Since Maastricht the European Union has been developing a military element. Firstly with the Common Foreign and Security Policy, then (via the Western European Union vehicle) the European Security and Defence Identity and European Security and Defence Policy. The WEU integrated with the EU in 1999.

The first missions were deployed in 2003 and the Lisbon Treaty introduced the Common Security and Defence Policy which in turn introduced the European External Action Service and Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence.

What are the arguments for militarising the European Union - ostensibly started as a trade bloc - in this way?

  • 5
    Depends how you look at it, initiatives like that are much older, cf. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… From that perspective, it's not quite true that the EU ostensibly started as a trade bloc. But at the end of the day, these initiatives did not amount to much, it's hard to see any “militarisation” of the EU. Is your question why the Maastricht treaty (which created the EU) integrated the EEC with the CFSP and a bunch of other things instead of leaving them alone?
    – Relaxed
    Feb 7, 2019 at 16:12
  • 3
    Rebuttal is a refutation of a premise or argument. If the premise of the question is incorrect, rebut away...
    – 52d6c6af
    Feb 7, 2019 at 18:19
  • 2
    @Ben, did you read what I wrote? If it has to be rebutted, it should be closed instead. We're not a debate site, we're a Q&A site.
    – o.m.
    Feb 7, 2019 at 18:21
  • 3
    If it needs to be rebutted then that is an unknown unknown (sic) to me at the time of writing the question. Hence the question. I am asking in good faith!
    – 52d6c6af
    Feb 7, 2019 at 18:31
  • 6
    "If it has to be rebutted, it should be closed instead" - is that the policy here at politics.SE? I thought answers challenging premises were welcome, as long as the question itself was asked in good faith. Feb 7, 2019 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


The EEAS has an informative piece on the Common Security and Defence Policy. The arguments you ask about can be found by looking at what the policy aims to do: the Petersberg Tasks (quoting from the previous link by EEAS).

These tasks, to me, seem more outgoing, whereas NATO is primarily aimed at defending member states. The reason for doing this through the EU rather than as individual member states is the same as why anything is done through the EU (as opposed to individual member states): because it's more efficient to work together.

The Petersberg tasks formed an integral part of the then European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) - now Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) - and defined the spectrum of military actions/functions that the European Union can undertake in its crisis management operations.

The Petersberg tasks were first agreed upon at the June 1992 Western European Union (WEU) Council of Ministers near Bonn, Germany. Article II.4 of the subsequent ministerial declaration outlined the following three purposes for which military units could be deployed:

  • humanitarian and rescue tasks;

  • peacekeeping tasks;

  • tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.

The term ‘peacemaking’ was adopted as a consensual solution and as a synonym for ‘peace-enforcement’. The Petersberg tasks were subsequently incorporated into Article 17 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) through the Treaty of Amsterdam.

The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon (TEU Art. 42) then further expanded these tasks to include:

  • humanitarian and rescue tasks;
  • conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks;
  • tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking;
  • joint disarmament operations;
  • military advice and assistance tasks;
  • post-conflict stabilisation tasks.

Attribution: https://eeas.europa.eu/topics/common-security-and-defence-policy-csdp/5388/shaping-common-security-and-defence-policy_en#The+Petersberg+Tasks

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Philipp
    Feb 8, 2019 at 23:18

Currently the EU members promise to defend each other against armed aggression in Article 42(7) TEU.

If I understand you correctly, you see this as an change of the avowed original purpose of the EU (note the word "ostensibly" used by you). I see it as a perfectly logical development of a union with shared democratic values -- a part of the EU being occupied by a third party would certainly hinder free trade in goods and services!

  • While it would be possible to maintain this promise on a political level without military preparations for a common defense, it seems logical to prepare for joint action.
  • Most but not all EU members are also NATO members, and vice versa. Traditionally the US maintained the capability to act both independently and as a part of NATO while the other NATO partners would have trouble to handle a major theater war on their own. The US complains about this imbalance. (I'm not sure that they would be happy if the EU had and used an independent capability, but that's not the question here.)
  • Military integration under the NATO umbrella has reached a point where most EU members would be unable to act without the others, except for small expeditionary forces.
  • It would a logical extension of the free trade rules to have EU-wide open competitive bidding on military purchases. A small step from there to have a joint procurement process.
  • A mutual defence pact (A42(7)) between member states is not militarisation. Militarisation is the acquisition of a military capability. For example, according to Wikipedia "...between May and September 2003 EU troops were deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)." Does this mean that these troops were deployed under the auspices of the EU? Presumably it does, otherwise it would have said NATO, or a "coalition." Or perhaps I am wrong. The "EU" deployed again to the Congo in 2006 under an operation named EUFOR RD Congo, approved by the European Council (an EU institution).
    – 52d6c6af
    Feb 7, 2019 at 18:37
  • @Ben, yes, see my second and third bullet point.
    – o.m.
    Feb 7, 2019 at 18:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .