Select Committee on European Union Thirty-First Report

FOREWORD—What this Report is about

The EU's 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS) was a milestone document representing the collective thinking of the EU Member States on the challenges and security threats facing them at the beginning of the 21st century. Our report aims to contribute to the review of the ESS currently underway in the EU which will be discussed at the December 2008 European Council. We assess the Strategy and its implementation, and the changes in the international security environment since 2003, and we make a number of recommendations. We do not, however, set out to evaluate every event or trend, or all the security challenges which were dealt with in the original strategy.

We believe that the 2003 Strategy was a good, concise document and that any revision should not be significantly longer. It should, however, include references to areas where there have been significant changes since 2003: climate change (where the UK and the EU should play a leading role); the links between security and development (where action should include achieving human security, preventing and resolving conflicts, and tackling the root causes of conflict and radicalisation in developing countries); energy security; the concept of responsibility to protect (which should be put into operation); and multilateral nuclear disarmament. We consider that implementation, a key area, could be covered in a separate document.

Given the importance of Europe's security, we encourage the European Council, Commission and Member States to make greater use of the Strategy as a point of reference and to attempt to increase public interest in the Strategy. We point to the importance for Europe's security of the EU's enlargement process and its Neighbourhood Policy and the need to work with partners as part of effective multilateralism. In particular, events in Georgia have brought the relationship with Russia into focus and emphasised the challenge which Russia presents both as a partner and a source of risk and instability.

We conclude that implementation of the Security Strategy is a key area on which the EU should focus its efforts; action plans or sub-strategies could take implementation forward. We express concern that, despite improvements, the EU still suffers from major shortfalls in the provision of military and civilian capabilities by its Member States, and needs greater resources if its capacity to take on new crisis management operations abroad is not to reach its limit. We also believe that coordination between the EU's external and internal security policies should be strengthened.

Finally, we say that the question of coherence in the EU's institutions and policies will need to be addressed seriously with or without the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty if the effectiveness of the EU's actions in the security field is not to fall far short of its aspirations.

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