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Common Security and Defence Policy

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is the European Union's (EU) course of action in the fields of defence and crisis management, and a main component of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

European Defence Union
Coat of arms of the European Union Military Committee.svg Coat of arms of Europe.svg Coat of arms of the European Union Military Staff.svg
Arms of the Military Committee (left) and its chairman (middle), as well as the Military Staff (right)

Founded1999 (as the European Security and Defence Policy of the European Union)
Current form2009 (Treaty of Lisbon)
HeadquartersKortenberg building, Brussels, Belgium (Military Planning and Conduct Capability)
High RepresentativeFederica Mogherini
Director General EU Military StaffLt. Gen Esa Pulkkinen
Chairman EU Military CommitteeGeneral Claudio Graziano
Active personnel1,823,000 (2014)[2]
Budget$226.73 billion (2016)[2]
Percent of GDP1.42% (2014)[2]

The implementation of the CSDP involves the deployment of military or civilian missions to preserve peace, prevent conflict and strengthen international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. Military missions are carried out by EU forces established with contributions from the member states' armed forces. The CSDP also entails collective self-defence amongst member states[d] as well as a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in which 25 of the 28 national armed forces pursue structural integration.

The Union's High Representative (HR/VP), Federica Mogherini of Italy, is fully responsible for proposing and implementing CSDP decisions. Such decisions are adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), generally requiring unanimity. The CSDP structure, headed by the HR/VP, comprise relevant sections of the External Action Service (EEAS) — including the Military Staff (EUMS) with its operational headquarters (MPCC) — a number of FAC preparatory bodies — such as the Military Committee (EUMC) — as well as four agencies, including the Defence Agency (EDA). The CSDP structure is sometimes referred to as the European Defence Union (EDU), especially in relation to its prospective development as the EU's defence arm.[3][4][5][e]



Commands of the Western Union's service branches, situated in the Palace of Fontainebleau 1948–1951
Organisational chart of the European Defence Community, which was proposed by French prime minister René Pleven but failed to acquire ratification by the French parliament in 1954

The post-war period saw several short-lived or ill-fated initiatives for European defence integration intended to protect against potential Soviet or German aggression: The Western Union and the proposed European Defence Community were respectively cannibalised by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and rejected by the French Parliament. The largely dormant Western European Union (WEU) succeeded the Western Union's remainder in 1954.

In 1970 the European Political Cooperation (EPC) brought about the European Communities' (EC) initial foreign policy coordination. Opposition to the addition of security and defence matters to the EPC led to the reactivation of the WEU in 1984 by its member states, which were also EC member states.

European defence integration gained momentum soon after the end of the Cold War, partly as a result of the EC's failure to prevent the Yugoslav Wars. In 1992, the WEU was given new tasks, and the following year the Treaty of Maastricht founded the EU and replaced the EPC with the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar. In 1996 NATO agreed to let the WEU develop a so-called European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI).[6] The 1998 St. Malo declaration signalled that the traditionally hesitant United Kingdom was prepared to provide the EU with autonomous defence structures.[7] This facilitated the transformation of the ESDI into the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) in 1999, when it was transferred to the EU. In 2003 the EU deployed its first CSDP missions, and adopted the European Security Strategy identifying common threats and objectives. In 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon introduced the present name, CSDP, while establishing the EEAS, the mutual defence clause and enabling a subset of member states to pursue defence integration within PESCO. In 2011 the WEU, whose tasks had been transferred to the EU, was dissolved. In 2016 a new security strategy was introduced, which along with the Russian annexation of Crimea, the scheduled British withdrawal from the EU and the election of Trump as US President have given the CSDP a new impetus.


Since 2002, the European Union has intervened abroad thirty times in three different continents.

The first deployment of European troops under the ESDP, following the 1999 declaration of intent, was in March 2003 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM, today: North Macedonia). Operation Concordia used NATO assets and was considered a success and replaced by a smaller police mission, EUPOL Proxima, later that year. Since then, there have been other small police, justice and monitoring missions. As well as in the FYROM, the EU has maintained its deployment of peacekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of Operation Althea.[8]

Between May and September 2003 EU troops were deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during "Operation Artemis" under a mandate given by UN Security Council Resolution 1484 which aimed to prevent further atrocities and violence in the Ituri Conflict and put the DRC's peace process back on track. This laid out the "framework nation" system to be used in future deployments. The EU returned to the DRC during July–November 2006 with EUFOR RD Congo, which supported the UN mission there during the country's elections.

Geographically, EU missions outside the Balkans and the DRC have taken place in Georgia, Indonesia, Sudan, Palestine, and UkraineMoldova. There is also a judicial mission in Iraq (EUJUST Lex). On 28 January 2008, the EU deployed its largest and most multi-national mission to Africa, EUFOR Tchad/RCA.[9] The UN-mandated mission involves troops from 25 EU states (19 in the field) deployed in areas of eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic in order to improve security in those regions. EUFOR Tchad/RCA reached full operation capability in mid-September 2008, and handed over security duties to the UN (MINURCAT mission) in mid-March 2009.[10]

The EU launched its first maritime CSDP operation on 12 December 2008 (Operation Atalanta). The concept of the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) was created on the back of this operation, which is still successfully combatting piracy off the coast of Somalia almost a decade later. A second such intervention was launched in 2015 to tackle migration problems in the southern Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med), working under the name Operation SOPHIA.

Most of the CSDP missions deployed so far are mandated to support Security Sector Reforms (SSR) in host-states. One of the core principles of CSDP support to SSR is local ownership. The EU Council defines ownership as "the appropriation by the local authorities of the commonly agreed objectives and principles".[11] Despite EU's strong rhetorical attachment to the local ownership principle, research shows that CSDP missions continue to be an externally driven, top-down and supply-driven endeavour, resulting often in the low degree of local participation.[12]


The CSDP is a part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), based on articles 42–46 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)[13][14]. Article 42.2 of TEU states that the CSDP includes the 'progressive framing' of a common Union defence policy, and will lead to a common defence, when the European Council of national heads of state or government, acting unanimously, so decides.

Crisis management procedureEdit

Military operations may be launched after four planning phases, through which the Operation Commander (Op. Cdr.), Military Staff (EUMS), Military Committee (EUMC), Political and Security Committee (PSC) and Council have different roles:[15]

I: Political Framework for Crisis Approach (PFCA)
II: Crisis Management Concept (CMC)
III: Military Strategic Options (MCO, unless within CMC) and Initiating Military Directive (IMD)
IV: Concept of Operations (CONOPS), Operations Plan (OPLAN) and Rules of Engagement (ROE)

All civilian missions are directed by the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), a directorate of the External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels, Belgium.

Location of alternative OHQs for EU military operations (EU headquarters, NATO headquarters and national parent headquarters are shown with red, blue and yellow marks, respectively)

For each military mission, also referred to as operation, the Council nominates the operational headquarters (OHQ) that will run the operation at strategic level and direct the subordinate force headquarters (FHQ), which carries out the operation on the ground. There are three main options for OHQ:[16]

  1.   Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) of the EEAS' Military Staff (EUMS) in Brussels, Belgium, which may presently run only non-executive operations. By the end of 2020 the MPCC will also be capable of running executive operations of up to 2500 troops (i.e. the size of one battle group).[17]
  2.   Allied Command Operations (ACO) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). ACO's main headquarters is the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. This use of NATO assets by the EU, provided by the 'Berlin Plus agreement'[18], is subject to a "right of first refusal", i.e. NATO must first decline to intervene in a given crisis[19], and contingent on unanimous approval among NATO states, including those outside of the EU. For example, Turkish reservations about Operation Concordia using NATO assets delayed its deployment by more than five months.[20]
  3. National parent headquarters made available by member states:
  Centre for Planning and Conduct of Operations (CPCO) in Paris, France
  Armed Forces Operational Command (EinsFüKdoBw) in Potsdam, Germany
  Hellenic European Union Operational Headquarters (EL EU OHQ) in Larissa, Greece
  Italian Joint Force Headquarters[21] (ITA-JFHQ) in Centocelle, Rome, Italy
  Multinational Headquarters (MNHQ) at Northwood Headquarters in London, United Kingdom
  Naval Station Rota[22] (NAVSTA Rota) in Rota, Spain

An additional theoretical option for military operations is to activate a European Union Operations Centre (EU OPCEN), a non-standing, ad-hoc headquarters.[23] The OPCEN was active between 2012 and 2016, and its structures will be integrated into the MPCC in 2020.[24] Prior to the creation of the MPCC, the Local Mission Headquarters were be established in the country in which training missions (EUTM) took place.

The CSDP command structure involving the High Representative, the Military Staff and Military Committee as of 1 November 2017:[25] Colour key:
     High Representative (a Vice-President of the Commission)
       Military Committee (a Council body)
       Military Staff (a Directorate-General of the External Action Service)

High Representative
Military Committee
Working Group
Working Group/Headline Goal Task Force
Military Staff
Director General
Legal advisor
Deputy Director General
Horizontal Coordination
Assistant Chief of Staff for SynchronisationEU cell at SHAPE
EU Liaison at the UN in NYAssistant Chief of Staff for External Relations
NATO Permanent Liaison Team
Concepts & Capabilities
Communications & Information Systems
Military Planning and
Conduct Capability

Chief of Staff
Working Group
Current Operations

Bodies and leadershipEdit

Location of decentralised CSDP agencies in addition to the Brussels-based External Action Service (EEAS), Defence Agency (EDA) and Council

High RepresentativeEdit

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, commonly referred to as the High Representative (HR/VP), is the chief co-ordinator and representative of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including the CSDP. The position is currently held by Federica Mogherini.

Where foreign matters is agreed between EU member states, the High Representative can speak for the EU in that area, such as negotiating on behalf of the member states.

Beside representing the EU at international fora and co-ordinating the CFSP and the CSDP, the HR/VP is:

External Action ServiceEdit

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the diplomatic service and foreign and defence ministry of the EU. The EEAS is led by the HR/VP and seated in Brussels.

The EEAS does not propose or implement policy in its own name, but prepares acts to be adopted by the HR/VP, the European Commission or the Council.[26] The EEAS is also in charge of EU diplomatic missions (delegations)[27] and intelligence and crisis management structures.[28][29][30]

The following EEAS bodies take part in managing the CSDP:

Council preparatory bodiesEdit

General Graziano has served as Chairman of the Military Committee since 2018

The Council of the European Union has the following, Brussels-based preparatory bodies in the field of CSDP:


The following agencies relate to the CSDP:

  • The Defence Agency (EDA), based in Brussels, facilitates the improvement of national military capabilities and integration. In that capacity, it makes proposals, coordinates, stimulates collaboration, and runs projects.
  • The Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), based in Warsaw, Poland, leads the European coast guard that controls the borders of the Schengen Area.
  • The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), based in Paris, is an autonomous think tank that researches EU-relevant security issues. The research results are published in papers, books, reports, policy briefs, analyses and newsletters. In addition, the institute convenes seminars and conferences on relevant issues that bring together EU officials, national experts, decision-makers and NGO representatives from all Member States.
  • The Satellite Centre (SatCen), located in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, supports the decision-making by providing products and services resulting from the exploitation of relevant space assets and collateral data, including satellite and aerial imagery, and related services.

Permanent structured cooperationEdit

The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is the framework in which 25 of the 28 national armed forces pursue structural integration. Based on Article 42.6 and Protocol 10 of the Treaty on European Union, introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, PESCO was first initiated in 2017.[41] The initial integration within the PESCO format is a number of projects planned to launch in 2018.[42]

PESCO is similar to enhanced co-operation in other policy areas, in the sense that integration does not require that all EU member states participate.


The European Union Global Strategy (EUGS) is the updated doctrine of the EU to improve the effectiveness of the CSDP, including the defence and security of the members states, the protection of civilians, cooperation between the member states' armed forces, management of immigration, crises etc. Adopted on 28 June 2016[43], it replaces the European Security Strategy of 2003. The EUGS is complemented by a document titled "Implementation Plan on Security and Defense" (IPSD)[44].



National armed forces' personnel combined (2016)[45]

The CSDP is implemented using civilian and military contributions from member states' armed forces, which also are obliged to collective self-defence based on Treaty on European Union (TEU).

Six EU states host nuclear weapons: France and the United Kingdom each have their own nuclear programmes, while Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands host US nuclear weapons as part of NATO's nuclear sharing policy. Combined, the EU possesses 525 warheads, and hosts between 90 and 130 US warheads. Italy hosts 70-90 B61 nuclear bombs, while Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands 10-20 each one. [46] The EU has the third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, after the United States and Russia.

Expenditure and personnelEdit

The following table presents the military expenditures of the members of the European Union in euros (€). The combined military expenditure of the member states amounts to just over is €192.5 billion.[2] This represents 1.55% of European Union GDP and is second only to the €503 billion military expenditure of the United States. The US figure represents 4.66% of United States GDP.[47] European military expenditure includes spending on joint projects such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and joint procurement of equipment. The European Union's combined active military forces in 2011 totaled 1,551,038 personnel. According to the European Defence Agency, the European Union had an average of 53,744 land force personnel deployed around the world (or 3.5% of the total military personnel). In a major operation the EU could readily deploy up-to 425,824 land force personnel and sustain 110,814 of those during an enduring operation.[47] In comparison, the US had on average 177,700 troops deployed in 2011. This represents 12.5% of US military personnel.[47]

In a speech in 2012, Swedish General Håkan Syrén criticised the spending levels of European Union countries, saying that in the future those countries' military capability will decrease, creating "critical shortfalls".[48]

Guide to table:

  • All figure entries in the table below are provided by the European Defence Agency for the year 2012. Figures from other sources are not included.
  • The "operations & maintenance expenditure" category may in some circumstances also include finances on-top of the nations defence budget.
  • The categories "troops prepared for deployed operations" and "troops prepared for deployed and sustained operation" only include land force personnel.
Member state Expenditure (€ mn.) Per capita (€) % of GDP Operations & maintenance expenditure (€ mn.) Active military personnel Land troops prepared for deployed and sustained operations
  Austria[2] 2,453 291 0.82 507 27,110
  Belgium[2] 3,986 363 1.08 651 31,894 1,897
  Bulgaria[2] 545 73 1.42 111 28,767 900
  Croatia[2] 610 146 1.41 18,000
  Cyprus[2] 345 400 1.92 50 12,392
  Czech Republic[2] 1,820 173 1.17 501 22,129 1,350
  Denmark[2] 3,020 535 1.16 24,509
  Estonia[2] 340 254 2.00 101 3,190 188
  Finland[2] 2,654 493 1.40 705 8,844
  France[2] 39,105 597 1.93 7,613 218,200 29,444
  Germany[2] 32,490 397 1.23 191,721
  Greece[2] 3,272 290 1.69 738 109,070 2,552
  Hungary[2] 1,000 100 1.00 329 18,088 1,057
  Ireland[2] 881 196 0.55 89 9,450 850
  Italy[2] 20,600 338 1.32 2,087 184,318
  Latvia[2] 210 102 1.04 45 4,832 212
  Lithuania[2] 462 83 1.11 55 15,800 413
  Luxembourg[2] 201 386 0.47 21 1057 44
  Malta[2] 40 96 0.62 6 1,698 30
  Netherlands[2] 8,156 489 1.35 2,128 44,655 5,050
  Poland[2] 6,754 175 1.95 1,331 120,000 4,946
  Portugal[2] 2,669 251 1.56 253 35,254 2,254
  Romania[2] 1,713 80 1.26 189 68,340 2,953
  Slovakia[2] 763 140 1.10 168 13,501 722
  Slovenia[2] 478 233 1.32 81 7,107 454
  Spain[2] 10,059 218 0.95 1,742 124,561 7,850
  Sweden[2] 4,331 459 1.12 1,847 13,949 1,966
  UK[2] 43,696 691 2.30 17,052 205,810 19,000
  EU[2] 192,535 387 1.55 45,219 1,551,038 110,814

Naval forcesEdit

Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is one of the largest commissioned warships in the European Union.

The combined component strength of the naval forces of member states is some 564 commissioned warships. Of those in service, 5 are fleet carriers, the largest of which is the 70,600 tonne Queen Elizabeth-class. The EU also has 5 amphibious assault ships and 25 amphibious support ships in service. Of the EU's 60 submarines, 21 are nuclear-powered submarines (11 British and 10 French) while 39 are conventional attack submarines.

Operation Atalanta (formally European Union Naval Force Somalia) is the first ever (and still ongoing) naval operation of the European Union. It is part of a larger global action by the EU in the Horn of Africa to deal with the Somali crisis. As of January 2011 twenty-three EU nations participate in the operation.

France, Italy and United Kingdom have blue-water navies.[49]

Guide to table:

  • Ceremonial vessels, research vessels, supply vessels, training vessels, and icebreakers are not included.
  • The table only counts warships that are commissioned (or equivalent) and active.
  • Surface vessels displacing less than 200 tonnes are not included, regardless of other characteristics.
  • The "amphibious support ship" category includes amphibious transport docks and dock landing ships, and tank landing ships.
  • Frigates over 6,000 tonnes are classified as destroyers.
  • The "patrol vessel" category includes missile boats.
  • The "anti-mine ship" category includes mine countermeasures vessels, minesweepers and minehunters.
  • Generally, total tonnage of ships is more important than total number of ships, as it gives a better indication of capability.
Member state Fleet carrier Amphibious assault ship Amphibious support ship Destroyer Frigate Corvette Patrol vessel Anti‑mine ship Missile sub. Attack sub. Total Tonnage
  Austria 0 0
  Belgium[50] 2 2 5 9 10,009
  Bulgaria 1 4 3 1 10 18 15,160
  Croatia 5 2 7 2,869
  Cyprus 0 0
  Czech Republic 0 0
  Denmark[51] 5 4 9 18 51,235
  Estonia 3 3 2,000
  Finland 4 4 12 20 5,429
  France[52] 1 3 2 13 11 20 18 4 6 76 319,195
  Germany[53] 3 7 5 8 15 6 44 82,790
  Greece[54] 5 13 26 4 8 51 137,205
  Hungary 0 0
  Ireland[55] 8 8 11,219
  Italy[56] 2 3 4 14 5 11 10 8 57 303,411
  Latvia 5 5 3,025
  Lithuania[57] 4 4 8 5,678
  Luxembourg 0 0
  Malta[58] 15 15 400
  Netherlands[59] 2 4 2 4 6 4 22 116,308
  Poland[60] 5 2 1 3 19 3 28 19,724
  Portugal[61] 5 7 7 2 23 34,686
  Romania[62] 3 7 6 5 21 23,090
  Slovakia 0 0
  Slovenia[63] 1 1 2 435
  Spain[64] 1[f] (1)[f] 2 5[g] 6[h] 23 6 3 46 148,607
  Sweden[65] 6 11 5 22 14,256
  UK[66] 2 2 5 6 13 4 15 4 7 58 367,850
  EU 6 5 25 31 93 48 128 151 8 52 564 ~564 1,500,000 ~1,500,000

Land forcesEdit

The Leopard 2 main battle tank

Combined, the member states of the European Union maintain large numbers of various land-based military vehicles and weaponry.

Guide to table:

  • The table is not exhaustive and primarily includes vehicles and EU-NATO member countries under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE treaty). Unless otherwise specified.
  • The CFE treaty only includes vehicles stationed within Europe, vehicles overseas on operations are not counted.
  • The "main battle tank" category also includes tank destroyers (such as the Italian B1 Centauro) or any self-propelled armoured fighting vehicle, capable of heavy firepower. According to the CFE treaty.
  • The "armoured fighting vehicle" category includes any armoured vehicle primarily designed to transport infantry and equipped with an automatic cannon of at least 20 mm calibre. According to the CFE treaty.
  • The "artillery" category includes self-propelled or towed howitzers and mortars of 100 mm calibre and above. Other types of artillery are not included regardless of characteristics. According to the CFE treaty.
  • The "attack helicopter" category includes any rotary wing aircraft armed and equipped to engage targets or equipped to perform other military functions (such as the Apache or the Wildcat). According to the CFE treaty.
  • The "military logistics vehicle" category includes logistics trucks of 4-tonne, 8-tonne, 14-tonne or larger, purposely designed for military tasking. Not under CFE treaty.
Member state Main battle tank Armoured fighting vehicle Artillery Attack helicopter Military logistics vehicle
  Austria 54 364 73
  Belgium[67] 0 226 133 27
  Bulgaria[67] 362 681 1,035 12
  Croatia[68] 75 283 127 10
  Czech Republic[67] 123 501 182 24
  Denmark[67] 46 229 56 12
  Estonia[69] 74
  Finland 180 1,080 722 25
  France[67] 450 6,256 349 283 10,746
  Germany[67] 815 1,774 401 158
  Greece[67] 1,622 2,187 1,920 29
  Hungary[67] 30 400 12 8
  Ireland[70] 107 36
  Italy[67] 1,176 3,145 1,446 107 10,921
  Lithuania[71] 88 96
  Netherlands[67] 16 634 135 21
  Poland[72] 1,675 3,110 1,580 83
  Portugal[67] 220 425 377
  Romania[67] 857 1,272 1,273 23
  Slovakia[67] 30 327 68
  Slovenia 76 52 63
  Spain[67] 484 1,007 811 27
  UK[67] 427 5,278 658 190 12,344
  EU[67] 7,695 18,819 9,817 963

Air forcesEdit

The air forces of EU member states operate a wide range of military systems and hardware. This is primarily due to the independent requirements of each member state and also the national defence industries of some member states. However such programmes like the Eurofighter Typhoon and Eurocopter Tiger have seen many European nations design, build and operate a single weapons platform. 60% of overall combat fleet was developed and manufactured by member states, 32% are US-origin, but some of these were assembled in Europe, while remaining 8% are soviet-made aircraft. As of 2014, it is estimated that the European Union had around 2,000 serviceable combat aircraft (fighter aircraft and ground-attack aircraft).[73]

The EUs air-lift capabilities are evolving with the future introduction of the Airbus A400M (another example of EU defence cooperation). The A400M is a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities.[74] Around 140 are initially expected to be operated by 6 member states (UK, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium).

Guide to tables:

  • The tables are sourced from figures provided by Flight International for the year 2014.
  • Aircraft are grouped into three main types (indicated by colours): red for combat aircraft, green for aerial refueling aircraft, and grey for strategic and tactical transport aircraft.
  • The two "other" columns include additional aircraft according to their type sorted by colour (i.e. the "other" category in red includes combat aircraft, while the "other" category in grey includes both aerial refueling and transport aircraft). This was done because it was not feasible allocate every aircraft type its own column.
  • Other aircraft such as trainers, helicopters, UAVs and reconnaissance or surveillance aircraft are not included in the below tables or figures.
Fighter and ground-attack
Member state Typhoon Rafale Mirage 2000 Gripen F-16 F/A-18 F-35 Tornado MiG-29 Other Total
  Austria[73] 15 15
  Belgium[73] 59 59
  Bulgaria[73] 15 15
  Croatia[73] 12 MiG-21 12
  Czech Republic[73] 14 19 L-159 33
  Denmark[73] 60 60
  Finland[73] 62 62
  France[73] 137 152 289
  Germany[73] 117 116 233
  Greece[73] 43 154 34 F-4 231
  Hungary[73] 14 14
  Italy[73] 95 10 75 55 AMX, 17 Harrier II 252
  Lithuania[73] L-39 3
  Netherlands[73] 87 2 89
  Poland[73] 48 31 36 Su-22 115
  Portugal[73] 31 31
  Romania[73] 12 36 MiG-21 48
  Slovakia[73] 12 L-39 19
  Slovenia[73] Pilatus PC-9 9
  Spain[73] 45 86 17 Harrier II 148
  Sweden[73] 95 95
  UK[73] 153 1 25 43 222
  EU[73] 432 131 137 123 463 148 16 278 58 229 2,043
Aerial refueling and transport
Member state A330 MRTT A310 MRTT KC-135/707 C-17 C-130 C-160 C-27J CN-235/C-295 An-26 A400M Other Total
  Austria[73] 5 5
  Belgium[73] 11 1 A321 12
  Bulgaria[73] 2 2 1 A319 5
  Croatia[73] 4 2 An-32B 6
  Czech Republic[73] 4 6 2 A319 12
 Denmark[73] 4 4
  Finland[73] 2 1 F27 3
  France[73] 14 14 36 27 6 3 A310
3 A340
  Germany[73] 4 71 1 1 A310
2 A319
  Greece[73] 13 8 21
  Hungary[73] 4 4
  Ireland[73] 2 1 BNT-2 CC2/B 3
  Italy[73] 16 12 4 KC-767
3 KC-130J
3 A319
  Lithuania[73] 3 1 4
  Malta[73] 2 BNT-2 CC2/B
2 King Air 200
  Netherlands[73] 4 2 (K)DC-10 6
  Poland[73] 5 16 20
  Portugal[73] 6 7 13
  Romania[73] 2 7 2 11
  Slovakia[73] 2 2
  Slovenia[73] 1 Let L-410 Turbolet
2 Pilatus PC-6 Porter
1 Dassault Falcon 2000
  Spain[73] 2 7 21 5 KC-130H
2 A310
  Sweden[73] 7 1 KC-130H 8
  UK[73] 11 8 24 4 4 BAe 146
3 BNT-2 CC2/B
  EU[73] 11 4 16 8 107 107 30 81 16 11 48 435


Established at Union levelEdit

Irish Army personnel from the Nordic Battle Group at an exercise in 2010

The Helsinki Headline Goal Catalogue is a listing of rapid reaction forces composed of 60,000 troops managed by the European Union, but under control of the countries who deliver troops for it.

Forces introduced at Union level include:

  • The battle groups (BG) adhere to the CSDP, and are based on contributions from a coalition of member states. Each of the eighteen Battlegroups consists of a battalion-sized force (1,500 troops) reinforced with combat support elements.[75][76] The groups rotate actively, so that two are ready for deployment at all times. The forces are under the direct control of the Council of the European Union. The Battlegroups reached full operational capacity on 1 January 2007, although, as of January 2013 they are yet to see any military action.[77] They are based on existing ad hoc missions that the European Union (EU) has undertaken and has been described by some as a new "standing army" for Europe.[76] The troops and equipment are drawn from the EU member states under a "lead nation". In 2004, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the plans and emphasised the value and importance of the Battlegroups in helping the UN deal with troublespots.[78]
  • The Medical Command (EMC) is a planned medical command centre in support of EU missions, formed as part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).[79] The EMC will provide the EU with a permanent medical capability to support operations abroad, including medical resources and a rapidly deployable medical task force. The EMC will also provide medical evacuation facilities, triage and resuscitation, treatment and holding of patients until they can be returned to duty, and emergency dental treatment. It will also contribute to harmonising medical standards, certification and legal (civil) framework conditions.[42]
  • The Force Crisis Response Operation Core (EUFOR CROC) is a flagship defence project under development as part of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). EURFOR CROC will contribute to the creation of a "full spectrum force package" to speed up provision of military forces and the EU's crisis management capabilities.[80] Rather than creating a standing force, the project involves creating a concrete catalogue of military force elements that would speed up the establishment of a force when the EU decides to launch an operation. It is land-focused and aims to generate a force of 60,000 troops from the contributing states alone. While it does not establish any form of "European army", it foresees an deployable, interoperable force under a single command.[81] Germany is the lead country for the project, but the French are heavily involved and it is tied to President Emmanuel Macron's proposal to create a standing intervention force. The French see it as an example of what PESCO is about.[82]

Provided through Article 42.3 TEUEdit

Personnel of the European Corps in Strasbourg, France, during a change of command ceremony in 2013

This section presents an incomplete list of forces and bodies established intergovernmentally amongst a subset of member states. These organisations will deploy forces based on the collective agreement of their member states. They are typically technically listed as being able to be deployed under the auspices of NATO, the United Nations, the European Union (EU) through Article 42.3 of TEU, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or any other international entity.

However, with the exception of the Eurocorps, very few have actually been deployed for any real military operation, and none under the CSDP at any point in its history.

Land Forces:

A Royal Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas at RAF Brize Norton. The aircraft will replace the RAF's existing fleet of C-130 Hercules as the A400M represents major advances, capable of flying almost twice as fast, twice as far and carrying almost twice as much cargo.


  • The European Air Transport Command exercises operational control of the majority of the aerial refueling capabilities and military transport fleets of its participating nations. Located at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands, the command also bears a limited responsibility for exercises, aircrew training and the harmonisation of relevant national air transport regulations.[84][85] The command was established in 2010 to provide a more efficient management of the participating nations' assets and resources in this field.



EU-developed infrastructure for military use includes:

Defence fundEdit

The European Defence Fund is an EU-managed fund for coordinating and increasing national investment in defence research and improve interoperability between national forces. It was proposed in 2016 by President Jean-Claude Juncker and established in 2017 to a value of €5.5 billion per year. The fund has two stands; research (€90 million until the end of 2019 and €500 million per year after 2020) and development & acquisition (€500 million in total for 2019–20 then €1 billion per year after 2020).[89]

Together with the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence and Permanent Structured Cooperation it forms a new comprehensive defence package for the EU.[90]

Participation, relationship with NATOEdit

Out of the 28 EU member states, 22 are also members of NATO. Another three NATO members are EU applicants—Albania, Montenegro and Turkey. Two others—Iceland and Norway—have opted to remain outside of the EU, however participate in the EU's single market. The memberships of the EU and NATO are distinct, and some EU member states are traditionally neutral on defence issues. Several EU member states were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact. Denmark has an opt-out from the CSDP.[2]

  Non-European countries
Membership of the principal European and Western defence arrangements
European Union
Common Security and Defence Policy
European Defence Agency
Permanent Structured Cooperation
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation
  Albania No No No No Yes No
  Austria Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
  Belgium Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
  Bulgaria Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Canada No No No No Yes No
  Cyprus Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
  Croatia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Czech Republic Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Denmark Yes No No No Yes No
  Estonia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Finland Yes Yes Yes Yes No Partial
  France Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
  Germany Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
  Greece Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Hungary Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Iceland No No No No Yes No
  Ireland Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
  Italy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
  Latvia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Lithuania Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Partial
  Luxembourg Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Partial
  Malta Yes Yes Yes No No No
  Montenegro No No No No Yes No
  Netherlands Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Partial
  Norway No Partial (non-voting) Partial (non-voting) No Yes No
  Poland Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Partial
  Portugal Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Romania Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Serbia No No Partial (non-voting) No No No
  Slovakia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Slovenia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
  Spain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
  Sweden Yes Yes Yes Yes No Partial
  Switzerland No No Partial (non-voting) No No No
  Turkey No No No No Yes Partial
  Ukraine No No Partial (non-voting) No No No
  United Kingdom Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
  United States No No No No Yes No

The Berlin Plus agreement is the short title of a comprehensive package of agreements made between NATO and the EU on 16 December 2002.[91] These agreements were based on conclusions of NATO's 1999 Washington summit, sometimes referred to as the CJTF mechanism,[92] and allowed the EU to draw on some of NATO's military assets in its own peacekeeping operations.

Chart presented in 2012 by then Director General of the Military Staff Lt. gen. Ton van Osch, indicating that the utility of the combined civilian and military components of the EU policy could be considered more effective than NATO for a limited level of conflict.

See alsoEdit

Other defence-related EU initiatives:

Other Pan-European defence organisations (intergovernmental):

Regional, integorvernmental defence organisations in Europe:

Atlanticist intergovernmental defence organisations:


  1. ^ The United Kingdom does not participate in the Permanent Structured Cooperation.
  2. ^ The Edinburgh Agreement of 1992 included a guarantee to Denmark that they would not be obliged to join the Western European Union, which was responsible for defence. Additionally, the agreement stipulated that Denmark would not take part in discussions or be bound by decisions of the EU with defence implications. The Treaty of Amsterdam of 1997 included a protocol which formalised this opt-out from the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). As a consequence, Denmark is excluded from foreign policy discussions with defence implications and does not participate in foreign missions with a defence component.[1] Denmark does not participate in the Permanent Structured Cooperation. See Opt-outs_in_the_European_Union#Defence_–_Denmark.
  3. ^ Malta does not participate in the Permanent Structured Cooperation.
  4. ^ The responsibility of collective selv-defence within the CSDP is based on Article 42.7 of TEU, which states that this responsibility does not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states, referring to policies of nautrality. See Neutral country§European Union for discussion on this subject.According to the Article 42.7 "If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States." Article 42.2 furthermore specifies that NATO shall be the main forum for the implementation of collective self-defence for EU member states that are also NATO members.
  5. ^ Akin to the EU’s banking union, economic and monetary union and customs union.
  6. ^ a b Spain withdrew last classic aircraft carrier Príncipe de Asturias in 2013 (currently in reserve). New universal ship of Juan Carlos I has the function of fleet carrier and amphibious assault ship.
  7. ^ F-100 class
  8. ^ Santa María class


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit