Blog AnalysisEU Defense (Doctrine)

CSDP, Defense Europe and European defence… how to find your way around

(BRUSSELS2) There is often confusion between European defence, European defense and the (European) common security and defense policy (CSDP).

Saluting the battalions at Koulikouro, the Malian army training camp. (EUTM Mali)
Saluting the battalions at Koulikoro, the Malian army training camp (Credit: EUTM Mali)


What are we talking about ?

La european defense generally corresponds to the way in which countries organize themselves to ensure their defense, in the territorial sense of the term, either within an organization (NATO, European Union), or through multilateral consultation.

Through " Europe of defense ", we generally mean the organization of a common defense at the level of the European Union. This term has been widely used. And everyone puts their hopes and fantasies into it. Some go so far as to evoke a European army (which is, for the moment, a fad at best). Others seeing only one motto political, even theoretical.

La Common (European) Security and Defense Policy (PeSDC) is a precise notion. Today, as defined by the Treaties, the CSDP is not a European defense policy, in the territorial sense of the term. It is also only intended to be exercised outside the European Union and not within the territory of the EU. It is based, above all, on a crisis management policy, with the establishment of (civilian) missions or (military) operations aimed at maintaining stability and peace in different countries around the world, missions including the philosophy is similar to those implemented at the international level by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

These missions are different from traditional peacekeeping missions, even if they can sometimes overlap. They cover the strengthening of the rule of law, observation, assistance to the security forces. They take place in neighboring countries whose stability is vital for the countries of the European Union, either because they are destined to integrate the European Union (Balkans), or because they adjoin the borders, where a crisis has an economic and human impact (immigration, for example) on nearby European countries. But they can also take place in distant countries where Europe nevertheless considers it has interests (Congo, Mali, Indian Ocean, etc.).

A capacity and industrial policy in its infancy

The operational CSDP policy is coupled with capability concepts, in order to have the means to carry out these missions. In itself, this can contribute to strengthening European industry. But no automatic link is made between the two objectives: the establishment of the capacities necessary to carry out the CSDP missions can be done without necessarily developing an industrial capacity but simply by using equipment available on the world market (American notably).

At the same time as this policy has gradually developed in either an intergovernmental or community framework, a policy aimed at structuring defense markets. It is not (or at least not yet) an industrial policy but a dual-purpose regulation policy. On the one hand, we must ensure that national defense structures can adapt to new civil regulatory requirements (Single Sky, data protection, etc.) and/or ensure that their specificity is preserved. On the other hand, it is a question of harmonizing different rules (public procurement, exports of goods, etc.) existing within the European Union, bearing in mind precisely the specificity of this market. Work carried out mainly by the European Commission with the European Defense Agency.

Related policies

To this, we must add other policies, which are being implemented at the community level, and which concern security:

  1. the creation of a “civil protection” competence to deal with natural or technological disasters or the protection of “critical infrastructures”;
  2. consultation on terrorism policy;
  3. the development of a policy to fight against immigration, with the Frontex agency, which is in an embryonic phase;
  4. certain industrial-capacity projects, such as the Galileo geolocation system and GMES satellite operation, which are primarily civilian but can contribute to these “civil defense” or even military policies.

If we combine all these instruments, we arrive indeed at a European defense policy which has not yet found all its coherence and all its political translation but presents significant development possibilities.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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).