Europe in the world: Towards a more effective EU foreign and security strategy Contents

Chapter 5: The ways and means of a strategy

170.A new EU foreign and security policy will only be meaningful if it also identifies the tools and resources necessary to deliver the objectives. The EU will need ways (courses of action) and means (instruments) to deliver its foreign policy objectives. The ways and means fall both to the Commission (partnership agreements, trade and development) and to the Member States (hard power, diplomatic resources, international standing and political guidance.)

171.Three assumptions have guided us:

172.We believe the effort would be worthwhile. No other international actor possesses such a range of tools: if used effectively they “would make the European Union a formidable actor in the international community”.227

Flexible, decisive and timely action: ad hoc groups of Member States

173.The Prime Minister has said that the:

“EU must be able to act with the speed and flexibility of a network, not the cumbersome rigidity of a bloc …. Let’s welcome that diversity, instead of trying to snuff it out.”228

174.Mr Vimont agreed that the EU needed to “be flexible” and “capable of moving quickly” in the event of a crisis, and recommended ad hoc groups as a way to achieve this.229 According to Mr Lidington, for the EU to work effectively on foreign policy, it would often “need initiatives to be developed by a smaller group of countries that are prepared to do the work and then present it to their colleagues as a way forward.”230

175.Three successful examples of such groupings were described to us, which share a key characteristic: Commission means used effectively in the service of political objectives.

E3+3 Iran negotiations

176.The negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, leading to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Programme (14 July 2015) were cited as a good example of an ad hoc grouping.231 Mr Sainty set out the process: political engagement and negotiations had taken place at the Member State level through the E3+3 format—the UK, France and Germany with US, Russia and China. Meanwhile, EU instruments such as “restrictive measures” had “maintained pressure on the Iranians and kept them at the table negotiating in a serious way.”232

177.The High Representative was engaged in the Iran negotiations. It was “interesting and quite striking” that the three Member States of the E3+3 (in 2003) “immediately came to the conclusion that [the then High Representative, Javier Solana] … should be the chair of the small group, in order for the other Member States … to feel a sense of ownership”.233 Mr Sainty explained that both the current High Representative, Mrs Federica Mogherini, and her predecessor, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, “supported by a team of External Action Service diplomats, played an instrumental co-ordination and facilitation role” in the negotiations. Furthermore, the “High Representative acted as the E3+3’s informal spokesperson.”234

178.Mr Sainty suggested that the Union’s “perceived political neutrality” was an asset in this context: it allowed the EU to “play the part of a neutral broker between the E3+3 and the Iranian Government.” This gave the EU “an edge” over what an individual Member State, such as the UK, might be able to achieve.235

Normandy Format

179.The Normandy Format (Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia), which had delivered the Minsk Agreement, was highlighted as another effective ad hoc grouping.236 The Minsk Agreement in February 2015 was brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, negotiating with the Ukrainian and Russian presidents. Mr Richard Lindsay, Head of Security Policy Department, Defence and International Security Directorate, FCO, explained that as part of the origin of the Russian approach to Ukraine had been its relationship with the EU, the EU “was less likely to be the most effective actor in solving a conflict in that region. The EU was “not delivering the Normandy format”, rather it was “delivered by different members, as [was] appropriate in the circumstances.”237

180.The second step, as with the Iran deal, was for Member States to use wider EU instruments to support their political goals. Mr Lindsay informed us that the “EU very quickly established the EU mission to assist with security sector reform within Ukraine”, he added that the mission was “starting to deliver effect.”238 Significant economic sanctions were also imposed on Russia and favourable trade preferences offered to Ukraine.

181.The Normandy Format had been weakened, according to Mr Vimont, by the fact that it did not “have that European chair or presence on board.” He understood that the Russians were opposed to the involvement of an EU representative and acknowledged the regular information and updates offered by the French and Germans. However, it was “not exactly the same”, and some Member States were “not entirely satisfied with this way of doing things.”239

Anglo-German Initiative in Bosnia-Herzegovina

182.A final example of an ad hoc grouping, cited by Mr Lidington and Professor Fagan, was the Anglo-German initiative to catalyse reform in Bosnia-Herzegovina in late 2014.240 Mr Lidington explained the genesis: both London and Berlin had been deeply concerned that the Commission-led reform process was “at risk of slipping backwards”.241

183.The two countries took the initiative. The first discussions took place at a bilateral level: UK and German “officials, and ultimately our two Foreign Ministers, got together and agreed on a plan.” The UK and Germany “talked to the High Representative and other Governments about it, and it was eventually, after discussion, accepted as the position of the EU as a whole.” That, Mr Lidington concluded, “was a good illustration of how this can work to everybody’s benefit.”242

184.Professor Fagan was positive about the results: it was “one of the most successful initiatives in recent years.” The new focus on the economy and growth, led by Germany and the UK, had “unlocked the stalemate on Bosnia’s progress in moving forward with the enlargement process.” Now, “Bosnia looks as though it is ready to apply for membership.” The initiative “was also warmly welcomed by the Bosnians, who felt that it broke through the blandness of an EU strategy”.243

185.Professor Fagan noted that other candidate countries would also value such an approach:

“following year after year of progress reports and bureaucratic engagement with the Commission, the injection of realpolitik to deal with the Government of a powerful state is often very welcome.”244

Methodology for ad hoc groupings

186.Mr Vimont suggested a methodology for how ad hoc groupings could work most effectively:

187.We also heard how not do to it. In 2012 and 2013, the French had twice acted alone, and then requested a financial contribution from other Member States. In Mali, the French had to respond urgently to a possible coup, but “to do the same afterwards” in the Central African Republic had caused consternation. Other Member States “were all taken by surprise and had the impression that the French were just asking for money without further information, consultation or co-operation”.249

Conclusions and recommendations

188.Ad hoc groups are the most useful available format for rapid, decisive and ambitious action by Member States, which can then become the wider EU position. We recommend that, in order to gain the widest possible support among Member States, ad hoc groups should include the High Representative.

189.The new strategy should explore how the instruments of the EU—the Commission and EEAS—can be mobilised to support such groups, for instance by supplying them with the logistical support that is required for these groups to function.

Case study: Syria—an ad hoc group?

190.We asked our witnesses for their assessment of the role that Member States could play in the Vienna peace process. In particular, we asked if an ad hoc group of Member States could lead EU diplomacy.

Box 1: Syria: The Vienna Process

The Vienna Process is a new diplomatic initiative, launched under US and Russian leadership, which aims to chart a political process to end the Syrian conflict. The process started in a quartet format, involving the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The quartet was subsequently enlarged into the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which includes the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the UN and the US.

The ISSG has met on three occasions. After the second meeting on 14 November 2015, the outlines of a roadmap and timetable towards a ceasefire and political process were set out. The ISSG agreed: 250

  • To implement a ceasefire as soon as the Syrian government and opposition have begun talks towards transition. The ceasefire would not apply to offensive or defence actions against ISIL, Al-Nusra or any other terrorist groups;
  • To support “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within a period of six months and set up a schedule for drafting a new constitution;
  • That free and fair elections, administered by the UN, would be held within 18 months;
  • That Jordan would help develop a common understanding of terrorist individuals and groups;
  • That the five Permanent Members of the UNSC would support a UNSC resolution to institute a new UN monitoring mission;
  • Expedited humanitarian access; and
  • On the need to convene Syrian government and opposition representatives under UN auspices, as soon as possible.

On 18 December the UNSC endorsed the roadmap and set the timetable for talks. In January 2016 the UN Secretary General convened the representatives of the Syrian government and main opposition groups to engage in formal negotiations.

191.Our witnesses were clear that the political process was led by the Quartet. Mr Pierini said that there was no EU “role today, quite obviously”, but in the future “there has to be a role because [the EU] cannot leave the US and the Russians to handle it on their own.”251 Syria was “the kind of problem where collectively Member States do not have strong military means, so they are complementary to the US”, whereas “on the diplomatic side they have more means”, which could be useful.252 For Professor Drezner, the timing was not propitious: a role could be more likely once the Russians realised they could not change the facts on ground. When parties to the conflict were “looking for an alternative solution”, then the EU “could potentially play a role”.253

192.Mr Vimont believed that the EU had “many cards in its hand that it could play to act as an honest broker between the different partners”. The main challenge was that Member States were not agreed and united on an EU position. If all Member States were on-board, it would be an “extraordinary opportunity” for Europe to offer an objective view and to bring all the different parties to the table.254

Conclusions and recommendations

193.The EU’s limited role in the Vienna political process is a function of the divisions between Member States and of the fact that the EU is not a security provider in the region.

194.The EU has a direct interest in the resolution of the conflict in Syria, not least because of the flow of refugees from Syria to the EU. Member States must seek to define a coherent position internally, and seek a more central role. The EU will be essential in order to deliver a credible sanctions package, should that prove necessary, and could offer important international support to a political solution.

195.There is also a potential role for EU on the ‘day after’, which must be grasped. Member States should mandate the High Representative and the EEAS to explore measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, manage regional and local ceasefires, strengthen local authorities and establish forums for dialogue. The aftermath of the war will be a critical time for Syria, and the EU has the tools to play an important and constructive role.

Improved decision-making: recalibration of the EU institutions

196.Decision making by unanimity protects Member States. As Mr Lidington said, unanimity in foreign policy was “the ultimate safeguard written into the treaties. Not even the smallest EU member can be overridden by a majority vote.”255 On the other hand, we judge, there is a risk that decision making by unanimity can also act as a strait jacket, hindering ambition and decisiveness in EU foreign policy.

197.Unused provisions of the TEU could improve the agility of decision-making. Professor Steven Blockmans, Head of EU Foreign Policy, Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels) and Professor of EU External Relations Law and Governance, University of Amsterdam, said serious thought should be given to opportunities “to render the intergovernmental method of CFSP decision-making more efficient and effective.”256 He pointed to the four exceptions to unanimity in decision making listed in TEU Article 31(2), whereby the Council can decide by Qualified Majority Voting in the following circumstances:

(a)When adopting a decision relating to the EU’s strategic interests and objectives;

(b)On a proposal from High Representative following a specific request from the European Council;

(c)When implementing a decision defining a Union action or position; and

(d)When appointing a special representative.

198.The second of these exceptions “would leave the High Representative plenty of room for initiative to operationalise” the new strategy on foreign and security policy.257

199.Professor Blockmans also suggested that the “constructive abstention” mechanism could be useful. Article 31(1) TEU allows any Member of the Council to abstain in a vote, and in doing so that Member State “shall not be obliged to apply the decision, but shall accept that the decision commits the Union.” The TEU had “widened the legal space to accommodate Member States’ interests in abstaining from CFSP decision-making by unanimity.” So far the mechanism has only been used once—Cyprus abstained when the Council adopted the Decision establishing the EULEX Kosovo mission (a civilian CSDP rule of law mission) in February 2008.258

200.Such use of the constructive abstention mechanism would be consistent with the view of Professor Stefanie Hofmann and Mr Ueli Staeger, Centre on Conflict, Peacebuilding and Development, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, who wrote that while the EU encouraged “a discourse that suggests that a powerful EU needs to be a united EU”, in fact diversity was a “strength and not a weakness of the EU.” It should be acceptable to “agree to disagree”.259

Conclusions and recommendations

201.Unanimity among Member States is often too high a bar for EU foreign and security policy: it acts as a strait jacket on the ambition and agility of EU foreign policy. The provisions of the TEU offer Member States opportunities to act within the EU but without consensus. Member States should take advantage of these opportunities.

202.We recommend that the foreign and security policy should give high-level political guidance on when these more flexible mechanisms might be used, and—in order to reassure Member States—when they would not be acceptable.

Co-ordinating the Commission instruments: the role of the European External Action Service

203.The instruments of the Commission are wide-ranging: Mr Sainty highlighted that, in addition to conventional diplomatic and security activity, the EU had “all these other levers, such as energy, trade, migration, development and so on, to help deliver its priorities.”260 In 2015 the budget for the EU’s external policy—Global Europe heading IV—dwarfed the funding for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, at €8.7 billion and €321 million respectively.261

204.Dr Westcott said that the ‘comprehensive approach’ was underpinned by the fact that all the EU’s “instruments and different bits of the institutions need to pull in the same direction.”262 Dr Henökl, though, said that the ‘comprehensive approach’ had only been delivered partially.263 The new strategy, Mr Lidington suggested, was an opportunity to “set the diplomatic work alongside the work led by the Commission on energy, humanitarian aid, development, trade and so on, within the broad context of Europe’s strategic foreign policy priorities.”264

205.Witnesses noted that the EEAS had an important role to play in adding the geopolitical element to Commission policy.265 We heard different views on how well the EEAS and Commission worked together. Mr Lidington said there had been recent examples where the relationship had not “worked as effectively as it ought to have done. That is a pity and it needs to be addressed”.266 Dr Neil Winn, Senior Lecturer in European Studies, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, noted the “intense competition between the two institutions across all areas of EU external action.”267 This could lead to a “poorly co-ordinated and sometimes ineffectual response.”268

206.In contrast, both the Commission and the EEAS told us they enjoyed regular, constructive and close working relations.269 Mr Hahn said that working relations between the EEAS and Commission were good.270

207.Dr Balfour highlighted the effective co-ordination role that had been played by the EEAS in facilitating the high-level dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo in 2012–2014. The EEAS had played a critical role: its negotiating team “worked with the Commission staff in charge of enlargement”, and the High Representative “consulted with Member States on agreeing to provide incentives to the two countries to help the implementation of the agreements.” Finally, “EU Delegations supported the parties in implementing the agreements on the ground”, and “the international community backed the entire process.”271

208.Witnesses welcomed one recent improvement, namely that the High Representative has co-ordinated a Commissioners’ Group on External Action, bringing together all the Commissioners with external policy portfolios. This group meets at least once a month. Mr Hahn explained that so far the system was “working well”, with co-ordination at all levels between the relevant Commission Directorates General and the EEAS. Staff from both institutions collaborate to prepare the agendas and meetings.272

209.Mr Vimont suggested some institutional recalibrations that would help the EEAS operate more efficiently:

210.Mr Vimont also advocated giving the EEAS the “resources it needs … the creation of a diplomatic administration with adequate resources should be one of the EU’s main goals.”275 However, this position was not shared by the UK Government, which would not propose any “large increases” in the budget of the EEAS.276

Conclusions and recommendations

211.European Commission instruments need to be co-ordinated and aligned with the priorities of Member States—the means better aligned with the objectives. The EEAS has a critical role to play here.

212.The EEAS should not be constrained by rigid working practices. The High Representative, in her dual role, should streamline and simplify its working practices to allow briefings to be produced in in a timely manner.

Using the Commission instruments strategically

213.We considered how the Commission’s instruments should be applied to make a meaningful impact.

Functional and differentiated approach

214.Taking the MENA as a case study, Professor Tripp advised the EU to approach the region “country by country”. A “functional” approach should consider what resources the EU had at its disposal and what means it had to effect change. The support of Member States would be necessary.277 Mr Sainty suggested that the MENA region could be divided into:

Sensitivity to local conditions

215.Commission instruments can only function when the local conditions are propitious. Our witnesses identified two factors which should be taken into account.

216.First, the EU could only act with the support of local partners. Mr Meredith said that within the ENP there should be “stronger ownership by the partners.”281 Mr Imad Mesdoua, Political Analyst, Africa Matters Limited, stressed that ownership was critical for the success of the programmes; without it, the EU was likely to face “rejection or ineffective policies and no follow-through from local authorities.”282

217.Second, assistance programmes should consider the capacity of a country to absorb such assistance. Professor Fagan offered the example of Georgia, where EU aid “cannot be absorbed.” There was “an enormous time lag” and Georgia was “still trying to implement projects that were awarded four, five or six years ago.”283

218.More generally, we were told that the ENP—the Commission policy that governs relations with neighbouring countries—is not effective in dealing with countries in conflict. Mr Watt said that countries “very preoccupied with their internal struggles” did not have much of “an attention span” for “regional co-operation and, indeed, for soft power generally.” It was not, he added, that the EU was not “trying hard”; it was just that it was “not sufficient”, and “doing more of it [was] not the answer.”284

219.Finally, witnesses told us that the Member States could bring deep local knowledge and networks in the region and the EU should leverage “individual Member States’ strengths”.285 Mr Mesdoua explained that a country like France would have “obvious advantages, connections, links and know-how in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia”, and the “same with the UK in Egypt and Italy in Libya.”286

Trade agreements and economic partnerships

220.Mr Sainty said that the size and wealth of the EU gave it “the power to deliver commercially beneficial trade agreements”, which could be translated into a “lever to promote values such as human rights, democracy and political reconciliation.”287 The “size and reach of the EU’s financial instruments, particularly development budgets and economic partnerships”, was also an external policy asset.288 Professor Smith agreed that the “EU’s greatest strength and comparative advantage is its longer-term policy.” The EU’s “trade, aid and structured relationships with third countries could allow it to have more impact on preventing conflicts, atrocities and gross human rights violations.”289 Professor Fagan told us that when Bosnians sought membership of the Union, what they valued was “potential access to the single market and the ability … to study, travel and work in the rest of Europe.”290

221.The Commission has recognised the value of trade in promoting the EU’s agenda. The Joint Communication on the Review of the ENP, published on 18 November 2015, noted that a “key instrument in promoting prosperity in the ENP so far has been granting access to the EU market.”291

222.Access to the single market is a geopolitical tool that has been used to deliver the Union’s security objectives. For instance, the Commission is currently negotiating a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with Tunisia.292 This will be a wide-ranging agreement, including chapters on services, investment, competition, customs and trade facilitation, alleviating regulatory barriers to trade, public procurement, sustainable development and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.293 Professor Tripp informed us that trade between the EU and Tunisia constituted around 60% of Tunisia’s foreign trade. He noted a trade imbalance and an outflow of capital which had weakened the Tunisian economy and contributed to unemployment. The EU was “extraordinarily well-equipped” to deal with these challenges: it had the instruments and the political will to do so. This was a “huge priority”—at the heart of the challenges in Tunisia was an “economic crisis.”294 Mr Mesdoua agreed that the “security challenge” in Tunisia was linked in “many ways to the economic and political challenge the country [was] facing”, including “structural inequalities between the north and south” and “young people who are marginalised and without jobs”.295

223.The EU has also signed a DCFTA with Ukraine, which came into effect on 1 January 2016. Overall, the EU and Ukraine will eliminate over 90% of trade duties between the two sides. Ukrainian exporters are expected to save €487m annually due to reduced EU import duties. In return, Ukraine will remove around €391m in duties on imports from the EU. Ukrainian agriculture is expected to benefit most from cuts in duties: €300m for agricultural products, and €53m for processed agricultural products. 296 We note that Russian opposition to the DCFTA with Ukraine was a salutary lesson on the need for caution in the use of these tools.

Conclusions and recommendations

224.Commission instruments have been used in too diluted and disparate a manner. The Commission must do less, and do it better. Member States must provide the necessary guidance.

225.Commission instruments have a potentially valuable role to play in securing the conditions that underpin the long-term security, prosperity and stability of the Union and third countries. However, at the moment, Commission instruments are too isolated from the EU’s foreign and security policy objectives.

226.We recommend that the new strategy should review how Commission instruments can more effectively support the foreign and security policy objectives of the Union. Trade agreements and technical agreements should be pursued when it is clear that they will deliver leverage in third countries and promote security, stability and prosperity in both the partner country and the EU.

227.Steps should be taken to align the priorities and strengths of Member States and the Commission. The strategic review should consider how Member States and the Commission can work together more coherently both at the level of programming and implementation on the ground.

228.Commission instruments should only be used in countries where there is local support and political acceptance for the EU’s approach. Tunisia meets these criteria. Libya, under a new Government of National Accord, may also do so.

Case study: Tunisia and Libya—security sector reform

229.The evidence suggests the EU could also make a valuable contribution in security sector reform. In our view, consideration should be given to how the Commission’s means could better support the political goals and actions of Member States in security sector reform.

230.For instance, Mr Mesdoua explained that Tunisia faced a security challenge, with domestic radicalisation and the insecurity in neighbouring Libya. Security sector reform was therefore “an important area” in which the EU could assist.297 Mr Pierini agreed.298

231.On Libya, Professor Tripp said that once a political agreement was in place “the capacity for assisting just on the technical level and in a non-lethal way” would be “enormous.”299 In the course of a one-off hearing on Libya in July 2015, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, former British Ambassador to Libya, agreed that EU security assistance—which “could run the gamut from a physical presence on the ground … through to logistic, intelligence and some specialised niche support along with advice, training and equipping”—would be required.300

232.Mr Lindsay agreed that the EU was “very well-placed …. to provide both financial and practical support” for a Government of National Accord.301 Mr Mesdoua believed that a new Government would need “time to cement its authority, to grow”, and to “rebuild the foundations of the Libyan state.” The EU could contribute “both directly and indirectly to that.” EU assistance to build institutional capacity would be necessary to combat security issues such as terrorism and migration.302

233.There was, however, a risk that Member States would neglect these countries. Mr Pierini said that the EU appeared to have calculated that Tunisia was small, peaceful and could be left “for tomorrow, except that it [was] not, potentially, going to resolve itself by a miracle.”303 Looking at Libya, Sir Dominic Asquith emphasised the need for urgent action: “planning is being conducted … but it needs to be grasped quickly.” 304

Conclusions and recommendations

234.The EU can play a valuable role in security sector reform, but actions to support a country’s security capabilities must be undertaken with care. There is a risk of militarising security and reinforcing authoritarian power structures. The role and capability of the Commission to support security sector reform should be bolstered.

235.The danger is that Member States neglect countries where they can make a long-term impact, focusing instead on solving short-term crises, to the detriment of strategic planning. We are concerned that this could be the case for Tunisia and Libya.

Leveraging military capabilities

EU-NATO co-operation

236.Our witnesses told us that EU-NATO co-operation was not functioning. According to General Sir Richard Shirreff, the Berlin Plus agreements—which allow Member States access to NATO assets and capabilities for EU-led crisis management operations—were “dead in the water”.305

237.General Sir Richard Shirreff said that the EU and NATO needed to build better linkages to deliver “more effective civil-military co-operation.”306 One solution might be a “reverse Berlin Plus”, whereby “NATO can call upon the EU for some of the soft power capabilities the EU can bring to the party, as well as finance and funding.”307 Dr Kamp, on the other hand, questioned what assets the EU could bring to the table. If financial resources were required by the US, these would be negotiated at the heads of state level rather than through a formal agreement.308 Mr Rojansky suggested that the focus should be on practical areas of co-operation between the EU and NATO: “what are the specific capabilities that we need to respond on a precise, measured and controlled level to the kinds of provocations that we are likely to see?”309

238.Dr Kamp said it would be more useful to bring the two sides together—”the beauty contest is over and the EU and NATO can act together.” In particular, there was potential to take advantage of the two institutions’ common membership: it made “sense to understand the European NATO members, or the EU members, as the caucus in NATO.”310 He noted that the barrier to this was political—the ‘participation problem’311—but if that issue was “tackled at the top level it would not be impossible to solve.”312 Deeper co-operation between the EU and NATO would “certainly depend on the contingency and on the political will of the nations involved.”313

239.Dr Kamp’s reference to political will highlights a further challenge. General Sir Richard Shirreff pointed to a “progressive demilitarisation in Europe” over the last two decades.314 Mr Rojansky said that the post-Cold War domestic perception that Europe did not face a conventional security threat meant that it would be not be possible to “artificially conjure up political will for defence spending and military interventions or deployments without there being a real, clear and present danger.” His assessment was that the “mood will trail the real world events—the threat—probably by several months or several years.”315

240.Even if defence budgets do not increase, or increase only slightly, the EU could look at how its defence budgets and spending are structured in order to deliver more efficiencies through joint capabilities. Sir Robert Cooper said that while he was not in favour of a European army, he was in “favour of a European rifle” and the EU ought to do more “joint military procurement.”316 Savings made from integrating European defence could also be significant. A research paper by the European Parliament estimated that €600 million could be saved from the sharing of infantry vehicles and €500 million from having a collective system of certification of ammunition.317

241.There are challenges. As many witnesses pointed out to us, Member States diverge in their foreign policy and defence postures. The unevenness of spending and capabilities could create a burden-sharing problem inside the Union. As a result, Member States remain reluctant to rely on each other in the matter of defence.

Conclusions and recommendations

242.A key challenge in building better EU-NATO co-operation is the fundamental nature of the two organisations: NATO is a military alliance, with defence as its core business, which for the EU is a peripheral activity. This leads to a fundamental difference in culture and attitude between the two institutions. While steps such as joint programming and institutional and operational reform are useful, what is required is a change in the political and strategic culture of the organisations.

243.Such a cultural transformation and reorientation is enormously difficult to effect. Mechanisms such as joint scenario planning and shared exercises could help foster a closer cultural convergence and more formal and regular meetings of defence ministers would also be useful. Without such a convergence, the EU’s ability to exercise hard power will remain inchoate.

The Common Security and Defence Policy

244.Most of our witnesses found the CSDP wanting. Dr Federica Bicchi et al. said that the CSDP “produced relatively low-key and small civilian missions, mainly in its neighbourhood and in Africa.” The EU had not matched “the UN’s capacity to maintain international peace and security, and could not remotely match NATO’s capabilities to defend Europe”.318 Professor Menon and Mr Witney concluded that ongoing CSDP missions on Europe’s periphery were not much more than “tokenism.”319 Furthermore, Mr Hans Wessberg, Member, European Court of Auditors (ECA) and former State Secretary, Swedish Prime Minister’s Office, said the EU’s Battlegroups320 had failed as a “rapid deployment force”: they were “definitely not rapid”, had “never been deployed” and it remained unclear whether or not they were a force.321

245.By contrast, Mr Lindsay saw the added value of CSDP. It could deliver “hard-edged security” for conflict affected states.322 He offered the example of EU actions in Somalia, where the anti-piracy mission, Operation Atalanta, was launched in 2008. Since 2012, there have been no successful pirate attacks.323 Operation Atalanta had been complemented by EUCAP Nestor (a CSDP mission mandated to enhance the maritime capacities of Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Seychelles and Tanzania) and the EU training mission in Somalia (EUTM Somalia), which had contributed to training 3,600 Somali soldiers. This, Mr Lindsay explained, was the comprehensive approach in action: capacity building of naval forces, interdiction, judicial processes and the onshore security forces: “That is an example of the EU bringing together its different elements within the toolbox, and the outcome is quite startling”.324

246.Mr Lindsay added that CSDP missions could also complement NATO action. In Operation Atalanta, the EU was able to associate with Korean, Japanese and other naval forces that might “not necessarily have joined in with a NATO operation”. In Bosnia in 2004, on the other hand, the EU was able to deliver a transition mission (Operation Althea) from a NATO operation.325

247.We also heard of the added value of civilian CSDP missions. The EU Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan) was launched in 2007 to contribute to the establishment of a sustainable and effective police force. Mr Wessberg, who audited the mission for the ECA in 2014, had found a “rather professional police organisation with equipment that worked, with communications that worked, with policemen who could read and write—not all of them, but most of them—concerning themselves not only with fighting the Taliban but with the rule of law.” In 2014 the Afghan police “had organised and protected the freest and most secure election ever in Afghanistan”; EUPOL had “played a very big role”.326

Conclusions and recommendations

248.The CSDP adds value to the efforts of Member States and complements the role played by Member States on an independent basis or within NATO.

249.The CSDP should be directed towards managing crises in the wider neighbourhood: the capacity to restore security, support our regional partners and secure the EU border is a clear priority.

250.The new strategy—in its reflection on EU capabilities—should review the CSDP as a tool of crisis management in the wider neighbourhood. We urge the High Representative to initiate a debate on the overall purpose of the CSDP as a tool of crisis management, the balance of capabilities and resources required, the necessary institutional resources within the EEAS and Commission, and the cost implications.

Case study: UK contribution to CSDP

251.In order for the CSDP to function effectively, it needs the support of key military powers such as the UK. We asked the FCO to provide us with figures for the UK contribution—personnel and financial—to EU civilian and military CSDP operations (see Appendix 5).

252.We observe that the UK does not supply personnel to the missions in proportion to its population size in the EU (14.8%). On the other hand, Mr Lindsay highlighted the quality of UK engagement and leadership. He pointed to UK leadership in Operation Sophia, the EU Naval Mission in the Southern Central Mediterranean. In this case, the UK had been “quite instrumental in getting the EU to implement a CSDP operation very quickly in response to need”. Mr Lindsay reminded us that the operational headquarters of Operation Atalanta were in Northwood, Middlesex.327 Mr Wessberg agreed that UK commitment to the CSDP was “quite high.”328

253.The UK also acts outside the formal CSDP framework. The UK was part of the NATO coalition that acted in Libya in 2011 (Operation Odyssey Dawn) and is intervening militarily against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Mr Lindsay explained that the UK valued the “flexibility” offered by membership of the EU, which allowed the UK to “use those tools in pursuit of [UK] foreign policy priorities where they are most appropriate and to pursue other routes where they are not.”329

Analytical and assessment capabilities

254.Analytical capability is essential if the EU is to decide on and deliver its foreign and security policy objectives. Dr Federica Bicchi et al. told us: “If Europe is to be relevant in the future international context, it is because it has better ideas and better ideas necessarily rely on information and political analysis.”330

255.In order to build a tailor-made approach to the southern neighbourhood—what Professor Tripp called a “research base at the country by country level”331—or to understand the depth of some of the long-standing Russian resentments against Western policy, the EU will need a deep and profound understanding of those countries and regions. Such an understanding will be based on the politics, people and culture, and language skills will be a pre-requisite.

256.In the UK context, the FCO’s renewed emphasis on language skills,332 in conjunction with the work of the Defence Academy’s Centre for Languages and Culture, is very welcome. We believe it is also important that the UK remains engaged in EU diplomacy and present within the EU institutions. Dr Westcott reflected that relatively few FCO officials “have felt like volunteering to come into the EAS for a four-year period at the moment” though steps were being taken to encourage FCO officials to apply. He added that Britain was also under-represented in the Commission.333

257.Mr Wilkinson asked a broader question “if the EU is really going to engage in a more robust external affairs approach, does it have adequate assessment capability to understand what is going on around it and to configure and adjust the strategy as it goes along?” A more sustainable path would be for the EU to “dedicate resources to understanding better the world in which it is operating.”334 Mr Sainty said that the Government would “certainly accept and agree” that the EEAS should “focus heavily on the neighbourhood and develop the right assessment and analytical capacity to be able to do that.”335

258.Mr Mesdoua also highlighted the necessity of “co-ordination and intelligence sharing, along with the provision of data in real time”.336 He said that the political dialogue did exist at a “very high level” between individual Member States, but argued for a new framework to make sharing and co-ordination more “concrete and effective day to day.”337 Dr Federica Bicchi et al. cautioned that “intelligence sharing between 28 Member States is a huge task and confidentiality is constantly at risk.”338

259.Witnesses also pointed out that the quality of intelligence and political analysis varied between Member States. Smaller Member States tended to “rely on the EU for the provision of political analysis and intelligence (based on the elaboration mainly of open sources)”. Larger Member States, on the other hand (including and especially the UK), “have often been tempted not to engage in conversations that would entail sharing information.” Furthermore, the flow of information was “largely a one-way street” from the EU to the Member States.339

260.Professor Dr Stephan Keukeleire, Professor in European Foreign Policy, University of Leuven, told us that limited resources have had a deleterious impact on the diplomatic and intelligence capacities of both the EU and Member States. EU diplomatic capabilities were “seriously constrained” by “budgetary and other constraints which particularly the large Member States, including the UK, impose on the EU.”340

Conclusions and recommendations

261.Strong analytical capabilities at the EU and Member State level are essential for policy planning and the effective and robust defence of the EU’s interests in foreign and security policy.

262.We recognise that the intelligence and political analysis provided by individual Member States to the EU can be quite bland. Nevertheless, the new strategy should seek to strengthen the assessment and policy planning capabilities of the EEAS.

263.The discipline of compiling a common strategic assessment at the EU level would offer significant benefits to Member States in terms of strategic thinking and forward planning.


224 Pierre Vimont, ‘The Path to an upgraded EU Foreign Policy’, Carnegie Europe, June 2015 http://carnegieeurope.eu/2015/06/30/path-to-upgraded-eu-foreign-policy/ib7p [accessed 1 February 2016]

227 Q 73 (Pierre Vimont)

228 David Cameron, EU speech at Bloomberg, (23 January 2013), https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/eu-speech-at-bloomberg [accessed 1 February 2016]

231 Q 29 (Chris Sainty) and Q 70 (Pierre Vimont)

233 Q 70 (Pierre Vimont)

236 The Minsk Agreement (12 February 2015) set the terms of the ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine as well as the steps to be taken towards a political settlement between the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and the central government.

240 Q 139 (Prof Adam Fagan) and Q 177 (David Lidington MP)

247 Q 70 (Pierre Vimont)

248 Q 71 (Pierre Vimont)

249 Q 70 (Pierre Vimont)

250 Statement of the International Syria Support Group, Vienna, 14 November 2015; http://eeas.europa.eu/statements-eeas/2015/151114_03_en.htm [accessed 1 February 2016]

256 Written evidence from Prof Steven Blockmans (FSP0023)

257 Written evidence from Prof Steven Blockmans (FSP0023)

258 Written evidence from Prof Steven Blockmans (FSP0023). This would have undertaken through the Pre-Treaty of Lisbon, Article 23(1) TEU.

259 Written evidence from Prof Stephanie Hofmann and Mr Ueli Staeger (FSP0020)

261 European Commission, ‘EU annual budget life-cycle: figures’: http://ec.europa.eu/budget/annual/index_en.cfm?year=2015 [accessed 1 February 2016]

262 Q 101 (Dr Nicholas Westcott)

263 Written evidence from Dr Thomas Henökl (FSP0009)

265 Q 104 (Dr Nicholas Westcott)

267 Written evidence from Dr Neil Winn (FSP0001)

268 Q 27 (Chris Sainty)

269 Q 87 (Lawrence Meredith)

270 Written evidence from Johannes Hahn (FSP0024)

271 Written evidence from Dr Rosa Balfour (FSP0021)

272 Written evidence from Johannes Hahn (FSP0024)

275 Pierre Vimont, Carnegie Europe, Path to an Upgraded Foreign Policy (June 2015): http://carnegieendowment.org/files/Vimont_EU_Foreign_Policy_Posting.pdf [accessed 1 February 2016]

276 Q 34 (Chris Sainty)

285 Q 40 (Imad Mesdoua)

287 Q 27 (Chris Sainty)

291 Joint Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, SWD(2015) 500 final [accessed 1 February 2016]

292 European Commission, EU-Tunisia Deep and Comprehensive Free trade Agreement (DCFTA) (13 October 2015): http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1380 [accessed 1 February 2016]

293 European Commission, 1st Round of the EU-Tunisia DCFTA negotiations (Tunis, 19-22 October 2015): http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/october/tradoc_153918.pdf [accessed 1 February 2016]

296 European Commission, EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/april/tradoc_150981.pdf [accessed 3 February]

299 Q 43. Libya has been divided between two rival governments—in the east and west—each backed by a separate coalition of militias and former rebels. The government in Tobruk has been internationally recognised, while the Tripoli government, which is led by Islamists, has not. On 17 December, the two rival factions signed an UN-mediated agreement to form a Government of National Accord. On 19 January, the members of the new Government of National Accord was named.

300 Oral evidence taken on 9 July 2015 (Session 2015–16), 4 (Sir Dominic Asquith)

301 Q 29 (Richard Lindsay)

304 Oral evidence taken on 9 July 2015 (Session 2015–16), Q 4 (Sir Dominic Asquith)

305 Q 113. The 1996 Berlin Arrangements set out that the EU should be able to act military on its own absent the US. To that the “Berlin Agreement” permitted Western European Union (WEU) members to use NATO structures for that purpose. The Berlin Agreement was upgraded to the Berlin Plus which permitted the entire EU to use NATO structures for military crisis management operations.

307 Q 113 (General Sir Richard Shirreff)

311 The ‘participation problem’ refers to the dispute between Turkey (a member of NATO but not the EU) and Cyprus (a member of the EU but not NATO) which has prevented the organisations working together.

313 Q 165 (Dr Karl-Heinz Kamp)

315 Q 156 (Matthew Rojansky)

317 European Parliamentary Research Service, The cost of Non-Europe in Common Security and Defence Policy (December 2013 ): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2013/494466/IPOL-JOIN_ET(2013)494466_EN.pdf [accessed 1 February 2016]

318 Written evidence from Dr Federica Bicchi et al. (FSP0006)

319 Written evidence from Prof Anand Menon and Nick Witney (FSP0010)

320 The 1999 Helsinki Headline Goal created the Battlegroups—a standing force of 50,000–60,000 persons, deployed by Member States on a rotational basis, self-sustained, with the necessary command and control capabilities able to be deployed within 60 days. Battlegroups have been available since January 2007 and have never been deployed. European Council Conclusions, Helsinki 10-11 December 1999 available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/european-council/conclusions/pdf-1993–2003/helsinki-european-council--presidency-conclusions-10-11-december-1999/ [accessed 1 February 2016]

330 Written evidence from Dr Federica Bicchi et al. (FSP0006)

332 LSE Diplomacy Commission, Investing for Influence, http://www.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/publications/reports/pdf/LSE-IDEAS-InvestingforInfluence.pdf [accessed 1 February 2016]. The Commission welcomed the reopening of the FCO’s language school.

334 Q 3 (Henry Wilkinson)

338 Written evidence from Dr Federica Bicchi et al. (FSP0006)

339 Written evidence from Dr Federica Bicchi et al. (FSP0006)

340 Written evidence from Dr Stephan Keukeleire (FSP0018)




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