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The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is an integral part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Its main objectives are crisis management operations and other activities, as well as developing new instruments and concepts aimed at attaining CFSP goals. It is focused on military and civilian crisis management operations, including response to natural, humanitarian or other disasters, and a systematic approach to the planning of appropriate capacities and institutions.




The beginning of ESDP dates back to the 1990s, when the Common Foreign and Security Policy was developed. In 1998, the French-British Summit in St Malo set up the framework and main objectives of the ESDP. In that period, the ESDP was simultaneously developed within the Western European Union and the European Security and Defence Identity within NATO. In 1999, the Cologne European Council confirmed the ESDP’s role and defined its goals.


Ever since then, the development of the ESDP has been very fast and dynamic, especially in adopting an institutional framework for capacity building. It can be divided into two phases: in the 1998–2002 period, the ESDP framework was established and its capacities defined; in the second phase, since 2002, the ESDP has come fully alive. Today, its role and scope are evident from its clearly defined framework and operations reaching from South Eastern and Eastern Europe to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.


European Security Strategy


The European Security Strategy entitled A secure Europe in a better world, which was adopted in 2003, provides the ESDP with a political framework. As a doctrinal document, the Strategy analyses the main challenges and threats to European security: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, failed states and organised crime. On the basis of the analysis, the Strategy defines three goals of the European Union in ensuring its security and promoting its values: countering threats with a conflict prevention policy, employing civilian and military capabilities; building security in the European Neighbourhood – Western Balkans, Middle East and Caucasus; and promoting effective multilateralism in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Following the decision of the European Council of December 2007, the Strategy is being reviewed to adapt it to new security challenges and the changed security environment.




At the strategic level, ESDP institutions fall under the responsibility of the European Council and the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC). At the operational level, they are politically controlled by the Political and Security Committee, which closely cooperates with the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and the EU Military Committee.




The initial activities, i.e. the Petersberg tasks, included peace operations, peacebuilding, the provision of humanitarian aid, and assistance in cases of natural and other disasters. The development of the civilian crisis management component began with the 2000 European Council conclusions from Santa Maria da Feira and with the definition of activities in the fields of police, justice, public administration and civil protection, based on the Civilian Headline Goal 2008 of December 2004. The development of the military component of crisis management continued in 1999 with the adoption of the European Headline Goal and was upgraded with the EU Battlegroup Concept (up to the brigade level) in 2004, which became operative in 2007 with the possibility of deployment in 5–10 days for 30–120 days.


The development of capabilities introduced a more systematic approach, more content, the strengthening of cooperation with other players, and the setting up of institutions to help this development. The European Defence Agency is responsible for a long-term development of coherent policies in defence industry and markets, research, development, and armament.


The EU has developed instruments aimed at conflict prevention and post-conflict management, for example, assistance to the security sector reform, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.


Berlin Plus


The Berlin Plus agreement represents a milestone in the development of EU capabilities; it enables the EU to access and benefit from NATO planning capabilities. The EU and NATO have also developed a framework of cooperation to enable a complementary development of capabilities. In the field of crisis management, the EU also cooperates with the United Nations and other organisations. An important contribution to the development of capabilities is, furthermore, the participation of third countries in EU operations.


Slovenia and the ESDP


Slovenia supports further development of the ESDP in all its dimensions: operations, institutions and capabilities. Slovenia participates in ESDP operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Chad/Central African Republic. It also took part in the ESDP operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and joined the EU support for the African Union in Sudan/Darfur. In the second half of 2007, Slovenia participated in the EU Battlegroups, together with Italy and Hungary.