European Strategy, European Defence and the CSDP


14 October 2015


Royal Military Academy, Rue Hobbema 8, 1000 Brussels

Which responsibilities does Europe want to assume as a security provider outside its borders? Which military level of ambition does that political ambition entail? And what should the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) contribute to achieving it? These questions, if any, ought to be answered by the future EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy which the European Council mandated High Representative Federica Mogherini to draft.

A statement of ambition will justify defence expenditure to citizens and parliaments. It will also make it clear to Europe’s allies, partners and neighbours which contribution to security they can expect from Europe – and which not. And a clear statement of our ambition is the necessary basis for a new definition of Europe’s military requirements, taking into account the enormous changes in the security environment. This in turn is needed to frame national as well as multinational defence planning and capability development.

Seeking to reflect on the place of the CSDP in the future EU strategy, the seminar will first look beyond the CSDP, at the state of defence in Europe, for the CSDP cannot be seen in isolation of Europe’s overall political ambition as a security provider, regardless of the organization through which Europeans will act in a specific contingency. Political ambitions have to be translated into a military level of ambition covering all scenarios and organizations to which Europeans want to contribute, for they have but a single set of forces. Finally, the specific contribution of the CSDP to fulfilling these ambitions has to be determined.

The seminar is organized by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, the Royal Higher Institute for Defence, and the Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations, with the kind support of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU.


Food for Thought Paper


Participation by invitation only – The Chatham House Rule applies

Working language English



09.00–09.15 Welcome

Colonel (GS) Patrick Eecloo, Director, Centre for Security and Defence Studies, Royal Higher Institute for Defence

 Stephan Müller, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the Political and Security Committee

09.15–09.45 Introduction

Ambassador Alain Le Roy, Secretary-General, European External Action Service

Prof. Dr Sven Biscop, Egmont

09.45–11.15 Panel 1: The Political Level of Ambition

Europe’s “real” neighbourhood, where its vital interests are at stake, stretches out into the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf. Beyond the neighbourhood, preventing wars involving the great powers and preserving maritime security are vital global interests. At the same time, the United Nations also places demands on Europe to maintain its collective security system. There is also a growing connection between EU external and internal security activities. For instance, the EUNAVFOR operation links the military side of the CSDP to the Frontex mission, carried out by civilian security authorities. And of course Europeans have to defend their own territory against external aggression. Which responsibilities should Europe be able to assume as an autonomous security provider outside its borders, while maintaining its collective defence commitment?

Chair: Dr Margriet Drent, Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael

–         Prof. Dr Jolyon Howorth, University of Yale

–         Daniel Keohane, Research Director, FRIDE, Brussels

–         Prof. Dr Luis Simón, Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

11.15–11.45 Coffee

 11.45–13.15 Panel 2: The Military Level of Ambition

The need to deploy heavy forces on Europe’s eastern borders, in the context of conventional deterrence, while engaging in various operations in the broad southern neighbourhood, and preparing for likely additional deployments, including training and equipping partner countries’ forces, places a heavy burden on Europe’s armed forces. Are European forces sufficiently equipped to face this challenge? How dependent is Europe still on its allies and partners, and how dependable are those? Which capabilities should Europe be able to field alone, if necessary, in order to fulfil its political ambitions? In other words, what should be a new Headline Goal?

Chair: Col. Jean-Louis Nurenberg, Chairman, EUMCWG/HTF

–         Lt-Gen. Wolfgang Wosolsobe, Director-General, EU Military Staff

–         Dr Bastian Giegerich, Director of Defence and Military Analysis, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

–         Prof. Dr Alexander Mattelaer, Acting Academic Director, Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

13.15–15.00 Lunch

 15.00–16.30 Panel 3: The Implications for the CSDP

A strategy is to drive action: defence planning, capability development, increased multinational cooperation and integration, specifically through the CSDP. And in which contingencies is the CSDP the likely operational framework, including in the areas of internal security and defence against so-called hybrid threats? How can the integration of the CSDP in the broader range of EU instruments be deepened and civilian-military synergies further exploited? What does the military expect from a future strategy? Which role for the EDA in its implementation? In short, which mandate should the new strategy give to the CSDP?

Chair: Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Jo Coelmont, Egmont

–         Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary General, European External Action Service

–         Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive, European Defence Agency

–         Dr Jan Joel Andersson, Senior Research Fellow, EU Institute for Security Studies

 16.30–16.45 Conclusion

Dick Zandee, Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael


(Photo credit: Egmont Institute)