ESDP@10: What lessons for the future?

Council of the European Union (Link) - Javier Solana (July 28, 2009)

The European Security and Defence Policy has reached an important milestone in its development. This year marks its tenth anniversary. I am grateful to the Presidency, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs for organising this conference. I am delighted to be opening it with Carl.

Drawing the lessons from our experience of the last decade is a valuable exercise. It should include the range of key issues that we need to consider in taking ESDP forward into its second decade � policy, analysis of challenges, strategy, partnerships, structures and capabilities.

I will say a few words on these. But I would first like to reflect on how far we have come. Where I think we are now and where I think ESDP should go in the coming years.

The EU today plays a crucial role in bringing stability to different parts of the world. Over the past ten years ESDP has contributed to this through 22 missions in four continents. The EU has proved the credibility of its military capability on the ground in Africa, in Congo and Chad. And now is proving it everyday in the difficult waters off Somalia. A real international endeavour under EU lead. It has proved its unique civil-military capability in the Balkans; and demonstrated its relevance, and capacity for immediate action, when we deployed over 200 unarmed monitors to Georgia last year.

We have come a long way in developing ESDP as a tool enabling Europe to project itself through action in response to crises. ESDP is no longer an aspiration; it is a reality. The EU is a global actor with an important role in the management of global challenges. The world looks to us for this. The demands on us are increasing.

Development of ESDP�s crisis management capacity is crucial to contributing effectively to international peace and security. It is the missing link. EU foreign policy used to be about declarations. Now the EU puts people in large, visible numbers on the ground and takes risks for peace.

Lessons for the Future

I would like to highlight 6 lessons I think are key to the development of a strong ESDP for the future.

Lesson 1: The strength of ESDP derives from its consensual basis, which lends it moral and legal legitimacy. Missions undertaken in the framework of ESDP are not based on a single state�s interests. But on a collective concern for other peoples' problems.

Lesson 2: Nothing can be achieved without the means to do the job. The demands on us will not go away. Our ambitions are growing, not diminishing. However, there is a gap between our ambitions and the reality of our capabilities. This must be addressed. We have demonstrated with three recent missions - EUMM Georgia, EULEX Kosovo and EUNAVFOR Atalanta what we can achieve when the political will matches our ambitions.

In a world where we must be ready to engage in more complex and risky endeavours, it is essential that we have the personnel and capabilities � both civilian and military, and at the moment they are needed � to back up the political decisions.

Striving for greater European defence integration and cooperation is a part of this. Member States should continue to support the European Defence Agency (EDA) in its efforts to lead this process. In an uncertain world of fast-changing dynamics and threats, the more we do together the more
efficient we are. And the stronger and safer Europe will be.

Lesson 3: The comprehensive approach underpinning ESDP is its value added. The logic underpinning ESDP � its distinctive civil-military approach to crisis management � was ahead of its time when conceived. That logic has proved its validity and has been adopted by others. It provides a sound basis on which to approach the coming ten years.

Lesson 4: Our ESDP actions have to be firmly anchored in political strategies. The solution is always political. Civil wars, inter-state conflicts; problems with energy, climate change or nonproliferation: all require a political deal which takes account of the interests and power of all involved. Power is not just military or financial muscle, legitimacy is much more important.

Our Member States each have a different history and geography. We must improve our ability to channel the richness of this diversity in support of our political engagement in other parts of the world. The strengths of one Member State must become a source of strength for the others and for EU action.

Lesson 5: Partnerships become more and more important every day. We can do much more than 10 years ago. But we cannot do it alone. Building partnerships is complex and time consuming. But it is the way to foster ESDP through strategic cooperation with Canada, Norway, Russia, Turkey or
the US.

The same applies to partner organisations � the UN, NATO, the OSCE and the AU. The �either/or� EU-NATO debate is outdated. The EU is not a military alliance and the added value of the broader EU/ESDP approach to security has been demonstrated. The key issue now is to develop a more flexible framework for working together.

Lesson 6: Adaptability is a key strength. The world is constantly in flux and to cope with this we need better analysis, more means and more capabilities. We must therefore remain adaptable in terms of our engagement.

But we must also remain consistent in terms of the pursuit and application of our principles: liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law � these core values will remain as fundamental in 2020 as they are today.

What are the next steps?

First, our primary responsibility is to make Europe function well, including our crisis management structures. And then to enhance our collective ability to handle global crises. Our institutions, decision-making processes and command structures must be flexible. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty will give us new momentum in this direction and the potential to do more, and to act more cohesively and with greater flexibility.

Second, we need more capabilities for crisis management - mechanisms for rapid response, flexible and sufficient financing arrangements; and more sophisticated political analyses. All are within reach.

Third, EU foreign policy cannot function if it is only about Member States particular concerns. We need solidarity. Also in political terms. We should back a Member State if it has a particular problem or need. But this is a two-way street. Individual solidarity with the common endeavour is key for projecting force, for making ESDP works.

Fourth, the time is ripe now to have a more sophisticated interaction with our partners - both countries and organisations. The cooperation has to adapt to the particular theatre, not the other way round.

Fifth and finally: Yes, we should be bolder. ESDP is about risks. And we should be ready to take on more. The only way to mature in crisis management.

Thank you very much.