|The European quest for security and defence integration: challenges ahead
Joao Marcelo Dalla Costa M.A.1
Even with the difficulties and failures during its 38 years of existence, the European political cooperation offer us a perfect empirical test on the logic of institutionalization as a self-steering process which involves different aspects such as intergovernmental bargains, bounded rationality and socialization. During the analysis we will be able to observe the covariance between the transformation of an informal loose discussion forum (such as the EPC) to a formal legally-binding institution (as the CFSP/ESDP) and the political cooperation first as a tool to prevent conflicts inside the community and then as a crisis management mechanism of the institution to the outside world. This, albeit the difficulties and failures, further indicates that exists an “invisible hand” of institutionalization that operates in this framework which we aim to explain.
Key-words: European Political Cooperation – Common Foreign and Security Policy – European Security and Defence Policy – conflict prevention – crisis management
This article aims to present the institutional development in Europe in the field of security and defence. We point out different theories which in our view better answer the question of how an informal discussion forum like the European Political Cooperation (EPC) developed into a formal legally-binding institution as the CFSP/ESDP (Common Foreign and Security Policy/European Security and Defence Policy). This should be observed in terms of autonomous institutional dynamics and within a theoretical framework that takes complex institutional learning and feed-back mechanisms seriously2. However we will not have enough time and space to develop in this paper what we would call an inter-paradigmatic analysis of European integration taking into account the inference on the development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). In further work, we will present this how this inter-paradigmatic approach works and we intend to contrast the inference against other political integration schemes (i.e. ASEAN, MERCOSUR, etc.) in order to present a general framework of analysis of political integration3.
The relevance of the theme is remarkable since the importance of political integration as a tool for conflict prevention and conflict resolution4. As we have seen in the cases of failed response coordination in terms of foreign policy and also the absent capability to perform joint tasks on crucial issues of security and defence (Iraq, Yugoslavia, etc.), the Europeans either clashed over foreign policy issues and each State took an individual position or they have resorted to NATO and the United States lead. Every time the Europeans clash for those issues or are unable to satisfy the capabilities-expectations gap5 it leaves the impression that the EU is not a reliable partner even when it comes to solve the problems which have direct influence over the European security and defence.
To conceptualize the European political integration and develop a framework of analyse capable to fully capture the integration dynamics we will proceed as following: 1. point out the theories that better assesses the European political integration. 2. present and make some insights on the historical development of the European political cooperation to the establishment of the European Security and Defence Policy. 3. point to the challenges of the political integration of the Union in face not only the internal crisis (policy coordination, lack of capabilities) but also relate it to the external pressures (Kosovo, Congo, Afghanistan). In the next opportunity we will develop our theoretical model and contrast de evidences of political integration in Europe with other integration schemes, taking into account the possibility that the insights of the theory be general to other integration processes (e.g. Mercosur).
Moreover as we will see in the paper, the more the informal European political integration turns into a formal institution more it turns to the outside world developing its external capabilities of crisis management. Therefore, within this framework it will be possible to define the European political integration first of all as a tool to prevent conflicts inside the community and preserve stability and peace. Second it will enable us to understand how this tool transforms and takes a pro-active role on crisis management and conflict resolution, incorporating the “Petersberg Tasks” in 1999 with the European Council of Cologne, enhancing the EU military capabilities with the Helsinki Headline Goals and the European Capabilities Action Plan (Laeken Summit), and consolidating itself on the 2003 European Security Strategy which points terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflict, failed States, and organized crime as major threats to the Union.
The European experience in political integration is the most advanced in the world, especially in terms of Foreign Policy coordination and Defense issues6. Starting with the failed European Defense Community (EDC) and the European Political Community during the 1950’s, and the Fouchet Plans of the 1960’s, the successful European experience to coordinate the foreign policies in areas other than economic affairs started with the European Political Cooperation (EPC) on November 19707. Even though the structure of the EPC was established outside the framework of the European Communities (EC), it has developed in a way that by the Maastricht Treaty (Treaty of the European Union - TEU) in 1991 was replaced by the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) which by its turn incorporated with the Treaty of Amsterdam the defense component, the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP)8.
In this part we will analyze the theoretical framework to explain the evolution of the European political integration process since the European Political Cooperation (EPC), analyzing it through the examination of the relationship between the development of the socialization networks, the institutional framework and the spill-over effect and cooperation on foreign policy and defense between the member-States.
The main difficulty on presenting a theoretical framework for the European integration on security and defense is its multifaceted character combining aspects of intergovernmentalism, institutionalism and socialization. As Michael E. Smith9 expresses, the main challenge is
“to understand the various processes by which an informal, extra-legal, ad hoc, improvised system gradually fostered the achievement of cooperative outcomes and progressively enhanced its own procedures to improve the prospects for those outcomes.”
Thus our primary objective is to determine the causal chain between the progressive development through the intergovernmental bargains, socialization process and institutional spill-over and the institutionalized cooperation in foreign policy and defence issues at the EU level. Thus cooperation happens when actors adapt its policies and behaviour to the preference of the others through process of policy coordination10. That means for cooperation to emerge States perceive they have not the same interests in a given choice situation, but still they attempt to accommodate their interests with the others, especially in situations when the costs and benefits of cooperation are difficult to measure, as in the EU foreign policy.
We notice that cooperation can emerge even in the absence of regimes or institutions, and it does not depend on realist antecedent conditions to operate, which broader its use. For instance, the structural neorealism argues that order emerges out of a world of self-interested actors according to the distribution of power (in material terms) and such order results from the presence of a hegemonic state or a group of states struggling for power11. Nevertheless, however the military umbrella established by the United States to protect Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War enhance the initial drive for European integration, the EU foreign policy and defence cooperation cannot solely be understood due to the international balance of power. Nor can it be understood only as a way to prevent a powerful Germany to rise from the ashes. The United States were not always able to dictate the terms of the EU integration12 and the cooperation in the EU has taken place not only during the bipolar system but also in the unipolar world. The same can be said about the theories that point a specific external threat as a dependent factor for cooperation to emerge in the EU foreign policy13. The Europeans cooperated despite the fluctuation in the US-Soviet relationship during the Cold War, continue to cooperate after the fall of the Soviet Empire, have not always accepted passively the US policies and continues to develop its own military capabilities albeit the NATO. That means there is no systematic causal relationship between the policies of the superpowers and those of the EU. And even inside the EU one is not able to explain cooperation in terms of behaviour of the three regional hegemons (France, Germany and United Kingdom)14. From the formal point of view, or the codification of the CFSP/ESDP in reports or treaties, the agreements between the big states have been necessary but the small states have played a major role on the development of a common foreign and security policy in regard to the policies and procedural developments. Also the reports and treaties respond to prior changes in daily basis procedural and habits worked among officials in charge of the EU foreign policy. Nonetheless, the foreign policy and defence capabilities of the Union have been increased albeit the resistance of some big member-states (mainly UK and France)15.
The limitations of the realist theory are assessed by the liberal theories which involve interdependence and institutions. As Keohane and Nye16 suggest, interdependence theories propose that complete national autonomy is almost impossible to sustain in an interdependent world when issues become increasingly entangled with each other. Then due to the costs and benefits involved in this entanglement, states tend to cooperate to solve common problems and enhance the potential joint gains. According to the same sense, Ginsberg17 argues that not only the “interdependence logic18” but mainly the “regional integration logic19” can account for most foreign policy actions taken by the EU. Those theories have a broader explanatory power than the realist approach but they still fail to grasp how common values and preferences are related or defined and how they turn into policies that cause cooperative action. In other words, it fails to explain the form and nature of cooperation taking into account how values and preferences change and influence state behaviour and the institution.
While most of realists remain very sceptical of the relationship between institutions and cooperation20 other theories of institutional development may better grasp this issue. The "new institutionalist theory" is the one that convincingly assesses how the European Security and Defence Policy developed over the last three decades21. The new institutionalist theory, however, fails in grasping the intergovernmental dynamics of the integration process sufficiently. Therefore, we supplement this perspective with neoliberal approaches to international cooperation such as regime theory22 and liberal intergovernmentalism23. For those theories, the realist concepts of anarchy, state-centrism and national security do make sense but should be placed within the context of growing interdependencies. In this context, international institutions help states to cooperate by providing useful information, by lowering the transactions costs of policy coordination, and by establishing reliable bargaining arenas, where governments can reach agreements24.
Neoliberal approaches to international cooperation are strong in explaining the emergence of international institutions given clear-cut and fixed national preferences. In order to better understand the dynamics of preference formation and change, that proofed to be of major importance in the field of European Integration, we apply also constructivist approaches to international politics. These approaches focus on intersubjective ideas, knowledge and discourse. They conceptualize actors as passive, rule-following entities which are reproducing and reforming social structures25. Its usefulness for our research is due to its recognition that institutions can have positive and negative effects on cooperation26, and that interest and even identities on which those interests are based can be shaped by the institution or the social structure.
By combining these theories in a multi-step model that takes learning seriously, we will be able to overcome the shortcuts of each of them separately. Moreover, it will enable us to understand institutionalization as a dynamic process.
We understand institutionalization as a dynamic process which consists of cumulative knowledge on decisions regarding cooperative outcomes (learning process) and institutional change. It is important to recognize the relevance of powerful actors but also argue that during the institutional development, the institution can constrain those actors and empower others27.
The concept of bounded rationality regularly used by new institutionalists might be helpful to explain this process. It suggests that, even though the actors have self-serving preferences when they decide to join the institution, they either lack the necessary information to make optimal decisions or they are overwhelmed with information to process. When states are unable to define the issues under contention or to measure the costs and benefits of alternative options precisely, the predictive power of rationalist models that operate within the metatheoretical framework of an individualist logic of consequentiality will be crucially weakened. They have to be either replaced or at least supplemented by other logics that better account for the emergent institutional dynamics28.
To analyse the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) we must look backwards to the institutionalization of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)29 and how institutional changes were incorporated and transformed the European political cooperation. We have to clarify how this process evolves form of a loose discussion forum such as the European Political Cooperation (EPC) into an formally institutionalized, legally binding policy-making process which produces common positions and joint actions in global scale.
The long way to political cooperation: from EPC to CFSP/ESDP
The years before: from EDC to Elysée
The 1954 failed French plans to develop a European Defence Community30 (EDC) with the “Pleven Plan”, which would work in the framework of a European Political Community following the lines of the European Community (EC)31 left two immediate legacies: first, the German and Italian rearmament was left a issue to the Western European Union (WEU) which had most of its security and defence functions transferred to the NATO. Second it was a common sense that a political union in Western Europe should start in an informal or indirectly way32.
On his comeback to the French presidency, Charles de Gaulle proposed a three-power directorate which would serve as a political cooperation framework33 for the Americans, British and French. This idea was immediately rejected by Americans and British, turning the attention of the French towards continental Europe (West Germany, Italy and the BENELUX States). The French government suggested they should hold informal talks between the foreign ministers in order to discuss foreign policy issues. An agreement was reached in November 1959 but defence matters were excluded from the meetings and they would focus mainly on European instead of Atlantic issues.
This intergovernmental agreement, even tough its limitations and its problematic relationship with the United States, furnished the basis of the Luxemburg Report ten years latter. This was a major step in developing the conflict prevention system inside Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was also recognition that the efforts for economic integration would have impacts on political relations too34. Due to its ineffectiveness in producing coordinate actions, the French, with the support of the German, proposed a political union based on intergovernmental meetings and a secretariat in Paris but the EC small States, led by the Dutch promptly rejected the French proposition fearing that some kind of Political Committee dominated by the French or the German could undermine the EC which at the time was still fragile.
Replying to the Dutch concerns, there were suggested some ideas to develop a loose intergorvernmental procedure to promote political integration which would enjoy no permanent secretariat. In this sense a study commission led by the French ambassador in Denmark, Christian Fouchet was set up. The main idea of the “Fouchet Plans” was to create a new council of heads of State or government with powers to “harmonize, coordinate, and unite the foreign, economic, cultural, and defence policies of the Six”35. The proposal failed again due to resistance of small EC States, now led by Belgium. Even tough the Fouchet Plans were revised to try to reconcile the intergovernmental and supranational visions of political cooperation that divided the Europeans; it failed to grasp the divide.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic Alliance through the close relationship between United States and United Kingdom, was managing all defence and security issues at the European level, what made the French president Charles de Gaulle veto the UK application to join the EC36 and resume the efforts to find a “European way” to political integration based on the Franco-German Treaty of Cooperation (called Elysée Treaty). This Treaty signed in January 1963 established a close cooperation between France and Germany on issues of foreign policy, defence and culture, but the Germans wanted it to refer explicitly to the cooperation in the framework of the Atlantic Alliance, thus blocking an independent European defence policy. In this sense, as the French could not find resonance for its proposal of creating a defence policy more independent from the Atlantic Alliance and they were not willing to accept any kind of foreign policy cooperation which would not include the defence component, the political cooperation at the European level stalled for the rest of the decade37.
The Luxemburg Report and the EPC
A couple of years later, the idea of a greater political integration at the European level regained power due to enlargement perspectives of the EC, the final stage of the Common Market, the inability even to discuss the Six-Day War, and as Charles de Gaulle stepped down as French president. In this sense, the debate about an institutionalized EU foreign policy restarted with the Hague Summit in December 1969 in which the foreign ministers of the Six were instructed to study the best way to achieve political unification38 thus “paving the way for a united Europe capable of assuming its responsibilities in the world of tomorrow and of making a contribution commensurate with its traditions and its mission”39 . The foreign ministers of the Six passed the instruction to the Political Directors which were responsible to draft the Luxemburg Report (called Davignon Report). This report created the European Political Cooperation (EPC).
The ghost of the failed EDC and Fouchet Plans haunted the negotiators during the deliberations40, which means that the participants of the negotiation did not want to open the Pandora’s Box of discussing the views of intergovernmental or supranational political unification which lead to the collapse of previous attempts. They were aware also that the perspectives of enlargement and especially the inclusion of a major power like the UK could undermine the efforts already made to coordinate the policies of the Six. Moreover, France and Germany were unable to assume a bigger part of the leadership and the US was still standing against the idea of a more politically independent EU.
Contrary to its predecessors (the EDC and the Fouchet Plans), the EPC was successful first because there were many opportunities for self-interested bargaining mainly due to the French concerns on keeping it intergovernmental and the enlargement of the EC. Secondly, EPC gave away the main problem of its predecessors, it was neither supranational or federal like the EDC nor completely intergovernmental and separate from the EC like the Fouchet Plans41. What is most important about the creation of the EPC was the recognition that at least some political coordination and cooperation are utterly relevant to avoid the harm of the EC, its policies and relations between its members-States and between the EC and the external world. Therefore we can argue that one of the most important achievements of the political cooperation in Europe was to avoid internal disruption due to extremely different political views. Further, it gave a voice to member-states in the international arena that by the 1980´s it was a tool of preventive diplomacy in the East-West relations, the Middle East and Southern Europe42.
According to the framework proposed by the Luxemburg Report, the idea of a common foreign policy was discharged, or at least omitted. The defence issues were not to be discussed in the EPC but in NATO, following the concerns from Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK of interfering with NATO politics. The institutional framework of the EPC was also very loose. The foreign ministers should meet at least twice to discuss international problems however there were no specific decision-making mechanisms for producing coordinate foreign policies positions and taking common actions. Coordination was to be delivered by the Political Committee regular meetings which were composed of national Political Directors. Some countries had to create the position of Political Director in its foreign Ministry due to the EPC (e.g. UK). This is a small evidence on how the EPC somehow impacted the domestic political system of the member-states43. The Luxemburg Report also required that in the absence of a secretariat, each member-state should designate a liaison official to hold responsible for the EPC in a daily basis. Later those officials were known as “European Correspondents”. We can conclude that the EPC according to Luxemburg Report had a scarce institutional sphere, was dependent of the national foreign ministries and limited the participation of the EC procedures and organizations, even though it recognizes the legitimacy of the EC and established an informal biannual colloquy between foreign ministers and members of the EP44.
The EPC was the perfect system for states who preferred to cooperated informally: it had no permanent budget, finances and staff during many years, had no fixed meeting place, no secretariat, no specific subject to start the discussions, no compliance standards, record-keeping system, legal obligations, or enforcement mechanisms. Its administrative infrastructure was carried out exclusively by the foreign ministries of its member-states and the three most important documents until the 1981: the Luxemburg Report, Copenhagen Report and London Report, had no treaty status therefore didn’t need parliamentary ratification. This was a perfect system for States that wanted to avoid explicit, formal and visible pledges so they could easily renegotiate its commitments and develop or abolish the system at the pace they desired45. Nonetheless the lessons of the failed attempts to political cooperation showed the negotiators involved in the creation of the EPC that a more formal, legally binding agreement would be impossible at that time.
From the theoretical point of view what we can see until now is the importance of the role played by power (leadership of France, Germany and UK), functionalism (bargaining and side-payments), the logic of appropriateness46 (flexibility and changes related to the aims of integration and to relationship with the EC) and socialization processes (negotiators learning from past mistakes and developing new strategies based on past experiences). This theoretical view proposes that intergovernmentalism is a useful theory to analyse the formation of the EPC in terms of a big bargain in the EU History and also single episodes of cooperation. The problem with intergovernmentalism is that it leaves aside many important factors that are better understood from an institutionalist perspective. Most of all, it fails to explain how the EPC transformed itself over time and became not a supranational entity but more than an intergovernmental arena47.
Informal networks of political cooperation: Copenhagen and London Reports
With the Copenhagen Report of 1973 and the London Report of 1981, the EPC gained weight and showed the importance of informal cooperation to European political integration. The Copenhagen Report created a transgovernmental infrastructure which gave rise to a broad information-sharing structure (combination of actors involved, types of information and channels of communication) that helped to prevent clashes on foreign policy interests among EU member-states and even stimulated the coordination and cooperation of policy views with the goal of solving common problems48. According to Michael E. Smith, “many of these … [information-sharing] … mechanisms and processes were not ordained by EU governments; they were based on the habits and customs of EPC diplomats themselves.”49 With the Copenhagen Report, the Political Committee was allowed to meet as much as its work required and established the role of the Working Groups in the elaboration of the EPC50. This enabled the EU foreign ministries to refer to the “reflex of coordination” which means that they had been accustomed to automatic consult with its colleagues on important foreign policy matters.
This information-sharing structure left by the Copenhagen Report can be translated as five major institutional developments to the EU foreign policy. First it was a confidence-building measure in the sense it reduced the possibilities that the EU countries would be surprised with others positions on foreign policy, thus reducing the possibility of conflict inside the community. Second, it helped to define EU foreign policy as a policy domain as it better defined to which problems the EPC were to address. Third, it helped to produce common points of view and analyses. Fourth, it had an evaluative aspect, that means there were discussed not only the EPC performance regarding a specific policy but also the overall development and effectiveness of it as an institution. Fifth it helped to enhance the demands for more norms and rules of behaviour to address common problems and the daily management of the EPC. Therefore we can define the main outcomes of the EPC under Copenhagen Report as: 1. creation of institutionalized regional political dialogues, as seen in the Euro-Arab Dialogue51, and 2. the first experiments with conflict prevention and civilian crisis management52 outside the community, with the EU responses to the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973, the Portuguese Revolution of April 1974, the Cyprus Coup of July 1974, and the execution of Basque terrorists in Spain in 197553.
After the development of the transgovernmental network established by the Copenhagen Report and further disappointments with the response of the EPC to the crisis in Iran and Afghanistan, the EU countries agreed to improve the EPC albeit the caution and efforts not to make it more supranational. Thus, under the British EU presidency the London Report was negotiated. The new Report focused especially on three areas of improvement of the EPC: a better consultation mechanism in case of crises; the establishment of an administrative secretariat to the EPC; and the necessity for stronger political commitment of the EU member-states to the EPC54. Therefore, the London Report aimed to produce a major change in the EPC, to transform it from a coordination mechanism to a tool for supporting the EU interests in its international relations55. Here we can see the EU policy-makers recognizing that the EPC worked well enough as a preventive diplomacy mechanism56 (especially in the cases of East-West relations, Middle East and Southern Europe mentioned above) and now they realized they need to deepen the conflict prevention tools. Thus with the London Report they indicated their will to start building the basis for an external crisis management approach57, demonstrating the EU potential for projecting stability beyond its boarders.
Nevertheless, it is important to highlight the evolution of procedural and substantive norms on the EPC and its relation with the EC to better understand EPC´s institutional development. Those norms developed through a constant debate, interaction among the negotiators and trial-and-error learning as reflected in the Luxemburg, Copenhagen and London Reports. The expansion of those procedural and substantive norms helped to institutionalize the presence of EC organizations in the EU foreign policy domain58.
The Single European Act: institutionalized cooperation
The provisions of the London Report were further discussed in the 1983 Stuttgart Declaration which highlighted the importance of greater coherence and close coordination between the EPC and EC structures59. But the EPC was only codified in the Single European Act (SEA) of 1986, however still treated as a separate to the EC, reflecting the concerns of the member-states with its de jure intergovernmental character60. The SEA recognized that while the EC was based on its own treaties, the EPC was based on “…reports of Luxembourg (1970), Copenhagen (1973), London (1981), the Solemn Declaration on European Union (1983) … [Stuttgart Declaration] … and the practices gradually established among the member states [called the coutumier]61”. The SEA also highlighted that: “… [member-States] are ready to co-ordinate their positions more closely on the political and economical aspects of security…”62, thus paving the way for a European crisis management mechanism.
The SEA included the most complex provisions since the EPC was created, mainly involving three aspects of the system: intergovernmental, transgovernmental and rule-governed. First it slightly enhanced the intergovernmental character of the EPC basically by establishing the role of the European Council63 in one hand but allowing the EPC meetings to be held together with the General Affairs Council of the EC thus challenging the procedural distinction between EPC and the EC affairs. The transgovernmental aspect of the EPC was also slightly improved in the SEA due to the move of the Political Committee to Brussels and increasing the frequency of the EPC working groups meetings in Brussels. Those actions enhanced the consultation and brought the EPC closer to the EC. Third, the SEA formally codified many EPC customs as “general obligations” or legal rules, and demanded the EC and EPC external policies to be consistent. Concluding, the SEA did not made the EPC more “supranational” neither less “intergovernmental” but its main achievement was to codify existing practices and to formally start to bridge the gap between the community and the EPC64.
Treaty of Maastricht: CFSP
The fact that the international system was rapidly changing in the end of the 1980´s prompted major challenges and reforms to many institutions including NATO, WEU, CSCE and the EU. However it was not only due to external pressures that the institutional reform of the European foreign policy occurred, rather those changes reflected endogenous, path-dependent processes. The institutionalization of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) with the 1993 Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union – TEU) represented a natural, logical progression by codifying what was already achieved with the EPC and establishing new goals and procedures into the system65.
Nevertheless we can define four major areas of improvement of the European foreign policy as established by the Treaty on European Union. First it demanded a higher level of coherence and rationalization of the policy-making process. Second, it established the CFSP as legally binding on EU member-states. Third, it established many areas in which decision-making would take form of qualified majority voting (QMV) instead of unanimity. Fourth, it provided the EC organizational actors with a broader degree of autonomy to act in European foreign policy66.
The TEU clearly signalled the vision (mainly stated by France and Germany) that the EPC needed to be transformed from a reactive to a proactive cooperative mechanism. It was the recognition that the EPC was unable to deal with the crises that affect Europe and this deficiency was felt mainly during the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War and the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Therefore issues of security and defence were brought into the negotiation table of the new Treaty while concerns over the possibility of serious security and defence problems in the post-Cold War era could undermine the ability of the Europeans even to prevent conflict inside Europe. Moreover, Europeans recognized that they would have more foreign interests with the development of the Single European Market and the possibility of a European Monetary Union, but they lacked institutional resources to protect those interests. Also the demand of aiding the Central and Eastern European Countries to support democracy and development, posed a challenge to the European Union.
The CFSP under the TEU represented a mix of intergovernmental and supranational elements with enhancements and extensions of institutional mechanisms which were created and developed during the EPC years. The major elements of change can be identified as: rationalization of the policy process, establishment of binding legal obligations, change in decision-making rules, and bigger autonomy of EC organizations.
In the TEU the Europeans agreed to include the need for more cooperation in defence matters in the provisions of the CFSP, even tough they did not agreed to merge the Western European Union (WEU) with the EU67. It clarified the decision-making process for the use of common positions and joint actions alongside with the EPC normal consultations, declarations, and demarches, this is a change from a consultative approach of the EPC to a mechanism designed to produce regular foreign policy outputs (see the actual CFSP instruments on the Annex I). The EU presidency represented the Union under the CFSP (as one of the two intergovernmental pillars of the Union – CFSP and Justice and Home Affairs), implemented its policies and was responsible to express the EU positions in international organizations and conferences. The EU presidency could be assisted by the Troika (former, current and following EU presidencies), the Commission and the WEU (in any decisions and actions of the Union with defence implications).
In the second element we can observe that for the first time the European political cooperation was institutionalized in terms of a Treaty and the CFSP common positions had the form of a formal legal act of the Council of Ministers, therefore they were legally binding on EU states (they are published in the Official Journal of EC Legislation). Moreover, the term Common Foreign and Security Policy denoted the EU`s will to transform itself in a international organization and a global actor and reflect an obligation rather than the coordination of individual national foreign policy goals during the EPC.
In the third element we observe that a major advance in regarding decision-making rules was that the TEU established that any initial decision concerning actions under the CFSP must be unanimous but once passed the actions could be subject to QMV (such as means, duration, financing, etc.). Together with the inclusion of defence issues the QMV was a major advance of the CFSP compared with the EPC, even tough there are many rule restrictions to the use of QMV.
Finally in the fourth element, the TEU saw the increase of autonomy on the part of EC organizations. This was either due to Treaty provisions or to complex linkages of EC actors and CFSP policy process. The creation of a “Unified External Services” and the new DG-IA (Directorate General – External Political Relations) represented those linkages between the EC and CFSP, where we can see that for the Commission, the economic and political functions of external relations were inseparably linked.
Even tough the taboo over defence issues was brought down under Maastricht, different visions on what would be an independent European defence structure, the future of NATO and the WEU, and the relationship between the EU, WEU and NATO undermined the efforts of a common European defence68. Therefore, the CFSP under Maastricht, like its predecessor, the EPC, was basically devoted to long-term conflict resolution with diplomatic and economic tools and not a quick crisis management mechanism using military means, as the crisis in the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and the subsequent conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia showed69. Those crises influenced the reform of the CFSP under the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 which emphasised the operational capacities, coherent foreign policy representation, and competences on planning and analysis.
Considering that during the EPC years security and defence issues were a taboo, we can see that during the European Councils in 1992 (Lisbon and Edinburgh) and 1993 (Brussels) the EU defined specific issues in the security area that could be subject of joint actions (those included: non-proliferation, territorial and political integrity of the EU, stability of neighbouring nations, etc.). Nevertheless, until the beginning of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in 1996 a few minor security-related issues were addressed by the CFSP through joint-actions. Even during the early 1996 crisis between Greece and Turkey over the island of Imia/Karadak the CFSP was unable to avoid conflict escalation, and depended on the United States to take action. This problem was in part due to the major role played by the EU presidency over the CFSP agenda. The Italian presidency did not call for a more assertive approach of the EU and the leadership vacuum was not filled70. Those problems of crisis management were expected to be addressed during the next IGC in Amsterdam.
Until here we can remark that substantive coherence was enhanced in the CFSP compared to the EPC, that means, the use of different EU external policy mechanisms or competencies (such as development aid, political dialogue, market accession, etc.) toward a common external goal. Meanwhile, procedural coherence was still a problem because it involved the rationalization of institutional tools for achieving those goals (decision-making, policy implementation, representation, etc.). The Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice tried to address those institutional flaws of the EU external policy71.
Treaty of Amsterdam: High-Representative for the CFSP
The Amsterdam Treaty put forward general provisions concerning coherence and common interests by expanding the definition of fundamental objectives of the CFSP and providing common strategies that enabled the mobilization of resources under the three-pillars (EC, CFSP and JHA) toward a single foreign policy goal. It also addressed to three other concerns of EU foreign policy: decision-making, implementation and financing.
The most important change to be noticed was the creation of the function of High-Representative for the CFSP (which would be also the Secretary-General of the Council) which shall assist the EU presidency and head the “CFSP Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit” in the Council Secretariat. This Unit is responsible for monitoring, provide assessments, early warning and policy options for the Council and it was expected it would provide a link for greater cooperation among the Commission and the EU member-states. The Higher-Representative for the CFSP, however is not able to initiate policies and have fewer resources as the Commission72.
What was more important for the development of the European crisis management mechanism, the Amsterdam Treaty established a legal basis to provide military capability to the CFSP, incorporating the WEU “Petersberg Tasks” which included: “humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking”73. The discussion over the merging of the WEU into the EU divided the member-states and was only concluded in 1998 when the UK agreed to pursue crisis management tasks under the EU at the St. Malo Declaration74. Still, at Amsterdam, it was affirmed that NATO was the essential forum for European defence.
Building up the capabilities: Cologne, Helsinki and Nice
The discussions to develop stronger European crisis management capabilities gained weight after the agreement at St. Malo and the European failure to formulate a coherent response to the Kosovo crisis in 1999. The agreement to develop an autonomous military capacity of the EU was established on the condition it would not duplicate or challenge the role of NATO as Europe main defence organization. Nevertheless the argument that an independent European collective defence was to be developed was false because the main focus of the Europeans was on external crisis response and not defence in its traditional sense75.
The most important steps toward the development of European crisis management capabilities were taken in the European Councils of Cologne and Helsinki in 1999. In the European Council of Cologne was agreed that the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) would need enough military capabilities and decision-making structures to work properly. As previously agreed at St. Malo, it was accepted that the WEU crisis management functions would merge with the EU76. Besides, the WEU Satellite Centre and the Institute for Security Studies were incorporated to the institutional framework of the CFSP. The talks with NATO to establish protocols for the use of its assets to accomplish with the ambitious “Petersberg Tasks” started in 1999 and agreed in 2002 at the Copenhagen European Council with the so-called Berlin-Plus arrangements77.
The Finnish presidency put forward the decisions regarding the military and non-military aspects of crisis management established in Cologne. During the Helsinki European Council it was established the European Headline Goals which prompted the Member-states to enhance its military capabilities and its interoperability. It proposed the creation of a EU crisis management force, known as the European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF) which would undertake military Petersberg Tasks. This force was to be composed of 60.000 troops to be deployable within 60 days for a minimum period of one year. The ESDP was finally declared operational at the Laeken Summit in 200178.
Even thought it was not on the discussion agenda for the 2000 Nice Treaty, additional reforms of the CFSP were finalized at this Treaty. Finally, after the St. Malo Declaration it was possible to merge the WEU within the EU. It also added three new institutional organs to deal with the issues related to the ESDP: the Political and Security Committee, the European Union Military Committee, and the European Union Military Staff. Among those new organs the most important is the Political and Security Committee (also known as the French acronym, COPS). The COPS is composed by permanent representatives of the member-States with ambassador ranks that meets twice or three times a week in Brussels to discuss the formulation of policies, draft opinions for the Council and oversee the implementation of agreed policies.79 According to recent research, the COPS is fundamental as a institutional socialization process within the ESDP80. The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) is composed by the Chiefs of the Defence Staff of the member-states. It is responsible to make military recommendations to the COPS. The EUMC is the highest EU military body and its chairman participates in the COPS, Council and NATO Military Committee meetings. It is the designated “forum for consultation and cooperation between member-states in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management”81. The European Union Military Staff (EUMS) is composed of 150 senior officers from the member-states and is responsible to provide expertise through situation assessment, early warning and strategic planning.
The Treaty of Nice also endorsed the development of the civilian crisis management mechanisms with the creation of the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM). It was established to report the COREPER and assist the COPS. It should produce expertise on civilian crisis management operations and to enhance the inter-pillar coherence of the EU capabilities on civilian crisis management. Those progressed in four areas: police, rule of law, civilian administration and civilian protection operations82.
The European Security Strategy (ESS): developing a strategic culture
We saw that the crisis management capabilities and institutions were developing but still it lacked a clear strategy until the High Representative for CFSP presented the European Security Strategy (ESS) at the Thessaloniki European Council in June 200383. The ESS established the normative strategic thinking behind the ESDP. The document had in mind to forge a “European strategic culture” in the eve of disputes among EU member-states over the Iraq War84. The ESS would have not been possible without the initiative of ambassadors at the COPS that decided to draft a common strategic document and managed to persuade their own governments of the importance to develop such a common EU strategy85.
The document shows that the Europeans have drawn lessons from perceived failures in cooperation and policy-making. Moreover some authors understood it as a response to the US American National Security Strategy of September 200286. Mainly, the firm commitment of the ESS to multilateral solutions to deal with the threats, contrasted it with the unilateral inclination of the US American National Security Strategy.
The ESS identified the main threats to the EU security and outlined responses to deal with those threats. The threats identified in the ESS are: international terrorism, failed states, regional conflicts, organised crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The document reinforced the EU commitment to multilateralism, the EU responsibility to build security in its neighbours and work with partners in order to tackle those threats. Moreover, the ESS recognizes that the EU was to be more active, capable and coherent. There is also a very strong mention on preventive engagement of the EU as opposed to the pre-emptive logic of its US American counterpart. In the first draft it was suggested that the ESS instead of emphasise preventive engagement should mention pre-emptive engagement what would please the American partners but there was a strong objection to use this nomenclature87.
The ESS also reflects many concepts which inform the normative approach of ESDP88. The most relevant among those concepts are: comprehensive security, global public goods and human security. The first key concept relates the ESDP to a positive dimension of security, that means, the concept of security (one’s security depends on the security of the others) is right the opposite as defence (one’s security depends on the weakness or insecurity of the other). First drafted at the Helsinki Final Act, the EU concept of security addresses basic human rights, fundamental freedoms, economic and environmental cooperation, peace and stability. The second key concept, global public goods reflect concerns with stability, physical security, rule of law, economic development, general well-being, health, education and environmentalism. Those issues are interdependent and cannot be addressed separately. The third concept, human security, according to the Human Security Report, is defined as “freedom for individuals from basic insecurities caused by gross human rights violations”.
Nevertheless, the ESS recognizes that the first line of defence of the EU is most of the times abroad; therefore it stresses the role of conflict prevention and crisis management of the Union. Thus it calls for a more close relationship between the conflict prevention capabilities of the EU and the crisis management tools of the CFSP/ESDP.
For most of its critics however there are many flaws in the ESS, mainly the lack of indication of ESDP’s geographical scope and disputes on the appropriate use of force. Moreover there is still the uneasy partnership with NATO, and that up to date the ESDP missions89 have been relatively small and there are doubts on the will of member-states to act in case of crisis response90. However, the ESS contributes to the emergence of an EU strategic culture, bringing out commonalities in a continent with strong historical scars of national divisions. Here if we recognize the realist premise that the international system is structured by nation-states with self-serving and egoistic interests it would be difficult (not to say impossible) to imagine the emergence of a European strategic culture. Only if we recognize that there are many things changing and been constructed in Europe, based on the overcoming of past rivalries and divisions, on the thought of intercultural interaction shaping new social, national and cultural identities, the reshaping of the international system around a small number of poles (like the literature of the new regionalism suggests) and that the challenges of the future are interdependent (as poverty, inequality, exclusion, etc.) then is possible to analyse the contemporary European move on security and defence with hope91. This does not exclude the reality of difficulty exposed in this article, and the necessity to involve the European citizens in this project.