Will CSDP Enjoy 'Collateral Gains' from France's Invocation of the EU's 'Mutual Defence Clause'?

14-12-2015

Following the terrorist attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris, the 'mutual defence/assistance clause' of the Treaty of Lisbon (article 42.7 TEU) was invoked for the first time by an EU Member State. This tool is a 'reactive', intergovernmental instrument. Devoid of specific implementation arrangements, the text foresees no explicit role for EU institutions. As a result, any Member State invoking the clause maintains a wide margin of manoeuvre for pursuing bilateral discussions with partners, who are at once bound to assist and free to decide the type and scope of their assistance. Article 42.7 was not the only clause France could have invoked to ask for assistance, but it was the least constraining. At a time when the country's financial and military capabilities are increasingly stretched, the simpler clause was a logical choice Beyond the immediate consequences – Member States' unanimous political support and bilateral discussions on assistance – the act is likely to affect the wider debate about the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The Union's strategic thinking (including on the future 'EU global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy') and developments may be influenced by the inauguration, with a renewed focus on preparedness, pooling and sharing of capabilities, and the EU's 'comprehensive approach' to crises. The European Parliament has long supported mutual assistance in cases of crises. With its oversight role (in particular based on Article 36 TEU) and role in coordinating with national parliaments, the Parliament could stimulate and take part in debates on the EU's role in multidimensional and transnational crises. Such debates can contribute to an evaluation of Article 42.7 and potentially improve the EU’s security 'toolbox'.

Following the terrorist attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris, the 'mutual defence/assistance clause' of the Treaty of Lisbon (article 42.7 TEU) was invoked for the first time by an EU Member State. This tool is a 'reactive', intergovernmental instrument. Devoid of specific implementation arrangements, the text foresees no explicit role for EU institutions. As a result, any Member State invoking the clause maintains a wide margin of manoeuvre for pursuing bilateral discussions with partners, who are at once bound to assist and free to decide the type and scope of their assistance. Article 42.7 was not the only clause France could have invoked to ask for assistance, but it was the least constraining. At a time when the country's financial and military capabilities are increasingly stretched, the simpler clause was a logical choice Beyond the immediate consequences – Member States' unanimous political support and bilateral discussions on assistance – the act is likely to affect the wider debate about the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The Union's strategic thinking (including on the future 'EU global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy') and developments may be influenced by the inauguration, with a renewed focus on preparedness, pooling and sharing of capabilities, and the EU's 'comprehensive approach' to crises. The European Parliament has long supported mutual assistance in cases of crises. With its oversight role (in particular based on Article 36 TEU) and role in coordinating with national parliaments, the Parliament could stimulate and take part in debates on the EU's role in multidimensional and transnational crises. Such debates can contribute to an evaluation of Article 42.7 and potentially improve the EU’s security 'toolbox'.