The European Union: A Guide for Americans
Delegation of the European Commission to the USA
Anthony Smallwood Head, Press and Public Diplomacy Editor-in-Chief
Melinda Stevenson Senior Editor
Manuscript completed February 2007
with updates in March 2009
Copyright © 2007 by the Delegation
of the European Commission to the USA
2300 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Catalogue Number IQ 70-07-996-EN-C
Europe in the World
[Info Box] The Rapid Reaction Mechanism: Providing Aid Quickly and Effectively
The EU decided in 2001 to set up a special emergency fund to respond quickly to the needs of countries undergoing crisis or moving toward crisis. The fund, known as the Rapid Reaction Mechanism (RRM), provides flexible short-term support to safeguard or re-establish conditions of stability in the partner countries. Its annual budget of €30 million finances actions for a maximum of six months with the idea that longer-term aid can then take over.
The RRM can intervene immediately prior, during, and after a crisis. At any one time, the RRM may be supporting over 60 operations in countries across the globe. The scale and nature of the crisis defines the type of actions that are funded. It can send technical teams to assess the situation in a country during a crisis—as happened in Afghanistan—before deciding on long-term aid. It can fund mine clearance, the cost of mediation and peace talks, and the training of police as part of an effort to restore the rule of law. It can monitor elections, consolidate and build up civilian administrations, help soldiers return to civilian life, rebuild houses, schools, hospitals, bridges and roads and contribute to the strategic planning of the economic, administrative and social rebuilding of the affected countries.
The RRM can also step in to help countries deal with natural or man-made disasters and can be used either for one-time actions or to kickstart longer-term projects or programs. In affected countries, it works through NGOs, international organizations, and individual experts. It can also mobilize the resources of EU Member States’ public administrations. The RRM differs from the EU’s humanitarian aid which is politically neutral and directed to individuals. RRM efforts have the clear aim to rebuild or establish civic structures without which, there can be no political, social, or economic stability. As such, its operations support the EU’s political priorities and seek to defuse crises, opening the way for the political process and longer-term support. [End Box]
ESDP missions include humanitarian and relief work, peacekeeping, and the use of combat forces in crisis management. Since 2003, more than 20 ESDP operations have been launched, including military and police missions, rule of law missions, and civilian-military support action. These operations have been undertaken in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Kosovo. ESDP operations are also underway in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the South Caucasus.
Within ESDP, there is:
- A Political and Security Committee (PSC) (also known by its French acronym COPS) to help the Council monitor international events and review policy options.
- The Military Committee of the European Union (EUMC), composed of Member State chiefs of defense staff or their representatives.
- The European Union Military Staff (EUMS), drawn from Member State service personnel.
- The EU Satellite Center (EUSC), which generates and analyzes data from space imagery.
- The EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), which performs research and analysis.
- The European Defense Agency (EDA).
The EDA was launched in 2004 to help Member States improve their defense capabilities and to support the ESDP. The EDA coordinates and fosters cooperation relating to Member States’ defense capabilities development, armaments, the European defense technological and industrial base and equipment market, and research and technology. All Member States except Denmark participate.
For the EU Member States in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO remains the basis for collective defense. In security operations where NATO is not engaged, the EU can use NATO assets in addition to those of EU Member States.
The two organizations have several institutional mechanisms to provide for close consultations.
The EU and NATO
The European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—to which 21 of the 27 Member States belong—have built a genuine strategic partnership with the shared goal of regional stability and peace. The “Berlin Plus” arrangements, adopted in 1999, provide the framework for cooperation between the EU and NATO. These arrangements include granting the EU access to NATO operational planning assets when it is leading crisis management operations; availability to the EU of NATO capabilities and common assets; NATO European command options for EU-led operations; and having NATO include in its defense planning the possibility of making its forces available for EU operations.
The “Berlin Plus” arrangements were the foundation for the landmark 2002 Declaration on the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) between the EU and NATO. That Declaration served as the basis for EU-NATO cooperation on crisis management, anti-terrorism efforts, curbing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and ensuring EU access to NATO’s planning capability.
In March 2003, the EU and NATO signed the NATO-EU Agreement on the Security of Information, an agreement that enabled full consultations and cooperation between the two organizations, including the exchange of classified information and related material.
The culmination of those agreements was the EU’s assumption on March 31, 2003, of NATO’s mission in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Called Operation Concordia, the deployment of about 400 troops from EU Member States and other nations marked the first time the Union led a military mission. The European Union again relieved a NATO force in 2004, this time in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [*NB “When NATO Killed Journalists” Counterpunch]
Cooperation between the EU and NATO is likely to grow in the future. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called for an expanded relationship in 2004, as both organizations were adding new Member States: “Ever since the end of the Cold War, NATO and the European Union have worked together on a wider range of issues, and to greater effect. Today, we face a range of new and complex challenges that force us to do even better: To work in a truly pragmatic manner—by complementing and reinforcing each other’s efforts.”
Click here to open/download The European Union: A Guide for Americans (PDF)