EU forsvarsministermøde 16. juni

EU Defense Ministers' meeting. Photo: European Union.

EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) forms an integral part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Through the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy, EU Member States can jointly launch civilian and military operations that contribute to crisis management, conflict prevention and peacekeeping missions outside the borders of the EU. The EU does not have its own military forces. It is up to the individual Member States to make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy.


In 2016, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security of the EU presented the EU Global Strategy (EUGS), which sets the framework for strengthened security and defence policy cooperation. Since then, a number of significant security and defence initiatives have been launched. Among the most significant are the European Defence Fund (EDF), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Peace Facility (EPF).


In March 2022, the EU Foreign and Defence Ministers adopted a new strategy for EU security and defence for the coming decade - the so-called ‘Strategic Compass’. The compass is divided into four core sections on crisis management, resilience, capabilities and partnerships. The most prominent elements of the Compass are the establishment of an EU rapid deployment capability of 5,000 people to respond quickly to crises, the creation of a hybrid toolbox and closer EU-NATO cooperation. In the process, Denmark has been particularly active in areas such as hybrid and cyber, maritime security, climate security and strengthened EU-NATO cooperation within the limitations of the defence opt-out that was in force during negotiations of the Compass.


Denmark and the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy

In a referendum on 1 June 2022, two-thirds of Danish voters supported Denmark joining the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy ending Denmark’s 30-year-long opt-out on EU’s defence cooperation.


As a result, Denmark joined the EU cooperation on security and defence on 1 July 2022, giving Denmark the opportunity to contribute to EU’s military missions and operations. Future decisions on potential Danish participation in EU’s military missions and operations will always require the involvement of the Danish Parliament ‘Folketinget’. In addition, Denmark is now able to apply for participation in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the area of security and defence policy, which specifically regard the development of defence capabilities, and the European Defence Agency (EDA), which aims, among other things, to promote EU cooperation on defence equipment.


A large part of the Union’s defence cooperation relates to broader policy areas, like research, industrial cooperation and the transport area where Denmark participates to a broad extent. Denmark also participates in cooperation on military mobility, internal security (Frontex) and cyber.


The Permanent Structured Defence Cooperation (PESCO)

PESCO was established in 2017. Since then, PESCO has been essential in the continued development of the EU defence dimension.


The PESCO cooperation particularly concerns the development of new defence capabilities through a number of projects that are divided into seven main areas: training facilities, air systems, land military systems, maritime security, cyber security, support capabilities and aerospace.


There are currently 60 PESCO projects, driven by demands of Member States and often implemented in collaboration with or by companies and research institutes.


The European Defence Agency (EDA)

The EDA was established as an intergovernmental agency under the Council in 2004. The purpose of the EDA is to support its Member States in improving their defence capabilities in the field of crisis management, to develop and promote EU cooperation on defence equipment, to strengthen technology and research in the field of defence and to create a competitive European defence equipment market. EU Member States can decide to be a member of the EDA on a voluntary basis. 


The EDA also has agreements with a number of countries outside the EU, including Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine. Within the framework of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration of 2016, the EDA also cooperates with NATO.


EU missions and operations

The Common Security and Defence Policy has been operational since 2003, when the EU took over command of NATO's military operation in FYROM (now Northern Macedonia) and the UN Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Since then, the EU has implemented and completed a total of 19 military and civilian crisis management operations.


Currently, the EU has 7 military and 11 civilian missions and operations. The specific tasks of the missions and operations vary, but generally, the engagements are relatively small with a limited number of deployed personnel. There is approximately 4,000 deployed to the active missions and operations, which are roughly evenly distributed between civilian and military engagements.


The EU has four active military training missions (EUTM) in Mali, Somalia, Mozambique and the Central African Republic respectively. The purpose of these missions is to train and advise military forces in areas such as human rights, international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. In addition, the EU has two military operations with a focus on maritime security located near the Horn of Africa (EUNAVFOR ATALANTA off Somalia) and in the Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR WITH IRINI off Libya). In addition, the EU's oldest and largest operation, EUFOR ALTHEA, has been present in Bosnia-Herzegovina since 2004. The aim of the operation is to train the armed forces and support the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina in maintaining the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.


The EU also deploys 11 civilian crisis management missions that promote stability and build resilience through strengthening rule of law in fragile environments. Civilian experts advise and train local partners in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, and the Middle East, namely: Ukraine, Georgia, Kosovo, Libya, the Palestinian Territories (Ramallah and Rafah), Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Somalia and Iraq.


EU-NATO cooperation

The EU and NATO have a lot in common. 21 EU Member States are also NATO allies. Regular meetings are held between the two organizations to discuss the development of the collaboration.


The work of the two organisations complements each other. NATO is a defensive alliance and is the Cornerstone of European security. The EU has to a greater extent the tools to deal with threats from, for example, irregular migration, cyber-attacks and hybrid threats against critical infrastructure and military activities in Europe's immediate area.


Since 1993, the EU cooperation has developed to now also include defence planning and capability development in the field of defence. This development has not changed the premise that the EU's defence policy must at all times be compatible with NATO.


On 10 July 2018, the EU and NATO signed a joint declaration. The declaration sets out a shared vision of how the EU and NATO will act together against common security threats.


Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has and will continue to be crucial to the strategic decisions and discussions that will take place not only in the EU but also in NATO. In March 2022, the EU adopted its Strategic Compass, while NATO in June 2022 updated its Strategic Concept from 2010. Together, these documents set the direction and content for the security policy in the coming years.

The EU defence opt-out

The Danish EU defence opt-out stem from 1993, like the other Danish EU opt-outs from the EU cooperation. The opt-outs are outlined in the Edinburgh Agreement and were agreed amongst the then 12 Member States, after the Danish population initially rejected the Maastricht Treaty in a referendum in 1992. As a consequence of the defence opt-out, Denmark did not participate in the ‘elaboration and the implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications’. Denmark joined the European cooperation on security and defence on 1 July 2022 after two-thirds of Danish voters in a referendum supported joining the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.

Last updated November 21, 2022 - 11:15