Select Committee on European Union Seventh Report

CHAPTER 1: introduction

1.  The period since the end of the Cold War has been characterised by widespread international instability. Conflicts have raged from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone, from Angola to Chechnya; while failed or failing states threaten to descend into chaos. Military force alone cannot tackle actual or potential instability. Thus, although American military might succeeded in toppling the Taliban regime in a matter of months, it will take years to achieve long-term stability in Afghanistan. Closer to home, the Balkans remain politically fragile in the wake of almost a decade of brutal ethnic conflict; the trend of failing states seems likely to accelerate in the future. In order to buttress security a variety of policy instruments are required. These range from military force to civilian instruments.

2.  Does the European Union have a role to play in trying to prevent and resolve such instability and conflict? The EU, hitherto a civilian actor, has played an important, if often unnoticed role in stabilising regions threatened with insecurity by using the economic, technical and political means available to the Community. Going beyond that Britain and France spearheaded an EU effort to establish a European Rapid Reaction Force in 1998; a military force to carry out the 'Petersberg tasks'.[1] In response, the Nordic countries, drawing on their strong traditions in the area of conflict prevention and supported by the German Red-Green coalition, insisted that civilian crisis management capabilities are developed alongside the military aspects of the new European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).[2] The European Council in Cologne in 1999, and subsequent Councils in Helsinki, Feira, Nice and Gothenburg established four headline goals for civilian ESDP in the areas of policing, rule of law, civil administration and civil protection. Civilian ESDP is intended to allow Member States to respond at short notice to crises requiring non-military intervention. In November 2002, the Danish Presidency declared that the four headline goals had been met.

3.  Considering the dearth of media and political attention that has been given to civilian ESDP in comparison to the military aspirations of ESDP it is interesting that the first ever ESDP mission is non-military; the EU took over the international police mission in Bosnia on 1 January 2003. Nonetheless, current policies on civilian ESDP are not yet certain. Many issues have not been finalised; for example the Committee examined the timing of civilian ESDP missions: should such missions only come into play following a military campaign, or is there scope for combining military and civilian missions? We accordingly concluded that an inquiry would be timely and of value.

4.  In carrying out our investigation into civilian ESDP, we[3] identified two key issues for consideration:

·  The scope of the EU's civilian crisis management function:

Does civilian ESDP perform functions that could not be carried out as well or better by other organisations? The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has been active in police missions in the Balkans for some time and initially appeared to be the obvious candidate to take over the International Police Task Force in Bosnia when the UN mandate expired.[4] Member States already make active civilian contributions through a number of other organisations, most notably the OSCE and the UN and some, including Britain, are willing to act in a purely national capacity.[5] We therefore examined whether the civilian ESDP provides added value to international crisis management provision.

·  The structures in place to formulate and implement civilian ESDP:

Four headline goals have been established; do they form the basis for effective crisis management? Do the international organisations in Brussels allow for effective civilian crisis management? Civilian ESDP was created as an intergovernmental policy area in the second pillar of the EU Treaty.[6] It therefore has to coexist alongside the Commission's pre-existing prerogatives in the area of conflict prevention. In theory there is a clear distinction between conflict prevention (managed by the Commission) and crisis management (controlled by the Council). In practice the distinction is far from clear and can give rise to tension between the various institutions, as has been exemplified by the EU Police Mission in Bosnia[7] (hereafter EUPM). Although the EU has previously funded police training missions across the world from the EC budget, as managed by the Commission, it decided to take on the EUPM through its civilian ESDP procedures and hence run it more directly from the Council. We were keen to explore the implications of the potentially overlapping areas of competence of the Council and the Commission and their implications, particularly in terms of financing, as well as the scope for much better co-ordination between the Commission and the Council, and joint use in an emergency of their respective funds and instruments.

1   The Cologne European Council meeting in June 1999 placed crisis management tasks at the core of the process of strengthening the European common security and defence policy; these are also known as the Petersberg Tasks (named after the place where the Western European Union Ministerial Council met in June 1992). Included are humanitarian, rescue, peacekeeping and combat-force tasks in crisis management including peacemaking. Back

2   Q25. Back

3   Members of the Sub-Committee are set out in Appendix 1. Back

4   Q195, Q196. Back

5   Q151. Back

6   Pillar One: European Community; Pillar Two: Intergovernmental/EU CFSP, ESDP; Pillar Three Intergovernmental/Police and Judicial Co-operation in criminal matters. Back

7   See para 15 for detailed discussion of the EUPM. Back

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