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Why the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is not leading towards a European peace policy


Public event, Berlin, 24 Sept. 2010, 19:00, with Sabine Lösing MEP, Johannes M. Becker Ph.D. and Giji Gya Ph.D.


Sabine Lösing MEP / Johannes M. Becker Ph.D., Marburg University - Center for Conflict Research / Giji Gya Ph.D., Director of ISIS Europe (International Security Information Service)


Time: Friday, 24 Sept. 2010, 19:00
Venue: Europäisches Haus/Big Conference Hall of the Information Office of the European Parliament, Unter den Linden 78 / Wilhelmstraße, 10117 Berlin (Public transport: S-Bahn S 1 und S 2 Unter den Linden, Buslinien 100, 200, TXL)
Moderation: Birgit Daiber, RLF Brussels
Organisation: GUE/NGL, parliamentary faction Die Linke of the European Parliament, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

Contact: Ramona Hering, Telefon 030 44310-417,



The development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP) within the EU has always been a controversial issue. In fact, EU leaders have found the one hand, it is clear that the member states will have more power and influence in the world if they act as a group rather than independently. On the other hand, there is reasonable fear that coordination will interfere with the freedom of member states to address matters of national rather than of European interest.

Following the end of cold war and the emergence of different crises in Europe, a political weakness of Europe became increasingly apparent. The EU lacked necessary political mechanism as well as a military force and coordination for playing a role in the crises. On the other hand, reaching a consensus among European leaders for adopting a common position was a very difficult task.

So the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was regarded as one of the three pillars of the EU under the treaty of Maastricht. The goals of the CFSP were defined as safeguarding common values and fundamental interests; preserving peace and strengthening international security; and promoting international cooperation. And in 1993/1999 the CFSP appeared to be a most promising tool for the EU to reach these goals. Today, ten years later we state that peace preservation, and international security is still a long way ahead.

Stability in many regions, including the Middle East for instance, is unlikely to rise for various reasons. The terrorist threat and the Iraq war have again reminded the EU of the need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU’s efforts to negotiating a trade agreement with Syria that includes a commitment to non-proliferation of WMD, as well as the intended ‘expansion’ of the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue to the wider Arab world need to be seen in this context.

Especially the case of Iraq made clear that the EU had no COMMON Foreign and Security Policy. Although the Iraq experience may have forced the EU to reflect on its capabilities, assets and expertise and the opportunity to look for complementary approaches to highly complex problems of global security was not taken. Instead the EU was involved in more military action and engagement.

By contrast in areas such as economics or humanitarian aid the Union was and is undoubtedly a global actor. Furthermore, with the operation Artemis in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), the EU demonstrated that crisis management from Europe was part of the EU response to instability, which was far from being acknowledged before this specific crisis arose.

Furthermore, it seems that the implications of the EU to proclaim itself a global actor have not been properly explored, especially insofar as crisis management is concerned and it takes more than projecting forces in the DRC for a few weeks to become a global actor.

This issue leads back to the question of the cohesion of the EU and the existence of the CFSP and goes therefore far beyond peace operations. It also relates to the linkage between global status and global responsibilities.
On the crisis management front, the EU is watched today far more closely than it was years ago. The pressure to “do something” is higher; another is that a failure in an operation would be truly detrimental to the credibility and ambitions of the EU as an institution. Similarly, for the EU to be involved in different places in the world can and did undermine the cohesion of EU strategy, or simply lead to a questioning of the existence of such a strategy. But the movement of the EU nations towards a greater integration of their military forces, particularly in terms of their operations within the NATO alliance cannot deflect that such a strategy is not fully developed. Operations in the context of NATO military operations have and had the effect of inflicting massive damages on poor regions of the globe and served to reinforce the inequality of the global power order. So what is really needed and has to be strengthened are stronger and more effective incentives for engagement and further development of capabilities, for crisis prevention, conflict management and resolution capabilities as well as support for global development.


» Documentation of event in German



» Flyer (PDF)


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