The EU - a crisis management actor in change


  • Eva Hagström Frisell

Publish date: 2011-04-15

Report number: FOI-R--3190--SE

Pages: 49

Written in: Swedish


  • EU
  • ESDP
  • CSDP
  • CFSP
  • crisis management
  • civilian operations
  • military operations
  • capability development
  • European External Action Service
  • Treaty of Lisbon
  • collective defence
  • NATO
  • WEU
  • ESDI
  • St. Malo
  • France
  • the UK
  • USA


The EU has gradually developed and widened its crisis management capability ever since France and the UK took the initiative to establish such a capability in St. Malo in December 1998. The development of an autonomous capability within the EU is, however, debated. Experts and practitioners continue to have different views on the EU's role in security and defence. This report finds that the EU has neither become the global power some were aiming for at St. Malo nor the competitor to NATO that others feared. Instead, it is argued that the EU and NATO play complementary roles. The EU's strength as a crisis management actor mainly rests in its political legitimacy and its broad set of instruments for crisis management, which include civilian and military operations, diplomacy, development aid, trade and enlargement policy. However, in order to be fully effective, EU crisis management operations have to become an integral part of EU foreign policy. Equally, Member State influence has to be assured in the new institutions created after the Lisbon Treaty, as does improved coordination between all the institutions involved in crisis management operations. It is also necessary to increase the will and improve the ability of the Member States to contribute with civilian and military resources for crisis management. Looking forward, though, it remains to be seen how recent initiatives for defence cooperation between smaller groups of Member States will affect the consensus within and the legitimacy of the EU developed so far.