EU Defence Policy Part One

In this series of posts I will be looking at the European Unions defence policy.

Yes they have one.

This post, a quick overview of what the policy is and its rough workings.

Part two will look at current deployments in more detail and the third part will look at the future.

A Quick Video to Explain

EU MILITARY STAFF – "Who we are, what we do"

This confuses a lot of pro European Union people especially in the UK as they don’t even know this exists

Recent EU deployments under the European Unions Mission.

Current EU Deployments (with brief overview)

  • European Union Military Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR Althea). Taken over from KOFOR in December 2004, does exactly the same mission as the previous force.
  • European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM). Polices the border between Moldova and Ukraine to prevent smuggling and trafficking of arms.
  • European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM Georgia). Monitors the south Ossetia border region
  • European Union Security Sector Reform Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (EUSEC RD Congo). Training RDC ministry of defence.
  • European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta) Plus Training Mission. Anti Piracy mission
  • European Union Mali Training Mission (EUTM Mali). Many people thought this was a French lead mission but actually was sanctioned by the EU external action service, they provide training and assistance for the Mali armed forces.
  • European Union Military Operation in Libya (EUFOR Libya). Reconstruction mission
  • European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS). Training local police forces

What is stated on the European Unions website?

The Lisbon Treaty (2009) led to major developments in the area of external action, with the creation of the post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the establishment of the EU’s diplomatic arm, the European External Action Service (EEAS).

The High Representative – a post currently held by Catherine Ashton – exercises, in foreign affairs, the functions previously held by the six-monthly rotating Presidency, the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Commissioner for External Relations.

According to her mandate, the High Representative;

  • conducts the Union’s common foreign and security policy;
  • contributes by her proposals to the development of that policy, which she carries out as mandated by the Council, and ensures implementation of the decisions adopted;
  • presides over the Foreign Affairs Council of Ministers;
  • is one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission and thus ensures the consistency of the Union’s external action.
  • represents the Union for matters relating to the common foreign and security policy, conducts political dialogue with third parties on the Union’s behalf and expresses the Union’s position in international fora.
  • exercises authority over the European External Action Service and over EU delegations in third countries and at international organisations.

Using this logic alongside a commission of General Staff from contributing nations with a 6 Billion Euro budget…

They have in effect the same powers to conduct peacekeeping missions and training missions like regular normal nations. They have to consult members states of course but with the way the EU is expanding only a majority votes is needed.


EUBG European Union Battle Group live firing training exercises training camp Grafenwoehr Germany


EU Battlegroups

This is where contributing troops come from just to clear that question up.

Member states can turn down deploying troops on these missions. British forces for example are not part of the EU lead mission in Somalia.

There is an argument for a standing EU army, the creation of the external action service was the first real step but due to political reasons a standing army is not possible.



About The Author

British and European Historian focusing mainly on pre 1900. Has contributed to a book on the Napoleonic era and Head of History Guys. A proud member of the London regiment

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July 11, 2014 9:02 pm

Good thing the observers were inserted into Georgia in time.

There are no eye witnesses for the use of this weapon by the Russians in Chechnya
– the article explains why

They found the air-delivery of jet-air-fuel bombs too inaccurate to suppress bunkers, so a “flametrower” with a 3 km range and added thermobaric effect was employed.
– and we thought ex-Yugoslavia was bad…

July 11, 2014 9:27 pm

Thanks, I look forward to what should be an interesting topic that we do not get to hear a lot about.

July 12, 2014 3:24 am

Interesting topic and one we don’t look at enough.

I for one think that there is some sense in the EU defence policy. It has managed to carve itself a worth while niche in peace keeping and training mission on Europe’s periferal.

Its a mission that NATO is not always well suited to and the two alliances seem to complement each other well in this regard.

That being said no amount of alliances will compensate for Europe’s penny pinching on defence spending or bad acquisition programs that have more to do with providing jobs than hard defence capability.