domenica 22 febbraio 2015

The Treaty of Lisbon and the common European defense policy

The Treaty of Lisbon of 2007, officially entered into force in 2009, has introduced significant innovations in relation to the European system of defense and security.
The desire to create an active cooperation regarding defense and security amongst European countries has ancient roots and has gone through ups and downs. In 1952 was expressed the desire to create the European Defense Community (EDC), which provided for the creation of a joint European army under the command of NATO. However, two years later the EDC project was rejected because of the opposition expressed by France. Meanwhile, in 1954, Italy and Western Germany joined the Treaty of Brussels of 1948, giving birth to an international organization that guaranteed political and defense cooperation known as Western European Union (WEU). Thus, this organization included France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Italy and Western Germany. At the same time, the cooperation to coordinate European foreign affairs was also evolving, through the birth of the European Political Cooperation (EPC) in 1970. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Maastricht (1992), which truly established the ultimate European Union, the EPC turned into the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), entitled to express herself through common actions and common positions. Likewise, in 1992, the Petersberg Declaration founded the so-called “Petersberg tasks”, that is military operations carried out jointly by the EU and NATO. The next step, in 1996, saw the supreme military command of NATO accepting that European officers within NATO could cover leadership roles in the WEU: the proclamation of the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) confirmed it. The Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) established the possibility to undertake even of Petersberg tasks within the WEU. Between 1998 and 1999, the European cooperation project for defense reached a turning point. In fact, in 1998, policymakers began to speak about a Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), which saw the birth in 1999 when NATO had decided to adopt a new strategic concept to counter the future threats to world peace and security. Moreover, in 1999, the European Council of Helsinki stated that Europe was willing to continue to foster an active partnership with NATO in the field of security policy. With the gradual decline of the WEU, in the year 2000 the Petersberg tasks were included within the EU. Since 2002, the EU started her missions. The first civil mission, placed under the aegis of the United Nations, was that in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2003, the first EU military mission without NATO involvement occurred in Congo. Again, in 2005, a following civil-military mission in Congo took place, and in 2008, the first naval military mission in Somalia. Between 2002 and 2003, three important changes were introduced: the conclusion of the “Berlin Plus” arrangements, through which the EU could use NATO facilities for joint missions (2002); the adoption of a new European Security Strategy (ESS; 2003); the birth of the European Defense Agency (EDA; 2004). Henceforward, the changes framed by the Treaty of Lisbon were introduced upon this dynamical background.
Flag of the Western European Union
The Treaty on the European Union (TEU), as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) announced significant modifications in the European defensive system. Firstly, the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) is comprised within the CFSP and uses both civil and military tools to achieve its goals: this means that it is empowered to set out civil and military missions. It is also reaffirmed the relevance of the EDA, a CFSP body, that contemplates summits amongst the Defense Ministers of the EU member States for a starker cooperation. The Treaty of Lisbon states that the bodies entitled to implement the CFSP are the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the member States (the European Commission and the European Parliament play a minor role in this subject). Accordingly, the decisions regarding the CSDP are approved by the Council of the EU on a proposal of the High Representative or of a member State: these decisions must be sanctioned unanimously and the abstention of a member shall not preclude the adoption of the decision (i.e. the “constructive abstention”). Once the decisions are approved, the Council of the EU entrusts the missions to a group of member States. Secondly, another novelty introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon is the clear statement that if third States attack one or more EU States, all EU members will intervene to support the attacked member in accordance with what article 51 of the UN Charter alleges: therefore, in this day and age the EU truly embodies the example of a defensive alliance (i.e. “mutual defense clause”). Likewise, the Petersberg tasks are improved through a closer strategic relationship between the EU and NATO. A solidarity clause has been introduced, that vouches for a joint effort in dealing with threats like terrorist attacks or natural calamities. Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon ensures a reinforced cooperation in all fields of the CFSP and CSDP, structuring it in permanent and fixed bodies.
The EUMS and NATO's IMS gathering in Brussels in 2014  
The main institutional bodies entrusted to pursue the CSDP are three, sided by several minor ones.  One of the most relevant is the European Union Military Committee (EUMC), which provides summits amongst the Chiefs of Staff of the EU States and aims at sponsoring the military cooperation, preventing the break out of conflicts, outlining the military strategies, etc. Another body is the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) entitled to raise in due time the alarm on the outbreak of a crisis, to evaluate the sensitive areas, to plan the military strategies, etc. The third main body is the European Defense Agency (EDA), which gathers the Defense Ministers of the EU States and is headed by the High Representative, who, according to the Treaty of Lisbon, also holds the office of Vice-president of the European Commission (one of many) and of European Commissioner for External Relations.                                      
The main threats for European defense and security, as the European strategy papers reveal, are international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the conflicts in neighboring regions, the organized crime and the natural or human calamities. Bearing in mind these challenges, the European strategies underscore the active role that the EU is called to play in sensitive bordering areas like the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East and Northern Africa and the necessity that the EU will endeavor a close cooperation with other international organizations like the UN, NATO and the OSCE, as well with influent States like China, Russia, India, Brazil, etc.     
The EULEX Headquarters in Prishtina, Kosovo  
The EU military missions can be of two kinds: autonomous military missions and joint military missions with NATO according to the “Berlin Plus” agreements. In the former case, the management and control of the operations is usually entrusted to a framework nation that has a major influence in the area of the crisis (this was the case of France in the mission in Congo of 2005), otherwise the European Union Operations Center (EUOC) will decide. In the latter case, the command of the mission is devolved to NATO and the EU will be entitled to use its logistic facilities.
Up to today, the EU missions were of four types: 1) military operations (e.g. Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo); 2) civil missions (e.g. EULEX in Kosovo); 3) civil-military missions (e.g. EU SSR in Guinea-Bissau); 4) joint EU-NATO missions (e.g. EUFOR Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina).                           
With regard to the funding, the civil missions are supported by the EU’s ordinary budget, whereas the military ones by the specific member States involved.


Howorth, J., Security and Defence Policy in the European Union, 2007.

Keukeleire, S., and MacNaughtan, J., The Foreign Policy of the European Union, 2008.   


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