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External Relations - Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), renamed from “European Security and Defence Policy”, pursuant to the Lisbon Treaty, is the operational branch of the CFSP. Within the framework of the CSDP, the EU makes decisions on the deployment of crisis management missions, making use of military and civilian resources, in order to contribute to the implementation of the wider goals of the CFSP.

Brief history and state of play of the CSDP

By the end of the ‘90s, the Western European Union (WEU) was the only framework for cooperation between European countries in the field of defence and security. The WEU gradually evolved into the defence branch of the European Union, at a later stage, however, its activities were fully absorbed by the EU.

The Treaty of Maastricht (1992) and the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) were the first steps towards developing a European defence policy, ultimately aimed at setting up a system of common defence policy that could, on specific conditions, lead to common defence. The Treaty of Amsterdam specified, for the first time, the security and defence missions the EU could undertake with reference to the so-called “Petersberg tasks”, including humanitarian and rescue operations, peacekeeping and peacemaking operations, as well as the use of combat forces in crisis management operations.

A decisive push was given to the development of a European security and defence policy in 1998, at the Franco-british Summit of Saint Malo (4.12.98), which saw the agreement between the two countries on the potential for autonomous action in these areas by the EU, backed up by credible military forces.

The Treaty of Lisbon (signed 13.12.2007, entered into force 1.12.2009) introduced innovative provisions expanding and strengthening the capacity of the member states to cooperate in the defence sector. Within this framework, the Treaty provides, notably, for the possibility to set up a “permanent structured cooperation”; i.e., a form of reinforced cooperation between EU Member States that fulfill certain conditions in the field of military capabilities and operations. Furthermore, it provides for the deployment of joint missions by a group of member states, broadens the scope of crisis-management missions and consolidates the role of the European Defence Agency (EDA).

The European Council (EC) of December 2013 discussed security and defence matters, for the first time after 2008. The discussion was based on the following three thematic clusters: a) increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP, b) enhancing the development of capabilities and c) strengthening Europe's defence industry. The implementation of the Council Conclusions is an ongoing process, and it has been evaluated by the June 2015 European Council (, following the discussion held during the May 2015 Foreign Affairs Council ( It is worth noting that security and defence matters will remain on the agenda of the European Council.

Greece’s contribution to the Common Security and Defence Policy

Contribution of the Hellenic Presidency of the Council to the development of the CSDP:

During the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2003, the European Security Strategy (ESS) was drafted. This document listed the threats and challenges the EU was facing at the time, as well as its long-term goals in the field of CFSP. The ESS has ever since constituted a framework of reference for both the ESDP, and its successor, the CSDP. Taking into account the recent changes in the global and European security environment, the Strategy is currently under consideration within the EU. The forthcoming June 2015 European Council is expected to provide political guidance in this respect.

Beyond the ESS, important developments concerning many aspects of the (then) European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) took place during the Greek Presidency of the Council, in 2003: deployment of the first civilian ESDP Mission EUPM in Bosnia and Herzegovina, deployment of the first military ESDP operation CONCORDIA in FYROM, finalization of the EU-NATO relations framework, launching of the first training programs on ESDP, and major steps towards the establishment of an agency in the field of defence cooperation and military equipment (the European Defence Agency - see above).

During the recent Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the EU (1st semester of 2014), our country organized several activities in the field of the CSDP, such as Informal Meetings, seminars and workshops with an emphasis on issues of maritime security and surveillance, enhancement of military capabilities, cyber-security and sustainability of the defence sector. It is noted that, following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Presidency duties regarding CFSP/CSDP matters are fulfilled by the High Representative and, thus the role of the rotating Presidency is limited to supporting activities.

Greek Positions and contribution regarding the CSDP capability development

Greece supports a comprehensive approach to confronting crises, based on which, the two branches of the CFSP (military and civilian) should be developed in a parallel and balanced manner, using the whole range of tools at the EU’s disposal.

Greece’s contribution to the development of European military and civilian capabilities for crisis management is substantial, and our country is among the main supporters of CSDP. This contribution on our part does not, of course, limit our defensive capabilities, but in fact contributes to strengthening them.

With regard to the enhancement of the Union’s military capabilities, our country has made available its Headquarters in Larissa for the conduct of autonomous EU military operations. Moreover, the Larissa HQ is one out five candidate European Operational Headquarters (OHQs), which may be activated in support of CSDP Operations/Missions, whenever needed be.

Furthermore, Greece is leading, as the Framework Nation, an EU Battlegroup (HELBROC Battlegroup), ready for rapid deployment, with the participation of Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine.

Greece contributes, also, to the operational aspects of the CSDP in the maritime sector; the Multinational Sea Lift Coordination Center of Piraeus is at the disposal of the EU and its member states, following the conclusion of the necessary agreements.

EU missions and operations in the field of the Common Security and Defence Policy and the contribution of Greece

Since 2003, when the EU decided to launch its first civilian crisis management mission (EUPM in Bosnia and Herzegovina), the Union’s activity in the field of military and civilian operations has been constantly growing. Most of the CSDP missions are civilian advisory missions, focusing on issues of Rule of Law enforcement and capacity building. Since 2003, a total of 32 missions (military and civilian) have been deployed in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Out of the 16 ongoing CSDP operations/missions (, Greece is currently participating in 8 (EUFOR Althea, EULEX Kosovo, EUMM Georgia, EUPOL Afghanistan, EUCAP Nestor, EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, EUAM Ukraine, EUTM Mali).

Last Updated Thursday, 04 May 2017


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