

44 WEU Ministerial Council, Porto Declaration. Oporto, Portugal, 16 May 2000.

45 See Chris Patten, "The Future of the European Security and Defense Policy and the Role of the European Commission." Speech to the Conference on the Development of a Common European Security and Defense Policy — The Integration of the New Decade. Berlin, 16 December 1999.

46 Chris Patten, "The EU's Evolving Foreign Policy Dimension — The CESDP After Helsinki." Speech to the Joint Meeting of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee with Members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 22 February 2000. This remark was repeated in the EU's press release announcing the proposed Rapid Reaction Facility, 11 April 2000.

47 Not to be confused with the "Rapid Reaction Force."

48 External Relations Press Notice, "ESDP: Commission proposes Rapid Reaction Facility to mobilize Civilian Crisis Instruments." Brussels, 11 April 2000, IP/00/365.

49 Communication to the European Parliament and the Council, Rapid Reaction Facility: Proposal for a Council Regulation Creating the Rapid Reaction Facility, para 3.

50 "Modalities of Consultation and/or Participation for Non-EU European NATO Members." Appendix 1 to the Feira Summit Conclusions, p. 17.

51 The report did not define the term "exchanges", but noted instead that they would take place "at the appropriate level." Ibid, p. 18.

52 Ibid, p. 19.

53 "Principles for Consultation with NATO on Military Issues and Recommendations on Developing Modalities for EU/NATO Relations." Appendix 2 to the Feira Summit Conclusions, pp. 21-24.

54 Ibid, p. 24.

55 Ibid, p. 23.

56 Feira Summit Conclusions, para. 8.

57 Council of the European Union, "Council Decision of 22 May 2000 setting up a Committee for civilian aspects of crisis management." 2000/354/CFSP.

58 "Strengthening the CESDP," Feira Summit Conclusions, p. 11.

59 "Study on Concrete Targets on Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management," Appendix 3 to the Feira Summit Conclusions, p. 25.

60 Ibid, p. 27.

61 External Relations Press Notice, 11 April 2000.

62 Patten, 16 December 1999.

63 From a speech by Javier Solana, Secretary General/ High Representative of the European Union for the CFSP before the plenary of the European Parliament, 1 March 2000.

64 William Cohen, from a press conference with Norwegian Minister of Defense Eldbjorg Lower in Oslo, Norway, 10 July 1999. Available at

65 For example, see John Hillen's comments made at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's Rose-Roth Seminar,

66 "Military Involvement in Civilian and Humanitarian Missions." Montreux, Switzerland, 21 March 2000. The summary report of the seminar is available at

67 Nassauer, p. 24.

68 According to Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, "A New Focus and a Better Organization for the European Communities' Development Cooperation." Speech given before the Conference on Unity in Diversity, Berlin, 12 April 2000. Also see the ECHO website for more specific details and statistics on European aid assistance,

69 Cross and Nassauer, p. 4.

70 Rose-Roth Seminar, 21 March 2000.

71 Ibid.

72 The OSCE's REACT force is intended to fulfill the need to rapidly deploy civilian and police expertise to address problems before they become crises. REACT could also act as a surge capacity to assist rapid deployment of large scale or specialized operations.

73 For an example of how the EU could build a non-military police capacity to rapidly respond to "fill the gap between diplomacy and military force", see Daniel Plesch and Jack Seymour, "A Conflict Prevention Service of the European Union." BASIC Research Report 2000.2. Available at

74 Treaty on the European Union, Title V, Article 11.

75 Western European Union Council of Ministers Petersberg Declaration, Bonn, 19 June 1992. Article II, paragraph 3.

76 The North Atlantic Treaty, Washington, DC, 4 April 1949, Article 7.

77 Helsinki Summit Conclusions, para. 26.

78 This issue was addressed by Alain Barrau, Chairman of the French National Assembly's Delegation to the European Union, in his report on the EU's CFSP, which submitted to the French National Assembly on March 16, 2000.

79 Doug Bereuter, "American Perspectives on the Creation of the ESDI within the European Union." 22 February 2000.

80 From a speech by Liisa Jaakonsaari to the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Seminar, "Social Democratic Perspectives on a Common Foreign and Security Policy." Berlin, 6 - 7 April 2000.

81 From a speech delivered by Peter Kostelka, Chairman in Office of the Social Democratic Group in Parliament to the Ebert Foundation Seminar, 6-7 April 2000.

82 Jacques Chirac, Speech to the Presidential Committee of the WEU Parliamentary Assembly. Paris, 30 May 2000. Available at

83 In this context, there exists a choice for "constructive abstention," whereby a Member State may abstain from participating in an operation that is supported by a coalition of the willing.

84 Maastricht Declaration, 10 December 1991. "Role of the Western European Union and its Relations with the European Union and with the Atlantic Alliance." The Maastricht Declaration at the same time noted that "the objective is to develop the WEU as a means to strengthen the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance."

85 For a discussion on this topic, see the Report submitted on behalf of the Political Committee by Mr. Martinez Casañ, Rapporteur and Mr. Adamczyk, co-Rapporteur, "The WEU Associate Members and the New European Security Architecture." Assembly of the WEU, Document A/1690, Brussels, 10 May 2000.

86 See the Treaty on the European Union, Article 17, para. 1.

87 Luke Hill, "WEU's Armaments Cooperation Group Plans to Soldier On Alone." Defense News, 29 May 2000.

88 Ibid.

89 See the Report submitted to the Assembly of the WEU on behalf of the Political Committee by Mr. de Puig, Rapporteur, "The Consequences of Including Certain Functions of WEU in the European Union — Reply to the Annual Report of the Council." Assembly of the WEU, Document A/1689, 10 May 2000.

90 Nassauer, p. 26.

91 Luke Hill, "EU-NATO Procedural Talks Help Define Cooperation." Defense News, 7 August 2000.

92 "Common Strategy of the European Union on Russia," Annex II of the Cologne Summit Conclusions.

93 Peter von Ham, "Europe's New Defense Ambitions: Implications for NATO, the US, and Russia." Marshall Center Papers, No. 1. George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. April 2000.

94 Ibid, pp. 28-29.

95 "Common Strategy on Russia," p. 28.

96 "Strengthening the Common European Security and Defense Policy," Feira Summit Conclusions, p. 8.

97 Chris Patten, 22 February 2000.

98 According to a report by, "Diplomatic Blitzkrieg: The West Responds to Russia's Assertiveness." 11 February 2000.

99 Treaty of the European Union, Article 17.

100 Motion for a Resolution, European Parliament, 3 May 2000.

101 From a speech given by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson to the Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 15 November 1999.

102 Stanley R. Sloan, "The United States and European Defense." Chaillot Papers, No. 39. Institute for Security Studies, Western European Union. Paris, April 2000, p. 23.

103 See Sloan's study for a more extensive discussion about the varying opinions within the Clinton Administration, in Congress, and among the non-governmental elite.

104 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on European Affairs, "NATO and the EU's European Security and Defense Policy." 9 March 2000. In particular, see the testimony of Marc Grossman, Secretary of State for European Affairs and Frank Kramer, Assistance Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Both witnesses focused almost exclusively on discussion of ESDI. Available at

105 Tomas Valasek, "The European Alphabet Soup." Center for Defense Information, Weekly Defense Monitor, 6 April 2000.

106 Douglas Bereuter, 22 February 2000. The footnote in his text reads: "The United States believes the phrase 'where NATO, as a whole, is not engaged' is equivalent to the recognition of NATO's primary role in decision-making on security matters."

107 From a draft report by the Portuguese Presidency on EU/NATO relations, paras. 17-18.

108 William Cohen, Remarks delivered to the Transatlantic Forum of the Western European Union. Washington, 28 June 2000. Available at

109 Nassauer, p. 25.

110 Brooks Tigner, "US Seeks Talks with WEU Before it Disbands." Defense News, 21 February 2000.

111 "Principles for Consultation with NATO," Feira Summit Conclusions, pp. 21-22.

112 Peter Finn, "Six in NATO Upset Over EU Corps Plan." The Washington Post, 9 April 2000.

113 From a speech given by Sebahattin Çakmako, Turkish Minister of Defense, to the WEU Council of Ministers on the "WEU and the Development of ESDI and CESDP." Oporto, Portugal, 15 May 2000.

114 Ibid.

115 See the speeches of both the Czech Minister of Defense Vladimir Vetchy and Norwegian State Secretary Espen Barth Eide. WEU Council of Ministers meeting, Oporto, Portugal, 15 May 2000. Available at

116 Luke Hill, "EU-NATO Procedural Talks Help Define Cooperation." Defense News, 7 August 2000.

117 William Drozdiak, "US Tepid on European Defense Plan." The Washington Post, 7 March 2000.

118 William Drozdiak, "Cohen Criticises German Arms Cuts." The Washington Post, 2 December 1999.

119 Jim Garamone, "Cohen Ties Together European, NATO Proposals." American Forces Press Service. 4 February 2000.

120 William Cohen, "Europe Must Spend More on Defense." The Washington Post, 6 December 1999.

121 Testimony of Franklin Kramer, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 9 March 2000.

122 Douglas Hamilton, "European Rapid Reaction Force Unlikely by 2003." Reuters, 29 March 2000.

123 From a speech by Ambassador Francois Bujon de l'Estang at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, 20 April 2000. Available at

124 For examples, see George Robertson's speech to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 15 November 1999 or François Heisbourg, "European Defense Takes a Leap Forward." NATO Review, Spring-Summer 2000, Vol. 48, pp. 8-11. See also Chris Patten, 22 February 2000.

125 Treaty of the European Union, Article 296.

126 J A C Lewis, "US Giants Threatening to Overrun Europe." Jane's Defense Weekly, 9 February 2000.

127 Bertelsmann Foundation, Enhancing the European Union as an International Security Actor: A Strategy for Action. 2000, Gütersloh. p. 65.

128 Alessandra Galloni, "European States Work Toward Common Export Control." Reuters, 27 July 2000. The Agreement must still be ratified by each of the signatory states and is open for other European countries to join.

129 Kathleen Miller and Theresa Hitchens, "European Accord Threatens to Lower Export Controls." British American Security Information Council Occasional Paper No. 33, August 2000.

130  Ibid.

131 For more description, see the Report submitted to the WEU Assembly by Mr. Colvin, Rapporteur, on behalf of the Defense Committee, "European Armaments Restructuring and the Role of the WEU," Document 1623, 9 November 1998, paras. 31-37.

132 Franklin Kramer, testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 9 March 2000.

133 See Colin Clark, "Losers Complain Politics Steered Germany's Engine Choice for NH-90." Defense News, 19 June 2000.

134 Noah Barkin, "Europe Unites on Airbus Military Plane." Reuters, 27 July 2000.

135 Douglas Hamilton, "European Rapid Reaction Force Unlikely by 2003." Reuters, 29 March 2000.

136 Patten, 22 February 2000

136 Ian Black, "Fury as Envoys Vote for Military Secrecy." The Guardian (UK), 27 July 2000.

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