Civilian Capabilities for the Civilian Compact

Hylke Dijkstra

15 October 2018


The EU Global Strategy has created significant momentum to improve the civilian capabilities for conflict prevention, crisis management and peacebuilding. This momentum has resulted in tangible achievements, particularly in civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Much more progress is needed, however, in light of ongoing discussions about a Civilian Compact.

To start with the positive: various measures have been taken at the EU level to improve the conduct of civilian CSDP. A budget line has been created for “emergency measures”. This concerns tens of millions of Euros per year and this budget can be used for responses to unforeseen crises, such as the Russian invasion in Ukraine in 2014. The EU has now also established a Warehouse 2.0. This provides many of the equipment requirements for new and existing missions.

After years of discussion, the EU now has a Mission Support Platform. While still understaffed, this platform creates helpful continuity for missions and allows the EU to accumulate and retain expertise. The Mission Support Platform is now supplemented by a Core Responsiveness Capacity which identifies key staff members that can be immediately deployed to set up new missions. Finally, we have moved from ad hoc ENTRi training to more institutionalised training via the European Security and Defence College.

Despite these achievements, it is clear that much more is needed. In fact, with a view to the Civilian Compact to be adopted in November/December 2018, we see developments in both the scope and ambition of civilian CSDP. The scope is being increased as part of an effort for civilian CSDP to contribute to the Integrated Approach. The ambition is being strengthened as part of an effort on the part of the EU to establish itself as a security actor.

Currently civilian CSDP has a relatively narrow scope, in that it is primarily about capacity building and security sector reform. The EU has recently, however, decided that additional priorities – including security issues relating from migration, hybrid, cyber, terrorism, organised crisis, border management and maritime challenges – should be added to the mandates of civilian CSDP missions.

The same can be said about ambition. While original civilian targets included 5,000 and subsequently 1,000 police personnel to be dedicated to rapid response, we are currently at 300+ police in total and only 1,100 civilian officials. In fact, the EU deploys considerably fewer civilian staff than the UN does, and may even fall behind the OSCE once more. The EU also has a high vacancy rate of about 30% of seconded staff. Nonetheless, the EU wants to focus more on rapid response and to reintroduce executive missions.

If the EU is serious about its Integrated Approach and the increased scope and ambition under the Civilian Compact, this has considerable ramifications in terms of capabilities. Which Member States will provide the required new specialised staff to address the additional priorities? For instance, which migration experts will be deployed on missions? How does the EU think it is going to recruit cyber security experts/teams to be deployed in partner countries (if the Member States are not even capable of recruiting them domestically)?

Also, specialised staff members are often contracted rather than seconded. Will the CFSP budget increase to pay for additional contracted staff? Furthermore, when will the first migration and cyber experts be seconded to the Brussels-based European External Action Service to provide mission guidance and support? What coordination mechanisms will be set up with the internal security agencies and the European Commission? How does this all relate to the Juncker proposal of an operational 10,000-strong border force?

The Civilian Compact presents an excellent opportunity to put more emphasis on civilian CSDP and to regain a commitment from the Member States. Yet it is important that the Civilian Compact provides clarity on the internal-external nexus and the exact future scope of civilian CSDP. It should also acknowledge the need for further civilian (staff) capabilities and provide Member States with tangible targets.


Image details

Title photo caption: European flag floating in the wind.

Title photo credit: EC Photo/Carlos Juan


About the Author

Hylke Dijkstra

Hylke Dijkstra is an Assistant Professor (with tenure) at the Department of Political Science.

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