Select Committee on European Union Seventh Report

CHAPTER 3: the scope of the eu's civilian crisis management

22.  There is disagreement between the Member States concerning the appropriate objectives for the ESDP, including its civilian aspects. Should the EU be able to intervene globally or merely in its own region? Should the EU be able to do a full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks, or should there be burden sharing with other organisations? In this section we look at the objectives and evaluate the danger in the current lack of clarity on civilian ESDP.

Where Should The EU Intervene?

23.  The EU has named no specific geographical limits to civilian ESDP. According to the British Government 'In principle, the EU could agree to run a civilian crisis management operation anywhere in the world'.[37] The Council decides every six months on crisis management priorities in the so called 'global overview'—which defines some 25-30 areas of incipient crisis which the various Council bodies monitor, in particular the Joint Situation Centre.[38]

24.  For the moment, the EU appears likely only to intervene in its own region. Mr Feith, Deputy Director General at the Council, said quite unequivocally 'for us the Balkans is the priority as far as ESDP is concerned'.[39] More specifically, Mr Feith mentioned ESDP engagements in 'Bosnia and in Macedonia'[40] although he predicted a military mission 'elsewhere in the vicinity of Europe'.

25.  The fact that the EU speaks of global ambition but only acts locally is a cause of regret for some of the witnesses who gave evidence to the Committee. The International Crisis Group maintains that it is important that the EU is perceived to have genuinely a global agenda.[41] Other witnesses explained that it is more helpful for other actors that the EU is frank about its intentions to continue focusing on the Balkans.[42]

Co-operation With Other Organisations And Third Countries

26.  There are a number of organisations, both intergovernmental and non-governmental, who are currently active in civilian crisis management. In Europe, the OSCE is the most established actor, while the UN is globally recognised for its conflict prevention and crisis work. In establishing another civilian crisis management capacity the EU needs to be mindful of several potential problems:

Double-hatting: The Committee was informed that there are insufficient numbers of experts for all crisis management missions.[43] The UN, OSCE and EU draw on the same pool of trained personnel. This fact led one witness to recommend UN/EU common training modules, to maximise interoperability.[44]

Duplication: Given the limited number of experts and the limited financing which has been committed to crisis management, any duplication of crisis management services is worrying. One clear example is the ESDP Civil Protection mechanism. The mechanism mirrors the dispatch of assessment and co-ordination teams by the UN through the United Nations Disaster Assessment Co-ordination (UNDAC) system (managed by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs; OCHA).

Shifting Institutional Responsibility: The third danger in the EU's development of civilian crisis management capacity is that this will blur the lines of authority between the organisations. To prevent this relevant international organisations should create a plan which determines organisational responsibility under set foreseeable circumstances. It would be a mistake to leave this task until the next crisis; under those circumstances institutional rivalries concerning responsibilities would be embarrassing and dangerous, particularly when the same countries are members of the same organisations.[45] While some flexibility should be retained, knowing which agency is suitable for acting in certain crises would save valuable time in deploying the most appropriate crisis managers.

27.  The dangers of duplication and shifting organisational responsibility are well recognised. Witnesses stressed the need to co-ordinate with other organisations.[46] 'HMG consistently stresses that the EU should ensure that its civilian crisis management activity is developed in a mutually reinforcing way with that of other organisations'.[47] The OSCE was singled out as a particularly important partner.[48] The EU and OSCE share geographical territory, membership and operate extensively within common areas, for example election and human rights monitoring. Saferworld emphasised that 'the OSCE is to the EU civilian crisis management what NATO is to EU military crisis management'.[49]

28.  The Committee was told that relations with NATO were good.[50] Nevertheless, it is still the case that EU civilians cannot operate directly under NATO command. At present NATO and the EU are working closely together, for example in Bosnia under SFOR (Stabilisation Force) and EUPM.[51]

29.  Macedonia was cited by witnesses as an example of effective co-operation where the EU led in creating a diplomatic and political climate which allowed the deployment of NATO peacekeepers. These peacekeepers then worked very well with the OSCE's broader mandate for security sector reform. One example was the provision of maps identifying the location of minefields supplied by NATO to OSCE.[52]

30.  The Committee took evidence from several non-governmental organisations (NGOs).[53] It would appear that some NGOs have good relations with the Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management Unit in the Commission and the Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit in the Council. It was suggested to the Committee that there is good co-operation at senior levels. Commissioner Patten appears to take NGOs very seriously, as do Lord Robertson and High Representative Javier Solana.[54]

31.  At an operational level, however, sufficient co-ordination appears to be lacking.[55] 'There is still insufficient understanding of the role of NGOs and civil society in general and the impact they can have in a crisis situation'.[56] Saferworld recommend that an effective system of policy dialogue between NGOs, the Council and the Commission should be established. 'It is important that the EU's civilian crisis management policy and operation is informed by policy dialogue involving NGOs and other civil society groups working on the ground'.[57] The Committee agrees.

32.  The EU needs to re-visit its relations with other 'third countries' when considering action under civilian ESDP. BASIC[58] suggested that the EU should not attempt civilian crisis management without the United States, Russia, Canada, Switzerland and Norway.[59] The Committee notes that the US is the only one of those countries listed by BASIC which did not offer personnel to help staff the EUPM.

33.  The Committee recommends that the EU give a clearer definition of the type of operation that it might consider undertaking to allow for more effective co-operation with several key organisations; in particular NATO, UN, OSCE, as well as relevant NGOs.

34.  The Committee notes that clear objectives are vital for defining the function of civilian ESDP and for co-ordination with other crisis management organisations. The Committee recommends that the geographical scope of civilian ESDP is related to the resources and structures available.

35.  It is crucial that relevant agencies co-ordinate on the ground to avoid unnecessary and potentially competitive duplication and to ensure that appropriate information is shared. We recommend that relevant international organisations create a plan which determines organisational responsibility under set foreseeable circumstances.

37   p39. Back

38   Q87. Back

39   Q109. Back

40   Q123. Back

41   Q49. Back

42   Q186. Back

43   p51-p52. Back

44   Q182. Back

45   p49. Back

46   p48. Back

47   p40. Back

48   Q18, Q20. Back

49   p59. Back

50   p37. Back

51   p40. Back

52   Q182. Back

53   BASIC, EPLO, European Centre for Common Ground, ICG, Saferworld. Back

54   Q7. Back

55   Q7. Back

56   Q184. Back

57   p58. Back

58   BASIC-British American Security Information Council. Back

59   p49. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003