Business Briefs

European Military Capabilities

Since the Balkan crises of the 1990s, the European Union has attempted to strengthen its capacity for independent military action. One consequence has been the creation of a European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) and of the associated institutional infrastructure that now allows the EU to take charge of its own military operations. Indeed, since 2003, the EU has engaged in an impressive variety of peacekeeping and crisis management operations and an increasing number of European forces have been diverted to overseas deployments. However, European armies have been slow to acquire some of the military equipment necessary to engage in high end war-fighting and force projection that the EU would need in order to shoulder wider global responsibilities. European countries have only reluctantly accepted a growing role in Afghanistan, Congo and Lebanon, and in all three cases they have encountered great difficulties in cobbling together the necessary troops and resources to fulfill the task at hand. What does this tell us about the progress of Europe's developing security and defense policy? Have European countries, in fact, already reached the limit of their military capacities? In light of current developments, this brief aims to assess the European Union's emerging capacity for independent military action.

  • The Capabilities Gap: Fiction or Reality
  • Developing a Common Military Force?
  • Ongoing Efforts: Toward a Global European Role?
  • An Uncertain Future for Europe's Military Forces

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