About CSDP - The Cologne European Council

Cologne European CouncilCologne European Council
  • Member States agreed that the EU should have the military capacity to respond to international crises autonomously;
  • Led to the establishment of the General Affairs Council, the Political and Security Committee , the EU Military Committee, and the EU Military Staff
  • For military operations forces can be drawn either from NATO assets or national or multinational contributions.


At the June 1999 European Council meeting in Cologne (Germany), EU heads of state and government agreed that ‘the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO.’ The agreement was preceded by a bilateral meeting between then President Jacques Chirac of France and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in Saint-Malo (France), in December 1998. The resulting declaration indicated for the first time a Franco-British consensus on the evolution of a defence component for the European Union: its wording constituted the basis for the agreement at EU level in Cologne.

In the recognition that the evolution of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) was a prerequisite for the Union to play a full role on the international stage, EU Member States agreed in Cologne on the necessity to put in place institutional arrangements for the analysis, planning and conduct of military operations. This would require:

  • Regular meetings of the General Affairs Council (GAC), including, when appropriate, national defence ministers;
  • A permanent body in Brussels, the Political and Security Committee (PSC), consisting of representatives at ambassador level with political/military (pol/mil) expertise;
  • An EU Military Committee consisting of military representatives that make recommendations to the PSC;
  • An EU Military Staff including a Situation Centre;
  • Other resources such as a Satellite Centreand an Institute for Security Studies.


Furthermore, European heads of state and government envisaged the need to develop military forces and headquarters particularly suited for crisis management operations. The deployable forces would be drawn either from NATO assets [see Berlin Plus] or from a pool of national or multinational contributions by EU Member States. At the Cologne meeting, five principles were also outlined that were deemed essential for the successful creation of the CSDP:

  • The possibility of all EU Member States, including non-allied members, to participate fully and on an equal footing in EU operations;
  • Satisfactory arrangements for European NATO members who are not EU Member States to ensure their fullest possible involvement in EU-led operations, building on existing consultation arrangements within the Western European Union (WEU);
  • Arrangements to ensure that all participants in an EU-led operation will have equal rights in respect of the conduct of that operation, without prejudice to the principle of the EU's decision-making autonomy, notably the right of the Council to discuss and decide matters of principle and policy
  • The need to ensure the development of effective mutual consultation, cooperation and transparency between NATO and the EU;
  • The consideration of ways to ensure the possibility for WEU Associate Partners to be involved.

The European Council also anticipated the incorporation of the functions of the WEU into the EU. The Council declaration states that in the event of the EU fulfilling its responsibility in the area of the Petersberg tasks, ‘the WEU as an organisation would have completed its purpose’. At the Cologne meeting, Member States also appointed Javier Solana, from Spain, as High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), a post that had been created by the Treaty of Amsterdam.

Documents: