Development of Capabilities for Common Security and Defence Policy

In “Europe as a stronger global actor”

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In December 2013, the European Council (EUCO) identified priority actions built around three key elements: increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of common security and defence policy (CSDP); the development of capabilities; and strengthening Europe's defence industry.

The European Parliament (EP) continuously pushed for a strong CSDP and defence cooperation among Member States. In 3 resolutions adopted in May 2015, the EP expressed regret at the slow progress in enhancing the EU's operational, industrial and capability resources to manage crises and ensure its strategic autonomy. It urged Member States to use CSDP tools and resources more effectively in order to better cope with new security challenges. The 16 March 2017 EP resolution welcomed progress and called on further development of European civilian and military capabilities.

In February 2017, the HRVP presented a Concept Note on the planning and capabilities for CSDP missions which the Council approved on 6 March 2017. It also decided to create a Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) to command non-executive military missions and welcomed the work on the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD). The latter is a tool for ensuring the coherence of defence spending plans. In May 2017, the Council endorsed the MPCC within the EU Military Staff (EUMS) which will coordinate with the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) through the Joint Support Coordination Cell (JSCC). In June 2017, the European Tactical Airlift Centre was officially opened further developing capabilities for CSDP. The MPCC was emboldened in the 19 November 2018 Council conclusions to conduct one executive military CSDP operation limited to an EU Battlegroup size.

In June and October 2017, the EUCO welcomed progress on further developing capabilities for CSDP. EU leaders also agreed on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious PESCO. In November 2017, the Council welcomed the notification by 23 Member States wishing to participate in PESCO, the progress on the European Defence Fund (EDF) and the launch of the trial run of the CARD. On 11 December 2017, the Council adopted the decision to establish PESCO with 25 participating states and set out common commitments, governance and administrative arrangements. On 6 March 2018, the Council – meeting for the first time in 'PESCO' format – formally adopted the list of 17 projects to be developed, including a recommendation for a roadmap for implementing PESCO. On 28 March 2018, the Commission's Action Plan on military mobility was presented. It identifies operational measures to tackle different barriers that hamper military mobility. The 19 November 2018 conclusions welcome progress on PESCO and include 17 more projects to the list, making it a total of 34 projects.

EUCO's 28 June 2018 conclusions call for fulfilling PESCO commitments consistently with CARD and CDP. The 25 June 2018 FAC conclusions adopted a common set of governance rules for PESCO projects, welcome the political agreement on the EDIDP and reiterate the need to cooperate with NATO, especially on military mobility. In its 28 May 2018 conclusions on strengthening civilian CSDP, the Council underlined the importance of the Feira priorities for civilian CSDP and for the EU’s integrated approach. Its conclusions of 19 November 2018 announce the launch of Civilian CSDP Compact, aiming to reform civilian CSDP by making it more responsive, effective and capable to respond to the international security environment. In December 2018, the EUCO endorsed the Compact and welcomed progress on PESCO, EDIDP and Military Mobility.

Three December 2018 EP resolutions, on the implementation of the CFSP and CSDP and on Military Mobility, welcomed progress on developing European defence capabilities. On 13 February 2019, Parliament restated its support for PESCO, CARD and EDF and on 28 March it expressed support for the European Peace Facility as a means to yield efficiency gains to operational funding of external action. In the last plenary session of the 8th legislature, on 18 April 2019, Parliament adopted the partial agreement on the EDF, whose purpose is to make the EU's defence industry more competitive, efficient and innovative by leveraging collaborative defence research and technology activities.

The FAC (Defence) of 14 May 2019 assessed the first year of PESCO implementation following the Annual Report presented by the HR/VP and noted progress in increasing defence budgets and investments and in Member States' regular usage of EU tools such as the CDP, CARD and EDIDP. On the same date, 22 EU members signed a new programme with the EDA to facilitate cross-border and air-surface permissions in support of military mobility.

The FAC conclusions of 17 June 2019 call for a coherent and output-oriented implementation of the various EU defence initiatives as well as increasing synergies between them in order to be able to increase the capacity and capabilities for achieving an innovative and competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base. They also call for further coherence in the timelines of the different processes and to deepen the link between the capability and the operational aspects.

In her designation of Commissioners and their portfolios on 10 September 2019, the new Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has revelead her intention to create a new Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space which will manage the space and satellite navigation programs as well as defence industrial policy and defence procurement.


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Author: Tania Latici, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/11/2019.