The ESDP: Between Estrangement
and a New Partnership in Transatlantic
Ever since Europeans committed themselves to endowing the Union with a capacity for autonomous action in the area of crisis management at the European Council summit in December 1999, EU member states have embarked on a rigorous quest towards this objective. Much has changed in the European security sphere since this fateful decision was made, not least the EU\u2019s relationship with NATO. Whilst the prospect of improved European military capabilities should please US policymakers, who have long been calling on Europeans to shoulder more of the burden within the transatlantic alliance, many remain deeply suspicious of the long-term implications of strengthening Europe\u2019s military capacity. They fear that NATO will eventually be undermined and the US monopoly on decision making within the Euro-Atlantic security arena eroded. Much depends on the degree of autonomy that Europeans really seek. Yet, Europeans occupy a no less ambiguous position with regard to the ESDP. In characteristic European fashion, a \u2018constructive ambiguity\u2019 has been built into its construction in order to accommodate continued divergences between member states about the desired relationship between the EU and NATO. Some EU member states are eager to see the EU develop the capabilities necessary to act, at least some of the time, independently of NATO; others see no reason to duplicate NATO assets and risk upsetting transatlantic relations.
This article examines how changes in the international political and economic environment have altered the politics of European security during the 1990s. It argues that shifts in European states\u2019 security practices and corresponding redeployment of military apparatuses in the post-Cold War era have combined with defence industrial issues in at least two major EU member states, namely France and Germany, to produce a strong interpretation of what is meant by \u2018capacity for autonomous action\u2019. Given that Britain and the US have a fairly weak interpretation of what this means, the ESDP can be expected to remain a sensitive issue amongst the \u2018big three\u2019, as well as point of contention in European\u2013American security relations.
During the wars in the former-Yugoslavia, European politicians and of\ufb01cials were painfully reminded of their dependence on American military assets provided via NATO, as well as the need to develop the tools with which to respond effectively to crises. The wars effectively acted as a catalyst for the development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). At the 1992 Maastricht European Council meeting, it was decided the CFSP would replace the European Political Cooperation (EPC) as the second pillar of the European Union.1The 1992 Treaty on European Union (TEU), signed at Maastricht, was, thus, the \ufb01rst treaty to contain provisions anchoring the Union\u2019s responsibilities in the \ufb01eld of security. Since the EU lacked military capabilities of its own, the Treaty envisioned that the EU would request the Western European Union (WEU)\u2014Europe\u2019s defence arm at the time\u2014to plan and implement military measures on its behalf (The German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004). The Maastricht Treaty represented a \ufb01rst step on the road toward constructing a European caucus within the Euro-Atlantic security sphere. Defence, however, was postponed, owing to divergences between major members of the EU with regards to any transfer of competence in military security matters to the EU (Haine, 2004: 37 \u2013 38).
The European desire for greater autonomy was initially accommodated within a NATO framework. At the 1994 NATO summit in Brussels, member states approved the development of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI)\u2014an instrument aimed at facilitating European efforts to develop \u2018separable but not separate\u2019 capabilities through the WEU (Davis, 2003: 213). WEU-led crisis management operations were to be enabled by the US-inspired concept of Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF). The idea behind the CJTFs was to provide a framework within which NATO could continue to provide the command and organisational means necessary for multi-national, wide-ranging missions that would not always include the entire NATO membership. They, thus, implicitly provided the US with a way of maintaining control over decision making within the Euro- Atlantic security arena and enshrined the EU\u2019s dependence on NATO/US capabilities, without guaranteeing that those capabilities would be available in the event of a crisis situation (Howorth, 2002). The ESDI, therefore, provided a means of strengthening a \u2018European pillar of defence\u2019within the framework of NATO.
Yet, improving European capabilities within a NATO framework failed to provide suf\ufb01cient incentive and, as far as some in Europe were concerned, did not go far enough towards allowing greater European autonomy. Dif\ufb01culties of coordination within NATO and the degree of control exerted by the US during the intervention in Kosovo, galvanised European governments into taking further steps toward developing greater autonomy in terms of political decision making and military capacity\u2014this time,within the framework
1 December, France and Germany issued a joint statement, in which President Chirac and Chancellor Schro\u00a8der announced that they were in the process of de\ufb01ning CFSP and a common defence policy, and that they continued to be committed to integrating the WEU into the EU. They also emphasised the importance of equipping the EU with its own military and operational capacities. These capacities were to be created either from within the WEU framework, from multinational forces, such as the Eurocorps,2or via capabilities made available by NATO, as agreed at the North Atlantic Council in Berlin in June 1996. The Franco-German meeting was followed by a Franco-British meeting on
3 \u20134 December. The outcome of this meeting, the much heralded St. Ma\u02c6lo Declaration, af\ufb01rmed that the EU required \u2018the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by a credible military force, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises\u2019 so that the EU could \u2018take decisions and approve military action where the Alliance as a whole is not engaged\u2019 (cited in Bono, 2003: 28).
As such, it represented a shift in London\u2019s approach to Europe, as well as a French concession to Atlantic legitimacy (Haine, 2004: 43). It was clearly aimed at the European objective of gaining greater political and military autonomy within a restructured Atlantic Alliance (Howorth, 2002: 2). Doing so by engaging the EU in common external action in the area of crisis management logically led to the construction of a ESDP, as a distinctive part of the CFSP. The ESDP, however, lacked a treaty basis, since the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam still provided for the WEU to be called upon to plan and implement military action on the EU\u2019s behalf. At the European Council summit in Cologne in June 1999, member states made it known that they were determined to see the Union play a greater role on the international stage and that they intended to give the EU the \u2018necessary means and capabilities to assume its responsibilities regarding a common European policy on security and defence\u2019 (European Council, 1999).
To achieve this objective, it was decided at European Council summit in Helsinki in December 1999 that permanent political and military bodies would be established within the Council structures: a Political Security Committee (PSC)\u2014the EU\u2019s equivalent of NATO\u2019s North Atlantic Council (NAC)3\u2014the EU Military Committee (EUMC)\u2014an EU military authority\u2014and the European Union Military Staff (EUMS)\u2014a military staff tasked with implementing the decisions of the EUMC, performing early warning, situation assessments and strategic planning for crisis management, including identi\ufb01cation of relevant forces. These institutions were established under the 2000 Nice Treaty. The Treaty also transferred a number of institutions that were previously part of the WEUacquis to the EU, namely the WEU\u2019s Satellite Centre in Torrejon, Spain, and its Institute of Security Studies. These institutions were added to two other bodies that were established within the Council under the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty: the post of Secretary-General of the Council, currently held by Javier Solana, who also acts as high representative for the CFSP, and a Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit (PPEWU) (Balis, 2003: 28).
However, the core of the St. Ma\u02c6lo Declaration had addressed the development of capabilities. In accordance with this, member states set themselves a so-called Headline Goal for capabilities development at the Helsinki summit. The aim was to put at the Union\u2019s disposal a military force, speci\ufb01ed as the creation of a rapid reaction force of 60,000 troops, deployable within 60 days, with additional air and naval capabilities as needed, and sustainable in the \ufb01eld for up to one year (Davis, 2003: 215). The missions assigned to this Rapid Reaction Force were those de\ufb01ned at Petersberg by the WEU in 1992 and inscribed in the TEU\u2014the so-called Petersberg tasks\u2014namely \u2018humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking\u2019 (cited in Haine, 2004: 44). In order to be able to carry out these operations, particular attention was given to the means necessary to ful\ufb01l these tasks, such as deployability, sustainability, interoperability, mobility, survivability and command and control. At Laeken in December 2002, the ESDP was declared operational, though the capabilities development process had not come to an end (Balis, 2003: 27).
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