The EU in Foreign Policy; a Military or Civilian Power?

“If you wish for peace, prepare for war” Vegetius warned us. An adage which has been adopted by militaries and statesmen the world over as a realist assumption that strength and force are tools used in assuring the survival of the nation state and its interests. The assumption is that the EU, as a collection of nation states, would similarly practice this thinking in line with other international bodies such as NATO. This view, coupled with the number of men, equipment and military spending within the EU countries, could lead to the assumption that the EU is a military power and acts as such in its foreign policy. Certainly the evidence is present to make this claim; spending alone places the EU second only to the USA with “$160 billion being spent, greater than the next five; China, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and India, put together.” (Bowker 2006 p.250) In addition, the EU makes up a vast part of NATO and has contributed more than 30,000 troops to ISAF (IISS 2010 p.452). Yet these assumptions overlook the actual workings of the EU, its position with the International system, the various problems the EU faces in coordinating military and civilian operations, and fundamentally the fractured nature of the military within the EU, which ultimately remains under the command of the individual member states.

This essay will therefore outline why these assumptions exist, why they are misinterpreted and why ultimately, they are flawed. I will also show how the EU operates as a civilian power and outline how there is a nexus between civilian and military power developing, that is different from the polarization of labelling the EU as either a military or civilian power. To achieve this, the evolution of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP formerly ESDP) must be taken into account. In addition, it is also important to consider the strategic culture and political theory which shapes the EU as an actor. Another important consideration is that when reviewing the EU as a either a military or civilian power, it contributes to an assessment of the EU as an actor in general, which means it is a combination of empirical evidence and untested theory and ideas. Therefore it is crucial not to fall into some of the pitfalls present in the literature, such as to quickly dismissing a new EU strategy or overlooking long term growth in certain CFSP areas.

Various scholars sit within different camps of ideas and opinions on the EU’s role, position and actions in foreign policy terms. There are those who sceptically argue against the EU as being ever able to wield military force, Kagan represents the view of US based critics and atlanticists in stating: “The EU is weak, lacking the culture or ability for military force” (2003, cited in Matlary 2009 p.84) McCormick differs in suggesting that Europeans have become tired with conflict and violence.  (McCormick 2007) More informative arguments  are seen with constructivists views that the EU is a civilian power which uses tool such as law and legal norms in line with the UN, these in time have grown to be ethically superior (Matlary 2009 p.84). Yet it is important to remember that establishing the EU as a military or civilian power is not a lesson in ethics, Sjursen warns of a introducing a “false dichotomy, associating normatively acceptable, or good power with civilian power and the opposite with military power” (2007, cited in Matlary 2009 p.84). To simplify to such an extent would be ignoring both historical evidence and the ideas championed by different schools of security, especially human security. It would be foolish to assume that military power is altogether negative.

There are few who out-rightly champion the EU as a military power without falling down the pitfalls of combining the militaries together, or linking all military spending; these are useful tools for showing the EU’s potential but must be taken as indicators not evidence, because there is no single European Army or centralised single command structure (D’Argenson 2009 p.150). Much more useful is the hints given by those involved with shaping foreign policy as to how the EU should be perceived. Former High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Javier Solana points out that the EU, containing 27 states with 450 million people, producing a quarter of the world’s GNP, is both a global actor and ready to share in the responsibility for global security” (Bowker 2006 p.233). Various documents, publications and commentaries are in constant supply from Institutes such as the Centre for European Reform and Institute for Security Studies, yet they are often considerations and suggestions to improve and build on foreign policy in response to its critics. RAND for example states that more publicity is required for the EU success (Chivvis 2010). Yet in any assessment of the EU’s foreign policy there are the views which doubt its ability altogether. Whilst various scholars point to failures of individual operations and policies, there is still the held view that the EU is merely an arena for a low level of cooperation as “the weight of authority on foreign policy remains at the national level” (Wallace 2007 p.11).

The debate of the EU’s role as an actor is directly linked to what kind of actor it is; civilian or military. Whilst there is no room to go through the whole argument here, several key themes of its basis will continue to emerge within the military, civilian power debate, namely sovereignty, legitimacy and power. Each idea represents issues across the EU’s policies from trade to justice, but in addition is key to interpreting  the EU’s role in foreign policy such as the legitimacy to take action or the power to command operations. Furthermore, it is also important to remember that the views of scholars are to an extent mirrored across Europe by national leaders, governments and public opinion. Whilst the debate of EU foreign policy takes place at an international level and is affected by national leadership it is important not to forget domestic issues within member states. Some are direct factors affecting foreign policy, such as national budget cuts across Europe, or demonstrations against military operations. Others can be more subtle, such as national strategic cultures or national views on international events. All these factors remind us that the EU is in its basic form made up from the will and actions of its members and that foreign policy, especially in a defence scenario, is one of the most perceived elements of sovereignty.

Most evidence for the debate on civilian versus military power can be found in the empirical form of actions and policies. Yet there is also theory which guides the shaping of the EU as a foreign policy actor. Firstly, the nature of security as a concept and how this affects foreign policy and secondly the strategic culture and role perceptions this creates. As Baldwin warns us “security is a contested concept” (1997 p.4) and any debate on its use has to be framed against the many differing views of the nature of security. Subsequently, any view of modern foreign policy becomes ultimately linked with this debate as security dominates the policy landscape. This can be simplified to try to understand what kind of security concept the EU can be seen to fit into; there are those who would argue that realist perspectives are still relevant and that the EU has little power in the face of the military power of sovereign nations. Whilst this backs up the argument that the EU is not a military power, it also dismisses civilian power in such an environment and is ultimately concerned with holding onto Westphalian ideas. Waltz would argue neorealism, in that the EU seeks to balance in terms of power with the post-Cold War remaining superpower; the USA (2000, cited in Kluth and Pilegaard 2011 p.50). This too can be dismissed both theoretically in terms of culture and objectives and empirically in terms of capabilities and resources. As McCormick points out, “the EU will never be a global actor along the cold war military style lines of the US or USSR” (2007 p.32). It is far better to consider the EU in terms of human security. Empirical evidence will become apparent in a later assessment of the EU’s operations. The theory is easy to see in terms of the evolution of policies which are in line with human securities ideas of “responsibility to protect, which ‘weds’ human rights to security including military security” (Matlary 2009 p.205).

Adopting the view of human security as a driving force of EU foreign policy automatically favours it in terms of a civilian power. In the European Security Strategy for example, key threats are identified which are very similar to the ones raised by the UN Development Programme of 1994. Furthermore it identifies civilian issues such as aids and poverty and directly links development issues; “Security is a precondition of development. Conflict not only destroys infrastructure, including social infrastructure; it also encourages criminality, deters investment and makes normal economic activity impossible.” (European Council 2003 p.2) This approach, coupled with the social constructivist approach that security might be better gained through community rather than in isolation (Smith 2005 p.38) can be seen as shaping the EU’s approach as a power. It must also be remembered that not all foreign policy necessarily fits into the security argument, yet both social constructivism and human security are more adoptable round other policies than the rigid approach of realism. Considering this theoretical background in association with the challenges of post-Cold War world “having fallen into the grey zone between peace and war” (Hyde-Price 2004, cited in Matlary 2009 p.21) and that none of threats identified in ESS “can be tackled by purely military means” (Vennesson 2007 p.24). A strategic culture of the EU begins to emerge, one that is not dominated by the military heavy dictums of a realist perspective.

The EU’s strategic culture is shaped by its own experience as an institution, Europe’s history as a continent and the individual cultures of the member states. In turn it helps shape role perceptions and helps shape an emerging grand strategy. European history is arguably the most dynamic and violent in the world, weaving this together “creates an identity different from any other in the world.” (Sakwa 2006 p.4) The collective experience of Europe has given rise to the belief in becoming weary with war, having had it dominate the political landscape for much of its history, the culmination of which was two devastating world wars and over four decades living in the shadow of the Cold War standoff. In addition, the strategic culture of member states is also ‘uploaded’ to the union, Germany’s culture of “never again” (Longhurst 2004, cited in Chappell 2009 p.421) and Britain and France’s wish to still have strong independent force projection all affects the EU’s own strategic culture. Ultimately it becomes limited by the different approaches taken from within its membership and whilst differences in the use of military power exist there is limited scope for the ability of the EU as a military power. These become linked with the arguments of legitimacy and sovereignty of the EU as a whole, as members are unwilling to give over foreign policy sovereignty to the EU, especially concerning the ultimate realist perspective of sovereignty; military force. Poland is an example of how national strategic culture hampers any attempt by the EU to be a military power; it is atlantacist due to its Cold War experience and trusts NATO with hard security as long as these areas aren’t encroached on “the poles will continue to support further development of security and defence policy at EU level” (Chappell 2010 p.244). Whilst this attitude does limit the military power of the EU it does not necessarily stop it from having a grand strategy

As Chappell points out, key to obtaining a strategy is role theory, namely that roles an actor thinks it and others should play in international relations, (Chappell 2010 p.227). As seen the EU is limited by the cultures of member states, let alone their individual views on specific operations or actions. Therefore this pushes the EU very much into an arena rather than an actor militarily, as it can only be representative of the strategic cultures within its membership and attempt to coordinate them along the lines of its aims. This being said, to guide coordination a strategy is required and this happens far more along the lines of civilian goals with military involvement rather than outright military strategies which have civilian conclusions seen in US led actions such as Iraq and Afghanistan. ESS shows that there is an effort at a grand strategy within the EU and goes against structural realist arguments the “EU is not a nation state and therefore cannot have a grand strategy” (Vennesson 2007 p.12). Many of the documents and evolutions of policy within the CFSP are clear signposts at the EU’s aims but also its failings and weaknesses in certain areas. It is in the EU’s effort at producing a grand strategy that we find the clear divisions of military and civilian efforts. As Vennesson points out analysing this is key to understanding the EU’s role as grand strategy is ‘an exercise in foreign policy preference formation and an attempt to manipulate constraints” (2007 p.14-15). Seen as the military/civilian power debate is based on an analysis of foreign policy preference, it is therefore important to assess what strategies the EU is following. However it is first prudent to establish why the military power assumption exists in an understanding of what ‘constraints the EU foreign policy has to manipulate.

The idea of the EU as a military power certainly does not come from the history of the EU, in fact d’Argenson points out that the” development of a European defence identity remained moribund between the failure of the European Defence Community (EDC) in 1954 and Saint Malo in 1998” (2009 p.144). The EU had developed in Europe which sought to safeguard against the horrors of the Second World War, but attempted unity through economic means not military, the European Coal and Steel community was a civilian response to the problems of a fractured Europe. Following this Foreign Policy received limited growth under the development of the European Economic Community due to “state scrutiny, the division of power and the lack of centralised control” (Smith 2006 p.292).The EU’s agenda was not only civilian but very much concerned with looking inward with “trade and commercial development at the core” (Smith 2006 p.296). It was only as time went by that it became difficult to maintain the distance between economic welfare and motives of national or European security (Smith 2006 p.296). Considering that EDC had failed and that the European Political Cooperation EPC had mixed success it is hard to identify from history what kind of foreign policy actor the EU would become at its formal creation in 1993. What was apparent was that events such as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait had prompted sanction responses from the EC, whilst other actors took the military response, hinting at the civilian nature of its foreign policy. Yet it is important to remember that approach of the EU today and CFSP was shaped by three major events over the course of a decade.

The growth in militarism within the EU, giving the false impression of military power can be directly linked to EU position in relation to the collapse of Yugoslavia, the end of the Cold War and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. All three shaped the EU’s foreign policy evolution by its direct role in the events and how the individual events affected the world stage. The collapse of Yugoslavia showed the EU’s military weakness. The conflicts “should of been the hour for Europe not America” (Edwards 1997 cited in Edwards 2005 p.47) The fact the EU ultimately had to rely on NATO intervention in both Bosnia and Kosovo, showed that the EU could not be seen as a military power, Kintis points out that it became obvious that the EU had no contingency plans, crisis management procedures, logistical set up, lacked the financial and human resources and that member states lacked the political will to deploy forces. (1997 p.164). McCormick goes as far to say it was “the NATO bombings of March 1999 that acted as a catalyst for change” (2007 p.53). If you couple this with the end of the Cold War, thus meaning the large conscript, tank and artillery heavy armies now existed for a war that would not happen and given freedom from a threat that had diminished. Furthermore, coupled with the terrorist attacks of 2001 which changed the International landscape and brought with it the new challenges of security and asymmetric warfare, it could be argued that this was the growth of the EU’s military power out of the civilian options that had failed it. Yet that assumption overlooks the nature of the changes that happened within the EU’s foreign policy.

It would be wrong to think the EU did not become more militaristic following the failures of the 1990s and the new threats brought forth in the post-Cold War world, but that does not mean it became a military power. The new military orientated areas of foreign policy had as much to do with civilian power as ever. Stavrides argues that “the military element was needed as a final act of a real civilian power, an international force for promotion of democratic principles.” (2001, cited in McCormick 2007 p.79) It is prudent then to consider what the change in foreign policy did to the EU’s military landscape and how this went hand in hand with civilian motives.  To asses this, four areas need analysing; the continued evolution of policy, the creation of military bodies within the EU, the force organisations within the EU and the operations undertaken. Whilst being able to show the civilian foreign policy side of these areas it also important to consider the criticism of the objectives as a whole which contribute to the dismissing of the idea of the EU as a military power.

As previously mentioned, the EU has developed strategy through its development of policy and model as an institution. The gradual institutionalism of the EU taking a lead in foreign policy has led to the setting of goals, the implementation of policies and the effort to ensure obligations are met. (Norheim-Martinsen 2007 p.8) This in turn means the projection of the EU’s power as an actor can be seen in its actions and policy formation. Under CFSP the EU has made its aims clearer and more ambitious, but continuing along its role as a normative power. The original identifying point for interpreting the EU’s power in foreign policy comes from the now almost defunct WEU in its formulation of the Petersberg Tasks in 1992. These identified situations in which it would be necessary to use military force, very much in terms of intervention, leaving territorial defence to NATO. In 2010 the Council of Ministers reaffirmed the civilian orientation of CFSP identifying crucial aims such as; “promoting international cooperation, develop and consolidate democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms” (2010 Council of Ministers, cited in Magone 2011 p.567). This builds on the already established ESS as well as ESDP initiatives such as “promoting the strengthening of civilian administration, police, the rule of law and civil protection” (Council of Feira 2000, cited in Magone 2011 p.571) as key aims for EU missions. This was further added to in 2004 with “supporting EU special representatives and monitoring” (Chivvis 2010 p. 6). Whilst the treaty of Lisbon stated the development of a common defence policy and does mention assistance to states facing aggression (European Union 2007) it  is apparent that whilst military force is indeed as a policy option, the formulation of EU foreign policy has identified its role much more in line with security and intervention than hard-line realist  power projection.

It is the way in which the EU is structured for foreign policy, which clearly identifies the military as a policy option, rather than as the defining element of CFSP. The Treaty of Lisbon reinforces the civilian and political apparatus in control of CFSP (European Union 2007) and this combined with the structure of the various bodies contributing to CFSP it is clear that the military elements are simple part of a wider civilian focused approach. It could of coursed be argued that the presence of military control within the CFSP’s structure is an example of the EU acting as a military power; this can easily be dismissed with assessing the way the military element functions. Firstly it is subservient to the civilian leadership of the High Representative, currently Baroness Ashton, foreign ministers of member states and political security committee. (Magone 2011 p.568) What military leadership there is within the structure has the Military Committee (EUMC) as its highest body; this is a collection of defence chiefs of member states and advises the EU on military affairs. Neither EUMC nor the Military staff (EUMS) can be directly compared to the European headquarters body of NATO, SHAPE, which is directly responsible for military operations and standing forces. States such as Britain have been opposed to any attempt to create an EU headquarters (d’Argenson 2009) and whilst, the military are incorporated into CFSP civilian structure, it keeps the foreign policy civilian orientated. Indeed the incorporation of military affairs into the CFSP structure has been criticised as being “bolted on rather than built in” (EUMS Officer 2006, cited in Norheim-Martisen 2007 p.28).

The incorporation of the military with into the CFSP structure highlights several more considerations. Firstly, the simple fact that military use is such a contested approach that CFSP weaknesses have been seen in “27 members acting through the council, proving to be a bottleneck” (Norheim-Martisen 2007 p.17). Secondly, military control is only seconded to the EU rather than given over and therefore the military structure of CFSP is geared to this lending of power and resources. Thirdly, the military structures within CFSP are also interlinked with the civilian elements of crisis management (CIVCOM) and civilian aspects of EU operations. The civilian military cell and CIVCOM represent the institutional approach the EU takes to foreign policy, not only does it fit along the lines of human security, but it as an institutional anchoring of the civilian issues even in military led operations. It is prudent to also mention the assumption of the EU as a military power and the shift towards militarisation can also be attributed to other bodies within the CFSP structure; the European Defence Agency (EDA) and Institute of Security Studies (EUISS). The EUISS acts as a think tank on CFSP issues, whereas the EDA tries to tackle one of the key issues which divides military power in Europe; procurement and defence capabilities.

Whilst the EDA has identified areas that the collaboration would improve the EU’s cooperation capabilities, the nationalist element is once again apparent. In 2007 it was identified that 78.8% of EU procurement was national with only 18.9 % cooperative. Similarly the national bias was evident in development with 83.3% and 13.3% spent on national and collaborative projects respectively. (EDA 2007, cited in Magone 2011 p.574). Whilst the EDA represents an effort to change the approach of EU members in defence spending and is backed up due to the economic crisis of recent years; it remains a civilian approach to military issues. Manners’ claims its approach is based on the lobbying of the arms industry (2006, cited in Magone 2011 p.566) whereas Valasek believes it does not go deep enough. In his opinion it is not only the need to pool resources that is required for European forces but also the expensive administration and back office operations. (Valasek 2011) Here a true example of why the EU is not a military power is identified: The pooled budgets which place the EU second in the world are irrelevant in the fact the EU’s combined budget is not centrally controlled or spent, rather is the sum total of the member states spending. Therefore the combined military in terms of size and money becomes irrelevant as it is split down into 27 separate entities of various size and capability. Though the Cold War style armies are changing into more dynamic forces, it is not the amount of divisions, hardware and role capabilities that prevents EU unity it is that each force has a different command, funding and control structure, with little cooperation other than at operational level. Therefore calls for “islands of cooperation” (Valasek 2011) or a “Schengen style club lead by Britain and France” (Grant 2010) are not changes that would drastically effect the EU’s power projection in foreign policy, more measures in financial planning.

These issues clearly keep the military power at national level, and cooperation in terms of long term force planning limited to close cooperation, such as with Britain and France. Another issue which clear shows that the EU’s military options are dominated by the political will of members is the numbers that are submitted to EU initiatives and operations. EU objectives were set out under the Helsinki headline goals, that as of 2010 the EU should be able to simultaneously be able to conduct “two major stabilisation operations of 10,000 troops for two years, two rapid response operations using Battlegroups, an evacuation operation of under ten days as well as 12 civilian missions, a civ/mil humanitarian mission and monitoring operations.” (IISS 2010 p.107) Not only is this ambitious but it is also untested, yet once again the civilian element is apparent as well as being seemingly more numerically sustainable than military operations. More figures add together to show available formations, yet under scrutiny they show a lack of overall commitment on behalf of the contributing nations. In a traditional sense Schmitt points that realistically the maximum sustainability in a ‘hot war’ “would be 40,000 with the bulk from UK and France” (2004 cited in Wood 2008 p.121). Though this can be misleading as a ‘hot war’ would presumably gain more support than debatable intervention actions, it is far more prudent to dismiss the EU’s military power on its efforts to create a combined force under the rapid reaction force and the Battlegroup concepts.

An anonymous critic of the Rapid Reaction Force, commented that it was “not necessarily rapid, not necessarily reactive and not necessarily a force” (European Voice 2002, cited in Menon 2004 p.226). The force of 60,000 troops available for deployment within 60 days has not been tested to its full capacity. However three interesting analyses can be made of this force. Firstly, would the EU actually be capable to field such a force in the allotted time, as it is made up of voluntary commitments which are bottom up. Secondly, the time scale can be considered unrealistic when compared with similar operations. For example, it took the UK “70 days to deploy 45,000 troops prior to the Iraq war” (Howarth 2005 p.190). Finally the availability of troops is weakened  when role capability is considered “of the 1.7 million EU troops available only 10% fully trained for peace keeping, only 50,000 of those would be suitable for a situation like Iraq and that falls to 20,000 when we consider rotation” (Venusburg 2004, cited in Howarth 2005 p.190). Therefore the largest projection of EU military force is weakened by its very attempt to be a military option; this is also before we consider the capabilities gap which exists in logistical airlift as highlighted in Operation Artemis in 2003 (Howorth 2005 p.194).

The smaller scale force in the Battlegroup concept could also be presumed as a display of military power by the EU, but it to falls into the support of civilian centred approaches in its use and fails to be an example of military power due to its size. Fundamentally the Battlegroup concept is undermined due to its size of 1500 men as “they have a limited scope and can only be used for a limited time; as such the use of Battlegroups was rejected in both Congo in 2006 and Chad in 2008” (Chappell 2009 p.424). National structured Battlegroups are empirical evidence of seconded force to the EU; they also become projections of their national interest. Chappell uses Germany and Poland as examples of cultures being represented through Battlegroups with “Germany advocating restricted use and Poland being more proactive” (2009 p.424). This then becomes another example where bottom up supplying of forces gives the EU little scope to act as a military power and is more facilitating cooperation. Furthermore the Battlegroups which are divided into several countries, such as the Nordic Battlegroup, mean that 1500 troops are divided between five countries; diluting the force even more and adding communication and cohesion problems to a numerically small force. Ultimately the Battlegroup is one of few permanent tools the EU has to act as a military power, yet it must be remembered that the size and sustainability of such a force limits it to small scale roles and that national interests affects its use altogether. Chappell links the Battlegroups’ role to the future of EU foreign policy as a whole; “the continued failure of member states to agree on precisely, when, where and how the EU uses force could not only spell the end of the Battlegroup but undermine the EU’s international reputation as a security provider” (2009 p.435).

It would be wrong to think the EU has failed to effectively use military force completely as operational history shows there have been EU deployments and success. Nevertheless these should be remembered in line with what the missions’ aims were and the institutional approach of the EU in its civilian orientated motives to engage in a situation. It is in the scrutiny of the EU-led operations which we see the true divide in terms of being either a military or civilian power. As of April 2011 the EU were engaged in 11 ongoing missions of which three are military. There is only 3090 military personal deployed of which over half are navy personal based off Somalia as part of EUNAVFOR  Overall there have only been seven military missions out of 23 EU led operations (EU External Action Service 2011). Considering the amount of global conflicts that have developed in the post Cold War world or the weight of numbers the European element of NATO has given to ISAF. It becomes apparent the EU is operating differently and certainly not playing the role of a global military power.

At the time of writing it is NATO not the EU leading in the authorisation of the no-fly zone in Libya, despite the proximity of the conflict to the EU and its human security issues of civilian casualties. But it is in this latest conflict we see were the EU’s true foreign policy power lies. As of April 1st, the EU authorised EUFOR Libya, and that if requested by the UN would help in humanitarian aid, specifically to; “contribute to the safe movement and evacuation of displaced persons and support, with specific capabilities, the humanitarian agencies in their activities”. (Council of the European Union 2011) It has also pledged €7.9 million to the operation. The ability to act along humanitarian, financial and ultimately civilian approaches is due to the civilian/military power divide which ultimately shapes the EU foreign policy. That divide is, as Matlary points out, “where the EU is a military arena ultimately requiring the decisions to be made by the member states, even if it is an ‘EU force’, as a civilian actor it has bodies and finances to act itself” (Matlary 2009 p.192). So while the EU can be dismissed as a military power by analysing the efforts and style it has taken in recent years, by adopting military means it has ultimately created a false image. It is also prudent to reinforce the civilian power of the EU’s foreign policy by identifying the bodies and approaches it takes which only slightly overlap or are separate altogether from its military element.

As already seen the operations under taken by the EU are mainly civilian orientated, these commitments can sometimes be overshadowed in a world where politics and the media are dominated by crisis reporting. Klaiber, in assessment of the EU in Afghanistan, states that the EU needs to more visible in its success and that the EU is “often absent from reports despite contributing civilians” (2007 p.10). Chivvis identifies a positive trend in EU civilian missions from their initial short falls in staffing and funding to becoming a good alternative to the UN, NATO or the USA (2010 p.46). This is not to say the EU would be in competition with those bodies, but the EU provides a different approach to the three already heavily engaged international actors. Furthermore the EU as a civilian power can fit in where other groups would cause political tension; such as monitoring in Georgia, where NATO could not be used due to its military implications. (Chivvis 2010 p.15) Chivvis uses EULEX in Kosovo to identify civilian strengths, as the first integrated mission it combined policing, rule of law and customs control within its deployment of 2858 civilian personnel (EULEX 2009, cited in Chivvis 2010 p.31). Whilst being an example of the CFSP instruments promoted by the council of Feira, it also represents two subtle hints of why the EU uses civilian missions. Firstly to protect its economic interests as there was a revenue loss of 80% through smuggling in the country (EULEX 2009, cited in Chivvis 2010 p.38), whilst secondly the proximity of an unstable country on the EU’s border threatens its internal security and thus operations such as EULEX represent the EU’s internal-external security nexus. Neither problem can be directly solved by military means and both problems represent issues at the heart of the EU’s concerns; internal security and economic stability.

The former issue was very present in response to the 9/11 attacks, a response which showed how various parts of the EU could be combined in support of its foreign policy, not only was it able to ensure significant amounts of money for Afghanistan; “€280 million in 2002 rising to €400 million in 2003” (Menon 2004 p.231) but its role in reconstruction and negotiations was championed by Boer  “the UN backed agreement on political transition would not have been possible in its final form without EU efforts in the CFSP context” (Boer 2002, cited in Menon 2004 p.231). The number of civilians available should also be mentioned in terms of combining efforts in foreign policy; though it has received criticism for its small numbers it is important to remember the difference in civilian personnel to military. Whilst military figures are required to be deployed in large numbers to be effective, civilian operations do not require judges or monitoring staff in the thousands. The 5761 police officers, 631 judges and 4445 intervention staff (Council of EU 2008, cited in Magone 2011) may seem small but it is an achievement considering that the professions are not as readily available for deployment in the same way as a standing army.

As previously mentioned, the structure of CFSP is weighted towards civilian power, especially in terms of its political structure and the bodies incorporated within it for civilian foreign policy options. In addition to the aforementioned CIVCOM, there is also the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) “which provides a headquarters for planning and control of civilian missions as well as a 24 hour watch keeping facility” (Chivvis 2010 p.7) and the Joint Situation Centre (SITCEN). All of which are now part of the European External Action Service (EAS), the EAS is a merger of the external elements of the Commission and Council and now is under the High Representative and important in crisis management and suggesting policy for the Foreign Affairs Council. Whilst the EAS is a long way from creating single European embassies it represents the start of creating united foreign policy from an EU body. (Donnelly). As is pointed out the EAS represents an amplification of national voices which is civilian orientated (Barysch et al. 2011). Furthermore, whilst it is not yet a full cohesive body, it is important to remember that in five years’ time “Ashton’s successor will inherit a set of external relationships, which are noticeably more coherent and coordinated than she inherited” (Donnelly 2010 p.22). This view highlights the important consideration that must be taken into account when assessing the EU’s power; the fact it is constantly under development.

Bull’s 1983 view that “the EU would only have power in foreign policy if it had an independent nuclear deterrent and military force lead by Britain and France” (cited in Wong 2005 p.142) would be considered archaic by some and still accurate by others. The problem with identifying the EU as either a civilian or military power is that it is compared to the USA and NATO, of which the EU is very different. The EU is not a military power nor will it be without a standing army or a centralised command structure. The clubbing together of forces does not do enough to establish it as a military power; especially as national cultures effect any use of force. Germany has been criticised for not committing in line with its wealth and the EU can be divided and subsequently weakened by countries like France who wish to exercise their force projection and colonial interests; or Britain who wishes to maintain a special relationship with the USA. Iraq divided European opinion proving that EU military power can only exist when it seems ethically right; thus equalling a very civilian use of a military option; such as humanitarian intervention.

For the EU to truly be a military power it would also have to face the same issues that any military actor does; namely legitimacy the ability to justify sending young men and women potentially to their deaths. Currently the idea of a soldier dying in an EU operation is linked to the nation that sent the force and it is their governments who tackle the questions. A change in this would be a major shift in not only the EU’s power but in European identity as a whole. The EU can be questioned over its role as a power, but in pursuing civilian foreign policy, whilst attempting to have a military capability as well could be considered a very modern approach to two timeless pillars of power. To characterise military or civilian is perhaps too clear cut when the world has new problems such as terrorism that cannot necessarily be solved militarily and humanitarian issues which require the use of force. The EU has more civilian options to bring forth and its basis has always been in civilian issues of trade, community and economics. Instead of civilian or military, perhaps it is better to consider that CFSP should remain fluid; with the EU promoting military cooperation and direct civilian action. The world has changed, “Clausewitz’s dictum of war as an instrument of policy has been replaced by war as a sign of policy failure” (Cooper 2002, cited in Vennesson 2007 p.22). Therefore the EU seeks civilian power as an expression of its wish to maintain security and peace in the international system. Vegetius’ idea therefore becomes irrelevant as the EU prepares for peace and uses its limited military to protect its peace security and foreign policy options.

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Written by: Andrew Cheetham
Written at: University of Leeds
Written for: Dr Neil Winn
Date written: January 2011


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