Hungary’s participation in EU Security and Defence Policy
Since its formation, European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) has become one of the most dynamically developing areas of European integration. In the first four years of Hungary’s European Union membership, we have actively participated in activities implemented within the EU’s ESDP framework and have played an active role in EU-led civil and military crisis management operations; we wish to do so in future, too. It is in our interest that the ESDP—which is by now a global security policy actor—should strengthen.
The ESDP’s operational undertaking has continually strengthened ever since the Union’s first crisis-management mission in January 2003; a clear need is shown for this on the part of our international partners. Under the ESDP umbrella, various civil and military crisis-management missions have been launched in the past few years, which, on several continents, have contributed—or are contributing—important and significant value-added peace-creation, peace-building and peace-supporting operations within NATO, UN and other regional and sub-regional frameworks.
From the point of view of the ESDP’s future development, a factor of key importance is the shaping of EU-NATO co-operation, since the transatlantic area has common security challenges. We consider that one of the preconditions of effective action is closer and more substantive political co-operation between the EU and NATO. In several relevant forums we actively strive to ensure that practical steps are taken, and proposals put forward, which aim to improve the two organisations’ relations in areas that are equally important for the EU and NATO, such as the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism or the development of military capabilities.
History of European security and defence policy
The notion of a European defence dimension arose as a result of the altered European security political environment after the cold war. With the decline of the probability of a widespread European war, a review of the United States’ military presence in Europe featured on the agenda, and the idea that European NATO organisations should undertake a bigger burden in security policy took hold in U.S. politics. On the other hand, it became apparent to a hitherto reluctant Europe that the EU would have to take on a much bigger role in future in sorting out European problems after the handling of the crisis according to American scenarios—disputed on several points—in the Balkans.
The launch of the ESDP was outlined in the Maastricht Treaty: besides institutionalised common foreign and security policy (CFSP), it presents the possibility of common defence in the direction of European defence co-operation. Maastricht—as the second important innovation touching the area of defence—created a functional connection between the EU and the Western European Union: henceforth, the EU could ask the WEU for its participation in the execution of defence-type ramifications accompanying Union decisions.
The Amsterdam Treaty, signed in October 1997, presaged the possibility of the creation of a common defence policy. It declared at the same time that the common defence policy being worked out constitutes an integral part of the CFSP. The real change came about with the St Malo French-British common statement in December 1998, which urged the creation of a credible, prepared, self-reliant, independent and action-capable military. At the Cologne session of June 1999, the European Council made a decision for the EU to take over individual functions from the Western European Union by the end of 2000, and called for the development of European military capabilities, the strengthening and harmonisation of the foundations of the defence industry and technology, and the co-ordination of military development and procurement.
Assigning the formal tasks of the ESDP and determining the order of magnitude of necessary military capabilities, as well as underpinning the institutional background, came about at the Helsinki summit of the European Council in December 1999. In Helsinki, the task of the common European security and defence policy was defined as the creation of an autonomous capability for security-related decision-making, setting up the possibility of EU military operations—insofar as they did not affect NATO as an alliance—being embarked upon and implemented in the interest of bringing order to crisis spots.
The task to set up new political and military bodies (the Political and Security Committee, Military Committee, International Military Staff) within the Council was initiated in Helsinki for the preparation of decisions related to the ESDP, for situational analysis, proposals and the operative direction of missions. The Policy and Security Committee became the body responsible for the operative direction of the whole of the CFSP.
At the Brussels summit of the European Council in December 2003, the European Security Strategy under the title “A More Secure Europe in a Better World” was adopted, which set out its ambitions in the area of common foreign and security policy for the appearance of the European Union as a global actor.
On July 12, 2004, the General and Foreign Relations Council set up the European Defence Agency in order to boost efficiency by harmonising the development of member states’ defence capabilities. The Agency falls under the supervision of the Council, and its main task is to support the endeavours of member states in nurturing defence capabilities, crisis management, as well as the further development of the ESDP.
European defence and security policy undoubtedly will continue to drive the development of the CFSP, considering that the defence dimension supported by concrete capabilities can open up opportunities for a whole range of international roles and responsibilities for the European Union.
In the area of crisis management, both the EU and NATO play an exceptionally important role. Both organisations have significant crisis-management capabilities which, given efficient utilisation, help stabilise affected regions, solve crises, and therefore contribute to our own security.
Co-operation between the two organisations is not entirely smooth. In the background stands an exceptionally complex series of problems; ideological differences on the one hand, while on the other, variant interests and institutional problems hinder the strengthening of relations.
Operational co-operation between the EU and NATO, however, has seen significant advances in the recent past. In this regard, the most important institutional element was the adoption of the Berlin Plus agreement-package in December 2002. The adopted agreement regarding the transposition of means and capabilities from NATO to EU operations, was tested in practice by the two organisations when the EU officially took over the NATO military operation for the first time in Macedonia in 2003 and then—the real test—in Bosnia Herzegovina in 2004.
Security challenges are already changing, and, in many respects, the Berlin Plus agreement has become obsolete in the sense that already operations and situations (e.g. Afghanistan, Kosovo) are emerging in which both organisations fulfil independent roles. In light of current challenges the improvement of relations and the strengthening of the strategic partnership is the main goal. The steps taken in harmonising actions in joint operational theatres is exceptionally important for the success of both NATO and EU missions. It would be appropriate to strengthen institutional dialogue in parallel with ad-hoc co-operation. Emphatically, it is in our interests that the two organisations should deepen strategic co-operation, considering we are participating in both EU and NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo. In respect of closing the conceptual gap, we support the strengthening of co-operation between the two international organisations, both in terms of operational planning and implementation.