The Decision-Making Process behind launching an ESDP Crisis Management Operation

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Series Details April 2008
Publication Date April 2008
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Overall, the development of the European security and defence policy (ESDP) and the deployment of ESDP operations have been nothing less than impressive. At the time of writing the EU has, within a five-year period, initiated twenty-one ESDP operations, on three continents, of which about a dozen are presently ongoing. The rapid growth of this completely new field of activities for the EU has placed new demands on the whole system of ESDP decision-making. Contrary to most EU policy areas, decision-making concerning ESDP operations involves all member states at all times and with a right to veto the process at any time (with the partial exception of Denmark).

This examination of the European Union’s decision-making process for launching EU-led peace support operations captures and describes the dynamics of the process and investigates the working methods of ESDP decision-making. It reveals that the intergovernmental character of this process is more fluid and involves fewer formalised steps than one would imagine at a first glance. At times the processes preceding the launch of an ESDP operation can also be surprisingly quick, although at other times it displays bottlenecks for instance in the force generation process constraining efficiency and rapidity of decision-making. One of the biggest challenges facing the EU today relates to capacity – in terms of planning, funding and availability of civilian and military personnel and equipment for ESDP operations.

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