The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

1. What is the CSDP?

As stated in the Treaty of Lisbon, the Common Security and Defence Policy is an integral part of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy. By providing the latter with an operational capability based on civilian and military resources, it makes it possible to maintain peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security. To this end, Member States may, among other things, decide unanimously to launch civilian missions or military operations outside the Union.

2. The development of the CSDP

While the origins of the European security and defence architecture go back to the immediate post-war period, the joint declaration between France and the United Kingdom at the Saint-Malo Summit in 1998 was for many the catalyst for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). At this occasion, the leaders of France and the United Kingdom agreed that if the European Union wanted to have a stronger presence on the international stage, it needed to have an "autonomous decision-making and action" and must be able to rely on "credible military forces". Against the backdrop of the crisis in Kosovo, the CSDP was officially created the following year at the Cologne Summit. At this summit, the European Council set itself the objective of rapidly adopting the decisions necessary for the Union to assume its responsibilities in the context of the so-called "Petersberg tasks", with reference to the name of the town  between Cologne and Bonn where the European Summit was held. The tasks covered were the following: humanitarian and rescue tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking. This declared European determination was then translated at the Helsinki summit (1999) and Santa Maria da Feira summit (2000) by setting out a level of ambition and the necessary capabilities (the "Headline Goals") in the military and civilian fields. In 2003, the year in which the European Security Strategy was unveiled, a new milestone was reached with the "Berlin Plus" agreements, aimed at enabling the EU to use NATO's military crisis management capabilities.

The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 was a decisive turning point for the ESDP, which was renamed the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) to reflect a broader field of action. In addition to the Petersberg tasks, there were now also new actions in the field of disarmament, military advice and assistance, conflict prevention and post-conflict stabilisation operations.

The presentation of the Global Strategy for the foreign and security policy of the European Union in June 2016 (abbreviated to EU Global Strategy, EUGS) gave a new impulse to the CSDP. In the area of defence, the Global Strategy is based on the following three pillars:

In the civilian field, in November 2018, the Council together with the Member States  pledged to fulfil around 20 commitments in a compact to make the civilian CSDP more capable, responsive and joined up.

For more information on the Global Strategy see the following link.

3. Roles and responsibilities

While the Common Security and Defence Policy is essentially intergovernmental in nature, it is under the responsibility of the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. To this end, the latter, who is also Vice-President of the Commission, relies on the European External Action Service (EEAS), established by the Treaty of Lisbon and still under the political control and strategic direction of the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

4. Missions and operations of the CSDP

Since the first military operations - Concordia (in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo - launched in 2003, the CSDP has deployed around 35 civilian and military missions and operations, on land and sea, in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Via the following link you can find a detailed overview of the various missions and operations currently in progress.