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Lessons from Bosnia. Innovating in EU crisis management missions?

Is another way to do PeSDC missions possible? (fountain in Sarajevo © NGV)

(BRUSSELS2, reflection) The end of the police mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (MPUE/EUPM) brings its share of reflections on the mechanics of planning and conducting civilian crisis missions and more generally on the direction of European policy defense. With an essential question: is the existing system adapted to the new situation both at the strategic level and the institutional context (Lisbon Treaty)?

We know that reflection is underway on this point within the diplomatic service, led by General Janvier (former deputy head of the observer operation in Georgia), aimed in particular at allowing more flexible adoption and adaptation. planning instruments (Conops, OpPlan, etc.). I do not want to intervene in this debate here. Especially since the current system allows certain “ad hoc” adaptations as long as there is a certain political will. The mission triggering process in Georgia demonstrated this yesterday (2008) – with a deadline shortened to 6 weeks “all inclusive” (:-). The planning process of the Eucap Niger mission shows this today, with the establishment of a ConopsPlus (read: Planning innovation: the ConopsPlus) ...

What interests me here is more the orientation or rather the range of instruments available to defense Europe, with one idea: what serves today as “exit strategy” (exit strategy) for the MPUE/EUPM mission in Bosnia – transferring certain functions from the European defense mission to a reinforced team with the special representative – could it not serve as a “entry strategy” (entry strategy)?

The new architecture of European foreign policy allows for innovation

Between the deployment of a full PeSDC mission and the sending of a few experts by the European Commission or the European diplomatic service, seconded from the services (case of the EEAS) or contracted for certain needs (case of the European Commission), it there is indeed today for an intermediate path. The instruments available to the High Representative today are not quite the same as five or ten years ago. Since from the field – from delegations – to operational planning – CMPD and CPCC – and to political experts, depend on the same hierarchy. The new architecture of European foreign policy therefore allows much more than yesterday. And it is allowed to innovate.

A team in the form of a PeSDC “mini-mission”

We could thus have a team, organized and structured like a mini-PeSDC mission, which would support/complement a delegation from the European Union. This “team” (let’s be modern :-)) could be pre-constituted according to certain subjects – DDR, police, customs, etc. – or composed ad hoc. In all cases, it should be rapidly deployable in support of an EU embassy (delegation) or a special representative, to which it would be attached and reported hierarchically. The “team” would be located within the delegation or nearby, or on the contrary in a sort of provisional delegation. Its deployment duration could be short (3 months) or longer (1, 2, 3 years). It could evolve quickly by adding another, more specialized team, thus making it possible to complete or reorient its action.

Mix the strength of a PESDC mission to the expertise of the delegation

This structure could serve as a preparation team for a larger PeSDC mission or for a more structural reinforcement of the delegation. I will be told that this is already done with the Crisis Response Team. I think it's not enough. We stay halfway. This is not enough to form a “team” capable of acting autonomously. You need a concept, a structure, preparation and above all a training effect, a demonstration on the ground.

In the idea, it is a question of adding the strength of a PeSDC mission – a legitimate, recognized leader who has a certain authority over his “troops”, a training capacity, and also a certain legitimacy vis-à-vis - vis-à-vis the outside, autonomy of action, a direct relationship to the command of operations in Brussels, capable of acting in a troubled security context... - expert skills in security matters (police, army, security civil…) which are not necessarily specific to the staff of a delegation, more focused on political, economic or development affairs.

All accompanied by community funding – like civilian missions. But in a less expensive way. This would thus avoid certain debates which slow down the sending of a European defense mission. In fact, we are not very far from the concept of “battlegroup” but civilized and avoiding the pitfalls and speed bumps that hamper this concept… And this would allow a middle ground between “doing nothing” or wanting to “do everything”.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).