The Common Security and Defense Policy: Purpose, History & Scope Video

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  • 0:01 CSDP Basics
  • 1:15 CSDP History
  • 2:30 Military & Civilian…
  • 4:17 CSDP Structures
  • 5:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will study the European Union's Common Security and Defense Policy. We will pay close attention to its definition, its history, and its operation.

CSDP Basic Training

Attention! All right, soldiers, listen up! I'm your new drill sergeant, and today you're going to get an important lesson in how the European Union deals with international security issues and threats. Do you know how that's done? No? Well, you're going to learn!

The Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) is the European Union's international crisis management tool. Using both civilian and military resources, the CSDP allows the EU to strengthen international security, support and assist fragile states in securing their governments, prevent conflicts throughout the world, assist in humanitarian efforts, and staff peacekeeping operations.

Under the CSDP, the EU has already taken part in thirty missions on three continents, including those in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Somalia, Mali, Niger, Palestine, Afghanistan, Congo, and Libya. Some of these are civilian-led, while others are military-based. We'll see how this works in a few minutes.

CSDP History

Okay, now that we have the basics in place, it's time for a little history lesson. Quit that groaning! A little history never hurt anyone!

The EU has been taking part in peacekeeping missions around the world since 1999, but by 2003, it was clear that the EU needed some kind of systematic policy to direct its efforts. That's when the CSDP got its start, with the goals of providing military forces in case of crisis, offering humanitarian aid, and taking part in peacekeeping and conflict prevention duties.

The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon broadened the CSDP's role and expanded its tasks. First off, the treaty gave the CSDP three new duties. The EU could now participate in disarmament operations, help countries achieve stability after conflicts, and provide military assistance and advice without being fully involved in a region or conflict.

The treaty also made some changes in the role the CSDP plays within the European Union. Member states are now bound to a mutual defense clause. If any member is attacked, the rest of the states must come to its assistance, unless a state is traditionally neutral or has a prior commitment with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Military and Civilian Cooperation

Now that you know some history, let's move on to see how the CSDP actually works. Pay attention! This is very important!

The CSDP takes a comprehensive approach to crisis management, using both military and civilian resources. When a crisis develops in some part of the world, several EU groups meet to discuss the events and decide what the EU can do to help, if anything.

Sometimes civilian efforts are sufficient. These might include:

  • Sending in a police force to assist, train, and advise local police
  • Working with local officials to strengthen the rule of law and support the court and prison systems
  • Providing experts to bolster a nation's civil administration
  • Dispatching a civilian security team

Some situations, however, require a bit more bite. That's when the EU sends in the armed forces. The EU does not have a standing military, so it calls on its member states to provide troops in a crisis. The Treaty of Lisbon created the 4-branch Euroforces, which are organized into over a dozen battle groups of 1,500 troops each. These battle groups are ready to deploy within fifteen days for missions of up to four months. Each battle group can stand alone in its action or can help prepare for a larger effort to come. Two battle groups always remain on call if the EU suddenly needs to send troops into a new crisis area.

The EU's military efforts are aided by the European Defense Agency, which helps member states improve their individual armed forces by setting objectives, managing advancement programs, coordinating networking, assisting in procuring equipment, organizing research efforts, and helping to strengthen military effectiveness and technology.

CSDP Structures

What's that? You're wondering how all this is organized behind the scenes? Well, I'll tell you! It is a very complex process that involves the cooperation and interaction of several permanent structures or organizations, who come together to provide the EU with a united front in the face of a crisis. Now, don't think that you have to memorize the names of all these organizations. I'll let you off the hook on that! Just get the feel for what they do and how much it takes to keep the CSDP running smoothly.

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