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EU Crisis Response Capabilities: An Update


In June 2001, ICG published a first report on EU crisis response capabilities, which presented a snapshot of the institutions, policies and processes for conflict prevention and crisis management as they stood at mid 2001. It described the respective roles in external relations matters of the three key EU institutions, Council, Commission and Parliament, and the evolving machinery for implementing more coordinated strategies in the formulation of general policy positions, conflict prevention and conflict management.

With the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) still very much at the "work in progress" stage, the report drew attention to a series of evident problems in the EU's crisis response capability, among them the Union's manifest difficulty in successfully lining up the whole range of its external policy instruments in support of clear and unified political strategies. The report also suggested a number of ways forward, including the strengthening of tools at the cutting edge spectrum of conflict prevention and crisis management, as opposed to long-term peacebuilding efforts through aid and trade.

This briefing paper is an update, ten months on, of that ICG report. While no basic changes have occurred to the formal organisational machinery - as set out in the charts in the Appendix - there has been since mid 2001 a significant increase in EU activity, mainly in the context of the response to terrorism post-11 September, and some further evolution of process, particularly in the context of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) being declared operational.

This briefing summarises these various developments, and outlines the issues that remain to be resolved if the EU, as a collective entity, is to become a fully effective player on the international foreign and security policy stage. ICG will continue to maintain a watching brief on the EU's capability, and will return periodically to these issues in future reports and briefing papers.

Brussels, 29 April 2002


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