Common Security and Defence Policy

Table of Contents:

Common Security and Defence Policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Common Security and Defence Policy


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

Common Security and Defence Policy

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) replaces the former European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The Treaty of Lisbon introduces this name change by dedicating a new section in the founding Treaties to this policy. The Treaty of Lisbon emphasises the importance and specific nature of the CSDP, which still forms an integral part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

In addition to this new recognition, the Treaty of Lisbon also introduces new provisions aimed at developing the CSDP. The main innovations aim to gradually establish a common European defence.

Member States may also participate in military or humanitarian missions and are henceforth bound by a solidarity clause on matters of European defence. They also have the means to cooperate more closely in this field, particularly in the European Defence Agency or through establishing permanent structured cooperation.

As in the preceding Treaties, the CSDP remains a fundamentally intergovernmental issue. The Council of the EU principally acts unanimously. However, the finance and operational means for missions carried out under the framework of the CSDP are provided by Member States.


The CSDP offers a framework for cooperation within which the EU can conduct operational missions in third countries. Specifically, the aims of these missions are peace-keeping and strengthening international security. They rely on civil and military assets provided by Member States.

Before the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, the tasks which could be carried out under the framework of the CSDP were:

  • humanitarian and rescue tasks;
  • conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks;
  • tasks of combat forces in crisis management.

The Treaty of Lisbon adds three new tasks to this list:

  • joint disarmament operations;
  • military advice and assistance tasks;
  • tasks in post-conflict stabilisation.

The Council defines the objectives of the tasks and the general conditions for their implementation. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Council may henceforth delegate the implementation of a task to a group of Member States which are willing and have the necessary civil and military assets to carry out the task. Member States responsible for carrying out tasks must regularly inform the Council of their progress. They also act in association with the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Treaty of Lisbon acknowledges the potential intervention of multinational forces in the implementation of the CSDP. These forces are the result of the military alliance between certain Member States who have decided to combine their capacities, equipment and personnel strength. The main “Euroforces” are:

  • Eurofor, regrouping land forces between Spain, France, Italy and Portugal;
  • Eurocorps, regrouping land forces between Germany, Belgium, Spain, France and Luxembourg;
  • Euromarfor, regrouping maritime forces between Spain, France, Italy and Portugal;
  • the European Air Group, regrouping air forces between Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.


The Treaty of Lisbon introduces for the first time a mutual defence clause, specifically binding EU Member States. If a Member State is the victim of an armed attack on its territory, it can rely on the aid and assistance of the other Member States, which are obliged to help.

Two restrictions moderate this clause:

  • the mutual defence clause does not affect the security and defence policy of certain Member States, specifically those which are traditionally neutral;
  • the mutual defence clause does not affect the commitments made under the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


The Treaty of Lisbon extends and lists the competences of the European Defence Agency. The main objective of the Agency is to improve Member States’ military capacities. To this end, the Agency shall:

  • set common objectives for Member States in terms of military capacity;
  • introduce and manage programmes in order to achieve the set objectives;
  • harmonise Member States’ operational needs and improve the methods for procuring military equipment;
  • manage defence technology research activities;
  • contribute to strengthening the industrial and technological base of the defence sector and improving the effectiveness of military expenditure.


Permanent structured cooperation refers to a deeper form of cooperation between Member States in the defence sector. It is the subject of a Protocol appended to the Treaty of Lisbon.

Under this framework, participating Member States commit to developing their defence capacities more intensively and to supplying combat units for planned missions. The European Defence Agency regularly assesses participating Member States’ contributions.

Permanent structured cooperation must be authorised by the Council, which acts by a qualified majority at the request of participating States. There is no Member States threshold for establishing permanent structured cooperation. Member States are free to withdraw or participate in the permanent structured cooperation as long as they meet the commitment criteria.

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