The European Security Strategy (ESS), adopted by the European Council on 12-13 December 2003, provides the conceptual framework for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including what would later become the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The split between EU member states over the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 highlighted the need for a common strategic vision to enhance internal cohesion at EU level. Member states thus tasked the then High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, to draft such a strategy.
Titled ‘A Secure Europe in a Better World’, the ESS is a brief but comprehensive document which analyses and defines for the first time the EU’s security environment, identifying key security challenges and subsequent political implications for the EU.
In this framework, the ESS singles out five key threats:
The ESS also calls for preventive engagement to avoid new conflicts/crises. Building security in the EU’s neighbourhood (Balkans, Southern Caucasus, and the Mediterranean) is prioritised as is the goal of strengthening the international rules-based order through effective multilateralism. Furthermore, the ESS explicitly acknowledges the interdependence of various global security challenges, i.a. by linking security and development issues and highlighting the possible interplay between key threats.
Finally, the ESS addresses the political implications of the new security environment. It states that the EU needs to be more active, more coherent and more capable. The importance of international cooperation and EU partnerships is also emphasised by claiming that none of the threats can be tackled by the Union alone. The conclusion reaffirms that these challenges also pose opportunities for the EU to become more active and more capable in the pursuit of a safer, more unified world.
Four years after the adoption of the ESS, member states tasked the High Representative at the December 2007 European Council ‘to examine the implementation of the Strategy with a view to proposing elements on how to improve the implementation and, as appropriate, elements to complement it’. The resulting document, the 2008 ‘Report of the Implementation of the European Security Strategy: Providing Security in a Changing World’, effectively confirmed the enduring validity of the 2003 ESS and the need to be ‘more capable, more coherent and more active’ in order for the EU to reach its full potential.
Approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 11 and 12 December 2008 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative Javier SOLANA
Approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 12 December 2003 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative Javier SOLANA