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The EU's Common Security and Defence Policy: A Fresh Impetus?

Published Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The European Council Summit is due to be held on 19-20 December 2013. Among the main issues for debate is the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It will be the first time in five years that EU leaders have comprehensively discussed EU defence policy, amid criticisms that CSDP has lost momentum due to a lack of consensus over its strategic direction, an unwillingness on the part of Member States to commit the necessary resources and the prevailing economic crisis which has seen defence budgets fall across Europe and capabilities cut.

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The European Council Summit is due to be held on 19-20 December 2013. Among the main issues for debate is the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It will be the first time in five years that EU leaders have comprehensively discussed EU defence policy, amid criticisms that CSDP has lost momentum due to a lack of consensus over its strategic direction, an unwillingness on the part of Member States to commit the necessary resources and the prevailing economic crisis which has seen defence budgets fall across Europe and capabilities cut.

The hope is that EU leaders will take this opportunity to inject fresh impetus into EU defence policy and agree recommendations, set out in a report from the EU High Representative in October 2013, on strengthening CSDP, improving the availability of civilian and military capabilities, and strengthening Europe’s defence industry.

However, the prospect of achieving significant progress at the summit has been viewed by many as difficult. Much will depend on the stance of individual Member States, where their interests converge and how much they are willing to push their own agendas. As the largest EU military powers, the attitudes of the UK, France and Germany will be crucial if a fresh impetus to CSDP is to be achieved.

Commons Briefing papers SN06771

Author: Claire Mills

Topics: Defence policy, EU defence policy, European Council

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