The structures of Europe of defence
By Nicolas Gros-Verheyde | Tuesday 28 October 2008
1. Political, legislative and legal structures
The EU Council of Ministers
The defence ministers meet four times a year, twice during each half-yearly Presidency. One is informal and generally held in the country holding the Presidency; the other is formal and takes place in Brussels with the foreign ministers (usually in May and November). There is no official Council formation for the defence ministers alone.
These meetings generally provide an opportunity to review operations in progress and the development of European defence capability (means). The meeting is chaired by the minister from the country holding the EU Presidency. It is usually twinned with a ministerial meeting of the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency for formal approval of certain budget decisions.
The European Parliament
A Defence and Security Subcommittee has been set up in the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (chaired by German MEP Karl Von Wogau, CDU-EPP). In the name of democratic representation, it provides follow-up of ESDP, conducts hearings of different officials and experts and publishes reports on security and defence subjects. The European Parliament's power is limited: it is simply informed of military operations. This situation irritates MEPs, who expressed their discontent in a resolution adopted on 23 October (on the operation in Somalia).
Parliament is not totally powerless, however. It must be 'consulted' on the orientation of the CFSP. The Union Presidency must also "ensure that the European Parliament's views are taken duly into account". Above all, Parliament has the power to pass the EU's external relations budget, which finances ESDP civilian operations. This gives the EP considerable leverage. It also has the power to express its opinion (in co-decision) on directives or decisions that regulate the defence industry market.
There is also a Western European Union (WEU) Assembly - the remnants of this organisation that merged with the EU - but its powers are very limited (resolutions and reports).
The European Commission
The European Commission usually has no power of initiative on defence. However, through its preparation of the EU budget and various economic instruments (such as the stability instrument and the neighbourhood policy), it is a key player in crisis management. Several units in the Directorate-General for External Relations (DG Relex) monitor all these issues (defence, crisis management, stability). The Commission also has two direct intervention tools: humanitarian aid (managed by ECHO) the European Union is the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid and the civil protection mechanism (CPM). For the opening up of defence markets, the Commission has the usual arsenal of legislative initiative and internal market control (infringement procedure). Its role should be stronger once the two directives (public procurement and transfer of defence-related products) are adopted. These subjects are monitored by DG Internal Market and DG Enterprise, respectively, headed by Commissioners Charlie McCreevy and Gnter Verheugen.
The EC Court of Justice
Like the other Community institutions, the Court of Justice is not empowered to control military operations directly. Its president may nonetheless be called to the rescue in case of a dispute over the appointment of arbitrators charged with working out amicable settlements for injury caused by European Union troops in a non-EU state (a matter generally treated in status-of-forces agreements or SOFA).
The Court has full competence for internal market matters, in particular for controlling the use member states make of Article 296 (national security reservation for application of European rules).
2. Administrative and military structures
The Council Secretariat
This body is the administrative mainspring for preparation of all decisions by the high representative or the Political and Security Committee. Issues are handled at the External Relations Directorate-General (DG E, headed by Britain's Robert Cooper) in two specific directorates: defence matters in DG E8 (directed by Claude-France Arnoult, France) and civilian crisis management in DG E9 (headed by Mika-Markus Leinonen, Finland).
The EU Military Committee (EUMC)
This is the highest military body in the EU. It is composed of the military chiefs of staff of each EU country (except Denmark), who are represented by their military representatives (MilRep). It issues recommendations and opinions to the Political and Security Committee (PSC) on military issues as varied as the crisis management concept (a document drawn up prior to launch of an operation), estimates of costs of operations and exercises, and military relations with applicant countries, non-EU states and international organisations. The EUMC also finalises the different concepts of military action. Its chairman a military chief of staff is appointed by his peers for three years. The EUMC is currently chaired by French General Henri Bentegeat.
Created at the Helsinki summit, on 10 and 11 December 1999, it was made official by a Council decision of 22 January 2001.
The Military Staff of the European Union (EUMS)
The EUMS is the source of the Union's military expertise. It has three main functions: early warning, situation assessment and strategic planning for European Union missions. It is also tasked with implementing policies and decisions. In that connection, it contributes to the drafting, evaluation and review of objectives in terms of military capabilities. The Military Staff has been headed by British General David Leakey, since 1 March 2007. It is made up of around 200 people, most of whom are seconded from member states.
The question of strengthening the EUMS to transform it into a command centre capable of managing EU military operations is on the agenda. There is no consensus so far, however, between states supporting the idea (France, Belgium and others) and those with misgivings (particularly the UK, but also the Czech Republic), because they fear that such a move will create competition with NATO.
The military operations centre (or headquarters)
Based in the EU Military Staff, the European Union Operations Centre (EU OpsCentre) can begin planning EU civilian or military operations within five days following a decision by the Council of Ministers. To date, it has never served as such. In contrast, a monitoring unit is active 24 hours a day and could serve as the embryonic version of this operating headquarters (OHQ).
Five other operating headquarters exist in the member states and can be activated with the agreement of the country concerned: Paris Mont Valrien (France activated for the EUFOR Chad operation), Potsdam (Germany activated for EUFOR Congo), Northwood (United Kingdom activated for the Somalia anti-piracy operation), Rome (Italy) and Larissa (Greece). The NATO General Headquarters (Shape, based in Mons, Belgium) is also activated for 'Berlin Plus' operations (Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina).
The civilian crisis management staff headquarters (CCPC)
Its official title is Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) but this centre is in fact a real civilian crisis management staff headquarters. Its 60-odd staff members manage all EU civilian missions. The CPCC is headed by a Dutch national, Kees Klompenhouwer, appointed in May 2008, who is the authority in charge of all civilian operations. All heads of mission receive instructions, advice and technical support from him. The civilian operations commander also has a general mission of ensuring proper and effective implementation of Council and PSC decisions.
The Situation Centre (SitCen)
Attached directly to the high representative, the European Union Situation Centre (SitCen) provides intelligence, analysis and warning capacity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It plays the role of a European intelligence service even though its resources are limited. Using both public and classified information provided by the member states and EU institutions, it provides ongoing monitoring of current events as well as analyses or medium-term assessments of all geographical or thematic issues with European implications. It is directed by Britain's William Shapcott.
3. EU agencies
The European Defence Agency (Brussels)
Created in anticipation of the EU Constitution, in July 2004, the European Defence Agency is one of the most recent ESDP creations. Its role is to serve as a link between operations and the industry. It optimises the technological and industrial aspects of national defence industry policies in order to respond more effectively to European needs. The agency also works on ad hoc projects financed by the member states, such as the Franco-British initiative for the modernisation of helicopters.
Its operating budget is fairly limited and established year to year, which rules out any medium-term programming allowing a genuine European defence research and technology policy. The EDA (
www.eda.eu) is directed by Germany's Alexander Weis.
The European Union Satellite Centre (Torrejon)
The Satellite Centre, set up in 2001 in Torrejn de Ardoz (Spain), took over the operations of the WEU Satellite Centre. It provided images for the United Nations mission in DRC (MONUC) and the EUFOR Chad military operation. One of its experts is a member of the United Nations fact-finding mission on the drones shot down in Georgia (before the war was triggered). The centre (
www.eusc.europa.eu) is headed by Frank Rainer Asbeck of Germany.
The European Union Institute for Security Studies (ISS, Paris)
The ISS succeeded, in January 2002, the WEU Security Studies Institute. It serves as the university centre for research and debate on EU security issues. The institute conducts research and analyses on strategic geographical zones such as the Middle East, Kosovo, Iraq, relations with Russia and the United States and battle groups. Its studies are often published in the 'Cahiers de Chaillot'. The ISS (
www.iss-eu.org) is directed by lvaro de Vasconcelos of Portugal.
The European Security and Defence College (Brussels)
Operational since 1 January 2006, the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) has the aim of forging a common defence and security culture among the member states through common training. Such training in all areas of the ESDP targets high-level players (diplomats, military staff and others). The ESDC does not have its own structure (such as instructors and classrooms) but is based on a network of European security and defence training institutions. Coordination is provided by two people in the Council's Secretariat General (alumni network and administrative support). The idea of giving the college more means, such as a permanent structure and classrooms, is still under discussion.
After the failure of the European Defence Community (EDC) due to rejection by France, in 1954, foreign policy was conspicuous by its absence during Europe's early years and notably in the Treaty of Rome (1957). It emerged on the agenda in June 1970, when the foreign ministers of the six member states proposed to develop European political cooperation (EPC). This cooperation grew slowly, convening more meetings, establishing the European network of diplomatic information (COREU), but remained very informal. With the advent of the Single Act, in 1986, and the Treaty of Maastricht, in 1992, it was given a minimal legal and institutional basis.
Its new form proved insufficient, however, as demonstrated by the conflicts in Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1990s. The Europeans' obvious failure (especially in Croatia and Bosnia) would spur all future reforms. In the midst of conflict, the WEU (Western European Union) ministers therefore drew up the broad outlines of European defence policy. These 'Petersberg tasks' were written into the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), which created the function of high representative to coordinate the Common Foreign and Security Policy. That post has been held since 1999 by former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana of Spain.
A Franco-British initiative in Saint-Malo (December 1998) really triggered European defence policy, calling for the Union to be given "the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces and the means to decide to use them". These objectives were agreed by the 15 heads of state and government at the Cologne European Council (June 1999). They endorsed in Helsinki (December 1999) the structure of a European rapid reaction force capable of deploying up to 60,000 troops in 60 days.
The Treaty of Nice (2000) added decision making structures such as the Political and Security Committee (PSC), made up of the EU's 'security' ambassadors, and the EU Military Committee, composed of military chiefs of staff or their representatives. European defence policy was declared operational at the Laeken-Brussels summit (2001). A European security strategy was drawn up (2003) in a context of European division over the American intervention in Iraq. An agreement (known as 'Berlin-Plus') was signed with NATO to ensure EU access to the Atlantic organisation's means during military operations (March 2003). The first external operations then began to be deployed (Macedonia, Bosnia, Indonesia, Congo).
The European Defence Agency was created (in July 2004) with the aim of developing industrial cooperation and strengthening the capabilities of the different member states. An EU military staff was put in place and given an operations centre in 2007. The crisis management headquarters and the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) centre followed in 2008.