A brief history of the militarisation of the EU, 12.11.2002 PDF Tulosta Sähköposti

Esko Seppänen 12.11.2002

The EEC was founded as a customs union. Member States had common customs tariffs on imports from third countries. When the EEC became the European Community (EC), it became even more emphatically an economic community. Gradually a common market was created where goods and services are not differentiated according to their place of production.

In the beginning of the 1990s a treaty was concluded in Maastricht in the Netherlands which turned the EC into the European Union (EU).

Under the Maastricht Treaty, common foreign and security policy (CFSP) became EU policy, but from the outset it was the preserve of the Member States under the co-called second pillar, i.e. it was not communauterised.

The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 put some meat on the bones in the form of the current Article 17 (previously J 7):

"The common foreign and security policy shall include all questions relating to the security of the Union, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, in accordance with the second sub-paragraph, which might lead to a common defence, should the European Council so decide. It shall in that case recommend to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements."

What does this mean?

It means that the EU’s foreign and security policy has acquired a defence policy, which is not the same as defence (which EU members of NATO regulate through NATO). It "might lead to a common defence", and if it does the EU will become a military alliance. But Member States would have to reach a unanimous decision on this at a summit of EU leaders in the European Council.

When flexibility is mentioned, it means that a military alliance is being inserted into the EU’s structures: the treaties and the lofty principles are elastic. In order for this flexibility to be legal, the concept of constructive abstention in decision-making has been entered into the treaties. This means that a dissenting country gives other countries permission to pursue their chosen course in the name of the EU. Enhanced cooperation has also been toyed with, which grants a large group of countries the right to form structures within the EU to promote their common interests, for example common weapon procurement projects.

According to the second sub-paragraph of Article 17, crisis management tasks include "humanitarian and rescue tasks, peace-keeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace making ".

What does this mean?

It means that the EU is acquiring the ability to implement the co-called Petersberg tasks, which were listed in the sub-paragraph mentioned. These include peace-keeping but also peace making, which is war. Since in this connection the word defence is mentioned, it opens the door to the possibility of attack.

Under the Amsterdam Treaty, the Council kept foreign and security policy firmly in its own hands (i.e. in the hands of the large Member States). Not one of the large countries, which like to speak on behalf of the whole of Europe, appears to be genuinely prepared to give up its own foreign policy. They want to co-ordinate the EU’s foreign policy among themselves, but without the smaller countries. To that end, it was decided in Amsterdam to establish the office of the high representative of EU foreign policy. Javier Solana, the secretary-general of NATO and former social democratic foreign minister of Spain (and a former peace activist), was appointed to the post. Indications that the Member States want to keep second-pillar activities out of the Commission’s power were reinforced when Solana was also appointed secretary general of the Council and secretary general of the soon-to-be defunct WEU.

It is the Member States and not the EU’s institutions which decide on the EU’s crisis management operations. In this respect the EU is not a federal state.

Matters developed rapidly at the Cologne summit.

The common foreign and security policy (CFSP) was replaced by the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). By replacing the word "foreign policy" with the word "defence policy" a new step was taken towards a stance of aggression, but still the flags of war were only waved for crisis management. EU leaders declared that "we intend to give the European Union the necessary means and capabilities to assume its responsibilities regarding a common European policy on security and defence".

"The Council should have the ability to take decisions on the full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks defined in the Treaty on European Union, the "Petersberg tasks". To this end, the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO."

It was said for the first time that the EU’s actions should be "in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter". This has since become a catch phrase in the documents of every summit, as has the refrain that the EU is not creating a Euroarmy.

In Cologne it was decided to start to "strengthen the industrial and technological defence base", which was the first tentative step towards an EU military complex. The desire was expressed that EU troops should use weapons and weapons systems made in the EU because the prevailing thinking is that a strong arms industry provides a solid foundation for military operations abroad.

Determination was expressed to "foster the restructuring of the European defence industries amongst those States involved". Historically speaking there has been no such willingness; instead countries have carefully kept their military secrets to themselves. This possibility is provided by Article 296 of the Treaty on European Union:

"No Member State shall be obliged to supply information the disclosure of which it considers contrary to the essential interests of its security.

Any Member State may take such measures as it considers necessary for the protection of the essential interests of its security which are connected with the production of or trade in arms, munitions and war material."

It was decided in Cologne to integrate the WEU into the EU’s structures. The EU absorbed from the WEU the security research institute in France and the Torrejo satellite centre in Spain.

Before it was run down, the WEU tested strategic crisis management systems and NATO resource deployment in EU-led operations in the CMX/CRISEX exercises from 17 to 23 February 2000. These were staff exercises where for the first time WEU (i.e. EU) and NATO command systems were co-ordinated. The manoeuvres were not conducted under the Partnership for Peace (PFP), but rather it was for a select group. Finland participated, but Russia, for example, did not.

At the same time NATO was holding its own staff exercises – pursuant to Article 5. EU Member States outside of NATO were not informed as to what the exercises were about.

The US is keeping a very close eye on what sort of military decisions are being made in the EU. The Cologne conclusions state that although crisis management is exclusively within the EU’s remit, it should not conflict with NATO operations. EU operations are fully compatible with those of NATO. The EU cannot function without NATO’s strategic and command structures.

The Helsinki summit of December 1999 marked the decisive launch of the militarisation of the EU in practice. It was decided to create military institutions in the EU structures and to equip common crisis management units: a Euroarmy.

EU leaders expressed their "determination to develop an autonomous capacity to take decisions and, where NATO as a whole is not engaged, to launch and conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crises ".

EU-led crisis management operations are carried out "with or without recourse to NATO assets and capabilities", but at the same time "avoid unnecessary duplication" (with NATO operations). Attention was also drawn to NATO’s Washington decision, according to which non-EU members of NATO and other interested countries may participate in EU crisis management. NATO member countries committed themselves to using NATO’s joint defence planning bodies to co-ordinate their actions, and non-NATO countries were encouraged to act according to the PARP process of the Partnership for Peace programme.

In Helsinki the Member States committed themselves to being able to assemble by 2003 a military force of 50,000-60,000 within 60 days and to maintain it for a minimum of a year. This force would be able to carry out all the Petersberg tasks, and this goal is known as the Helsinki Headline Goal (HHG).

Where did the figure of 50,000-60,000 come from?

EU Member States have around two million soldiers at arms. Of these, however, only one tenth are trained and equipped so that they can be used in international (crisis management) tasks. Of these 200,000 qualified troops, only around 50,000 can be deployed at short notice. Thus the number of Eurotroops available for crisis management tasks was dictated by the total number of troops available.

In reality the Euroarmy is a force of 200,000 troops.

Since the Helsinki headline goal (HHG) states that troops should be maintained in combat readiness for a year, back-up and replacement troops are needed for less rapid deployment. Since the assumption is that over a one-year period a brigade is in the field, on maintenance duty and on stand-by for four months at a time, the HHG requirement of a force of 50,000-60,000 troops in the field for a year actually entails an army of 200,000.

Apart from the EU’s crisis management tasks, Member States’ armies must also perform regional defence tasks to the extent that these have been agreed in NATO. NATO countries in the EU do this through NATO’s command structures, bypassing the EU’s crisis management.

At the Helsinki summit it was again denied that a Euroarmy was being created. The matter was not mentioned in the annexes to the Helsinki summit, but at the last minute Finland mentioned it – with the permission of the others – in the presidency conclusions.

The crack troops of the EU’s crisis management are not a Euroarmy in the sense that they mass in barracks in Member States and not in joint Eurobarracks. But in all other senses they are. Even Commission president Romano Prodi said out loud that "when I spoke of a Euroarmy, I wasn’t joking. If people don’t want to call it a Euroarmy, so be it. It could also be called Margaret or Mary-Anne or by any other name, but it is a common effort for peace-keeping duties."

In the Helsinki final document the Member States saw the restructuring of the European defence industry as "strengthening the European industrial and technological defence base".

In Helsinki it was decided to establish the following military institutions within the EU: 1) The Political and Security Committee, which deals with all ESDP-related issues. In EU-led crisis management this is a supranational body responsible for operational supervision and strategic control. In normal times, Member States are represented in it by their permanent representatives. What the role of EU high representative/Council secretary general/WEU secretary general Javier Solana is in this committee is not clear. Here EU defence policy is made by the Member States and has not been communauterised. To this extent the Commission is excluded from EU decision-making.

2) The Military Committee, which is comprised of army commanders and their representatives at the rank of general permanently located in Brussels. A Finnish general, Gustav Hägglund, was elected by eight votes to seven to be the chairman of this body (although after the vote 11 countries stated that they supported his election). Hägglund is a Council civil servant whose salary and armour-plated Mercedes are paid for by Finland. Within the EU, he represents the Member States, and not the EU.

3) The Military Staff, which provides its military skill to support implementation of the ESDP, including the management of EU-led military crisis management operations. It assists in earmarking and securing national and multinational forces for these purposes.

These new bodies were set up under the auspices of the Council, i.e. Member States’ ministers. Their officials are Council officials. Their work is not subject to parliamentary scrutiny and is not granted discharge by any national or supranational parliamentary institution.

Decisions by the Council to deploy crisis management troops are made unanimously (abstentions do not prevent decisions being taken). All Member States may participate in operations. They are not forced to do so, but the pressure to take part is overwhelming. Agreement was reached later on the distribution of costs. Following the model in NATO, every participating country pays the costs of its own participation and a share of the small overheads.

Since crisis management can also be an offensive operation, permission can be given either by the governments of the Member States, bypassing the EU institutions, or by the Council, as an EU institution.

The Helsinki final document states once again that "the Union will contribute to international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter". However, no agreement was reached on whether any attack on another country would require a mandate from the international community, i.e. the UN. The recent interpretation of the chairman of the Military Committee, Gustav Hägglund, is that it is not needed.

Our general does not set great store by NATO. In his experience all its decisions are made in the USA.

The EU’s crisis management troops are not restricted by geographical limitations. According to Hägglund only the scenario of any crisis would impose any limitations on its activities: larger numbers of heavily armed troops could be sent to incidents close by, whereas for more distant operations fewer troops would be sent and for less demanding tasks.

At Helsinki a non-military crisis management mechanism was also established to reinforce the deployment of civil resources, i.e. police forces.

It was decided to advance the Helsinki headline goals (HHG) at the foreign ministers’ General Affairs Councils, where defence ministers also take part. In this way the militarisation of the EU progressed in that defence ministers began to participate in EU activities, which they had not done before. They were given a central role in equipping the Euroarmy and ironing out any problems in the so-called Capabilities Commitment Conferences, where military forces, ships and aeroplanes are provided for the EU’s purposes.

"All these measures are being taken to support the common foreign and security policy and they reinforce and expand the Union’s wide-ranging external role." In order to be credible in the wider world a new superpower needs an external military role and a capacity to flex its muscles in foreign countries.

The documents of the Convention’s defence working party state that "the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) means that for the first time the European Union is able to deploy military forces to promote and defend its interests". In other words the idea of the Euroarmy is to defend the EU’s interests outside the EU’ borders.

The question of whether the continued far-reaching militarisation of the EU requires changes to the treaties was unresolved in Helsinki, and this task fell to Portugal, which held the EU presidency after Finland. After all, militarisation also needs a legal base.

Under Portugal’s leadership it was decided that even more demanding crisis management tasks (read: peace making) do not require changes to the EU’s treaties; the wording of the Amsterdam Treaty is sufficient. The treaties would have to be amended if power is transferred from the Council to military commanders, but that is not the case in EU crisis management.

According to press reports, the Lisbon summit discussed what purposes Eurotroops could be used for. They can be sent to conflicts centring on "disputes between ethnic or religious groups, competition for scarce resources between states and movements of peoples away from their home regions "

If this is what a Euroarmy can be used for, these are not defence forces. The official documents from Lisbon, however, make no mention of these intentions.

The final document from the Feira summit in Portugal restates the principle that the EU wants to contribute to international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. Once again this is merely empty wordplay since the EU is preparing to go on the offensive without a mandate from the UN.

The annexes to the Feira summit set out how the Council will act at the commencement and during the various stages of any operations.

It was noted that the EU and NATO are by nature different organisations. A desire was expressed for them to be equal partners and for the EU’s right to make its own decisions. In order to dispel US suspicions it was said that joint actions with NATO would be based on shared values, equality and partnership. NATO officers were asked to assess the implementation of the Helsinki goals. Four working groups were set up with NATO to discuss security issues, capabilities commitments, the possibility of the EU using NATO resources and consultation between the EU and NATO. EU applicant countries and non-EU members of NATO were also encouraged to participate in EU-led crisis management.

After Feira it appeared that so-called flexibility and the attendant enhanced cooperation would be extended to the area of defence. At the time flexibility was the buzzword in the militarisation of the EU.

After Portugal, the first so-called Capabilities Commitment Conference was held in Brussels during the French presidency on 21 November 2000. Words were being put into deeds.

EU countries earmarked military units for the Euroarmy, listed in a force catalogue. The troops were partly those that had been provided for NATO purposes once before. 100,000 personnel, 400 helicopter gunships and 100 ships were committed for EU purposes.

The troops were promised to the EU, but any deployment would be the subject of a separate national decision. So the promise of 100,000 soldiers is not a guarantee that 60,000 soldiers could be made ready for a particular operation within 60 days. Nonetheless, promises create pressures to keep those promises.

The meeting took note of some deficiencies. The EU countries committed themselves to developing strategic troop transport vehicles, command and monitoring centres and related information, communication and espionage systems. In order to improve the operational capability of troops in the field, search and rescue resources, protection from ground-to-ground missiles, precision weapons, logistics and various simulators will be needed.

In order to correct these deficiencies, more "European " military and armaments industries will be required. Key projects identified were wide-bodied transport aircraft (the Airbus A 400M), transport ships and troop transport helicopters (the NH 90). Certain Member States’ efforts to make use of optical and radar satellites (Helios II, SAR Lupe and Cosmos Skymed) were noted as a positive development.

The EU countries’ Capabilities Commitment Conference was followed by a meeting with ministers from the applicant and partnership countries where further promises of troops and armaments were received. If countries want to become members of the EU, they are well advised to show active participation in military projects.

At the Nice summit in December 2000 detailed documents were approved on military cooperation between EU countries and NATO, EU applicant countries and NATO Partnership for Peace countries. Detailed rules were also decided upon for the mode of operation of the EU’s own military bodies and for the organisation of civil crisis management.

The desire was expressed to rapidly attain operational capability for EU troops, the aim being to implement fully the Petersberg tasks (read: peace making) in terms of capabilities commitments, troop use and "permanent use" and compatibility aspects. Since the goal was "a global perspective on crisis management", the operating horizon is the entire globe.

It was said once again that a Euroarmy is not being set up. But since assurances are constantly being issued that this is not the case, then surely it is.

Obtaining NATO resources and troops in accordance with the so-called Berlin Plus goal requires each individual NATO country’s consent to work together with the EU. It also requires long-standing enemies Greece and Turkey to reach agreement. The first to strike a deal was Turkey, and then Greece, which was still clinging to its previous position in autumn 2002.

At Nice it was stated that the collective defence of the Member States is an issue for NATO but not the EU. The goal set at Feira of increased "flexibility" was not achieved, rather in foreign and security policy it applies only to the implementation of decisions, not decision-making itself. The EU will be allowed to develop into a military alliance only by the unanimous decision of the Member States (read: the large Member States). One could speak of flexibility if a group of countries were able to introduce defence issues (and NATO’s hard core) into the EU and other countries were able to remain outside the inner circle in defence matters.

The EU’s second Capabilities Commitment Conference in Brussels in November 2001 was in fact a quality-raising conference. Once again, the ministers of the applicant countries and the NATO countries met immediately after the conference.

Finland, a non-aligned country, increased the strength of the unit promised to the EU to 2000 men. Sweden held its level at 900 soldiers and Denmark has not yet provided Danish troops for the common army. After the conference the pool from which the EU may obtain troops (without it being able to decide itself on their availability) contained 120,000 soldiers.

At the conference the foreign and defence ministers repeated their call for the Helsinki goals to be fulfilled. It was noted that special efforts will be needed if the most demanding operations are to be implemented. Agreement was reached on a special European Capability Action Plan to rationalise Member States’ defence efforts and create compatibility between national and international projects. Strengthening of the armaments industry will progress from the bottom up: Member States will cooperate in armaments on a voluntary basis and pursuant to national decisions.

At the Laeken summit during the Belgian presidency in December 2001 it was decided that operational capability had been reached in "some operations" in crisis management. This conclusion was premature. The EU did not have the capability for operations in practice. NATO resources were not available – because of the quarrel between Greece and Turkey.

Again, the documents stated that a European army was not about to be created. It was stated that the capability of a body that is not a Euroarmy had been tested in a series of staff exercises.

The most important decision at Laeken was to start preparations for an EU constitution. The Convention was asked whether the scope of the Petersberg tasks should be extended. This has grown into a far broader question in the Convention: should the EU have a common defence and a common arms industry?

During its presidency in spring 2002 Spain convened 17 working groups to consider outstanding issues in 24 separate sub-areas of crisis management.

At the same time military exercises continued.

The EU’s first military staff exercise of its own, CME 02, was held on 22-28 May 2002 between Brussels and the capitals of the Member States. Once again it was an exercise. Outsiders were not informed as to the subject of the exercise: where the enemy came from or where the attack was directed.

The Sevilla summit of summer 2002 attempted to reach agreement between Greece and Turkey on making NATO resources available, but the Greeks dug in and no deal was made. This became a real issue in autumn 2002, when the EU was offered the opportunity to practice EU-led crisis management in the field for real for the first time. Amber Fox , a NATO-led peace-keeping exercise was coming to an end in Macedonia in late October, and the EU was offered the opportunity to take over the leadership before it is, in future, faced with more demanding offensive (peace making and enforcement) tasks.