EU and the comprehensive approach
New DIIS Report by Eva Gross on the Civil-Military agenda
EU efforts at implementing a comprehensive approach – and what it has termed Civil-Military Coordination (CMCO) – must be understood in the context of both the growth of the EU as a security provider by means of civilian and military crisis operations under the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), and of a changing security environment in which state failure and international terrorism increasingly require both civilian and military solutions. Operational experience in the Balkans, sub-Saharan Africa and more recently Afghanistan has further demonstrated the need to combine civilian and military crisis management in order to address security challenges that include the fight against organized crime, the need to reform the police and justice sector, or the provision of military forces on a short-term basis in support of larger peace-keeping missions.
The EU has a range of political, economic but also security instruments at its disposal to respond to international crisis situations that span the divide between the two pillars. The emphasis on
|‘effective multilateralism’ and the EU’s commitment to a multilateral, rule-based order make coordination and cooperation with other international actors, mainly the UN and NATO, a key feature of coordination efforts. The increasing number of civilian crisis missions in particular, which rely on Commission cooperation and financing and that often take place in support of or in cooperation with other international actors, including NATO and the UN, bear witness to the importance of a culture of coordination that is built out of ‘co-operation and shared political objectives’ in which ‘working together is an essential element…of EU crisis management’.
However, the experience of EU crisis missions over the past five years has shown that the practical application of CMCO in EU crisis management leaves much to be desired when it comes to internal coordination, but also when it comes to cooperation with other international actors. Having at its disposal a broad range of instruments has not translated into increasing coordination or mission effectiveness due to inter-institutional competition, different agenda-setting, and different decision-making processes in the respective pillars. While the institutional provisions in the Lisbon Treaty promise some improvement by abolishing the inter-pillar divide and increasing foreign-policy coherence through the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the timing of the implementation of these provisions, as well as their impact on EU crisis management, is uncertain due to the ongoing ratification process of the Treaty.
Similarly, coordination with other international actors has been hampered by different operational priorities and personalities in the case of the UN, as well as inter-institutional competition in the case of NATO. In addition, member states commitments to EU crisis management, let alone CMCO, have not translated into either adequate capabilities, levels of staffing, or the appropriate financing of missions, with increasingly detrimental effects on the running of individual missions. Differing conceptions not only of the role of ESDP, but also of what constitutes a ‘comprehensive approach’ among member states, have further impeded progress on improving civil-military coordination.
This leads to two conclusions on how to improve CMCO and the performance of EU crisis management in the field. First, given the central role of EU member states in this process, a consensus on CMCO in terms of conceptual definitions as well as operational priorities has to be reached among EU member states, and ‘uploaded’ on to the EU level. Secondly, member states have to increase their respective commitments to EU capabilities in terms of both financial and personnel support in order for the EU to play a key role in crisis management.