The European Security and Defence Policy : slow march to a military capability for the European Union
The European Union has declared that its ESDP has an initial operational capability. It has put new institutional structures in place to manage the political aspects of security and defence policy and the member states have pledged a range of military capabilities, which the EU may call upon to undertake a range of crisis management operations - the Petersberg tasks. However, there are a number of significant challenges that need to be overcome for the ESDP to become a fully operational and credible policy. These challenges are institutional, political, financial and military. However, the critical aspect, yet to be significantly enhanced, for a fully operational ESDP is actual military capability. Without investing in a number of critical military capabilities, ESDP risks falling short of the expectations set out at Cologne, Helsinki and beyond. The thesis moves beyond simply describing these shortfalls towards making an assessment of the progress made in the four years since ESDP was launched. This progress is measured at the national level, by examining the defence policies and military capabilities of a range of six EU states to assess their value to ESDP, and at the EU level by detailing the combined progress towards reaching a fully operational ESDP. Signs of convergence within these defence policies are required if a ‘common; EU policy is to be realised. There also needs to be development of a strategic concept, a requirement for an effective ESDP that is not yet acknowledged by the states. The influence of the US is also critical. While, the US supports improved military capabilities, it does so without acknowledging a parallel increase in decision-making and responsibility for the EU in international security. There needs to be clearer and more effective leadership in ESDP to overcome these challenges, particularly the military ones. If the EU does not make sacrifices and provide the resources required for ESDP, it will have created a policy without substance and its credibility as an international actor will be severely damaged.