Center for Strategic Decision Research


The EU Presidency: The Way Ahead

His Excellency Björn von Sydow
Defense Minister of Sweden


Let me begin by quoting the German philosopher Habermas: "The essence of modern democracy does not lay in the formal methods that make institutions work and on the democratic participation of the people, rather in an interactive communication link between the political power and an organized civil society. This interactive link has a fundamental role in the process of formulating decisions, as decisions are continuously influenced by the views expressed by the organized society."

In my mind, Habermas underestimated the representative elements in today's democracies, but interaction is surely often processed via the media in decisive ways. In Berlin, in May 2001, Antonio Guterres, the Prime Minister of Portugal, said that this is why the European Union, as the sole organized regional space in the world, plays a fundamental role in the building of the new political architecture and needs to be strengthened further.

We must keep these observations in mind as we continue to develop the European crisis-management capability. The fact that the European Defense and Security Policy has evolved rapidly I take as a positive sign. The Amsterdam Treaty via the Helsinki Headline Goal will be fulfilled by 2003, and it is hoped that in December 2001, in Laeken, the European Council will declare the Union operational- at least on a case-by-case basis-and that the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) will continue to evolve to meet the Union's crisis-management needs. The dynamism and speed that drive this process in my point of view has not been seen since the internal market was implemented.


At the May 2001 meeting of EU Defense Ministers, there were two important focuses of discussion: military capabilities and the importance of making the EU crisis-management capacity quickly operational; and fulfilling the Headline Goal by 2003. Another important issue was transparency. As this work is undertaken we must remember to keep our citizens informed about defense and security police efforts. And we must provide information, allow participation, and offer transparency on all levels-not make decisions behind closed doors-if we are to succeed domestically as well as in the multinational framework.

In the near future, the Union will need to show that it can carry out Petersberg tasks and strengthen its crisis-management capability as the public demands. Europe has an important role to play in crisis management, as underlined by my visit to Skopje, Pristina, and Belgrade prior to this Workshop. The situation in Macedonia is very serious, and time seems to be running out. The situation in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina also is not developing in the direction and with the speed we would wish. The situation in Serbia, with its improved relationship with the international community, and the takeover of the Ground Safety Zone (GSZ), has been more successful.


I would like to make a few comments about the ESDP work accomplished so far during the Swedish Presidency of the European Union. In January 2001, the Political and Security Committee was declared permanent. In the following April, the General Affairs Council appointed a permanent chairman of the EU Military Committee, which then began to operate on a permanent basis. The EU Military Staff will be established on a permanent basis no later than June 30, 2001. Consequently, all military structures in the Union will be in place by the end of the Swedish Presidency.

Because exercises need to be carried out to certify that procedures and structures work according to plan, on May 14, 2001, the General Affairs Council adopted the EU Exercise Policy and Program for the years 2001-2006. This program enables the proper testing and validation of structures, procedures, and arrangements through a sequence of increasingly challenging exercises. The program will ensure appropriate readiness and efficient functioning in a crisis. In addition, the exercises will demonstrate the need for new capability requirements and member-states' willingness to contribute to crisis management, contributing substantially to the credibility of the ESDP.

We attach great importance to genuine, transparent cooperation with NATO in the area of crisis management. A close, smoothly functioning relationship between the EU and NATO is an essential element for the Union's crisis-management work and for all involved countries. Such a relationship was evidenced in the fruitful meetings held in the spring of 2001 in which the situation in Southern Serbia was discussed, as well as the security provisions given to the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and the recent visit to FYROM. The joint efforts of the two Secretaries General resulted in a change of attitude on the FYROM side and the acceptance of the EU-NATO line for establishing a broad coalition government.

Though short in duration, the cooperative experience has pointed in a very positive direction. Through it the EU and NATO have shown their ability to act and their ability to coordinate their actions, which can be mutually reinforcing. It has also show that when the EU and NATO make a common effort, tangible results can be achieved.


In addition to cooperating, it is also important to strengthen the ties between European crisis management and the UN so that our efforts to create a solid European crisis-management capability are understood in the right context. Crisis management is a tool to be used for various purposes, one of which is to lend support to UN missions and activities building international peace and security. It is also essential that the EU consult and participate with other potential partners such as Canada that have an important standing in NATO and that have contributed to peace-support operations for decades. Cooperative arrangements with Russia and Ukraine are also underway following the principles the European Council laid down in Nice.

The EU has unique potential in the field of crisis management. In order to turn this potential into reality the Union needs to further explore coordinating with a variety of institutions and using a variety of tools. In this respect, civil-military cooperation and coordination are fundamental. We began working to achieve these objectives with a seminar in Ystad on April 18-19, 2001.

As the EU acquires the ability to carry out military crisis-management operations, it must also acquire the ability to provide civilian components of coordinated operations. Such components are now being targeted and discussed. Capacities are of primary importance to fulfilling the Headline Goal for 2003. I warmly welcome the continuing development of relations both with the candidates for accession to the EU and with non-EU European NATO members. We are discussing capacity issues in order to simplify cooperation and coordination in joint efforts to prevent, confine, and resolve existing or potential crises. Such efforts illustrate the profound interest and solid commitment on the part of all of us to take part in the European crisis-management architecture.

As of today, the majority of candidates for accession to the EU as well as the majority of non-EU European NATO members already take part in exercises and related activities within NATO and the Partnership for Peace. I believe these frameworks should also be the focal point for future exercises. In addition, the work on the Helsinki Progress Catalogue (HPC) and on political priorities is giving the incoming Belgian Presidency a solid base for the upcoming Capabilities Conference, which should be open and part of our strategic policy.


One of the EU's roles is to decide on which solid, viable, and comprehensive basis national decisions are to be made. Decisions that relate to contributions and commitments are of course actually national decisions. One of the decisions that came out of the Nice European Council was to quickly make the EU operational. This means that all steps that will do so should be given priority, though we must also work toward the capability goal of 2003. Measures that will quickly enable us to reach a higher level of capability in undertaking Petersberg tasks should be considered.

When considering military operations, we must recognize the importance of all capabilities, regardless of scale and level of intensity. We must also understand the importance of having recourse to NATO assets and capabilities as we prioritize capabilities in general and shortfalls in particular. It is hoped that an agreement on a review mechanism for developing EU military capabilities will be reached by the European Council in Göteborg and that we will also discuss additional criteria for prioritizing. The EU and NATO have agreed on arrangements for consultation and cooperation, and formal negotiations on a security agreement will commence shortly. However, an agreement on Berlin+ is still pending. Any further delay in reaching this agreement will result in a negative impact on the Union's ability to act on a more demanding and complex level of Petersberg tasks.

Significant progress towards meeting the police target is expected during the Swedish Presidency, and we will continue to work up to 2003. Our aim is to agree on quantitative as well as qualitative targets for civil protection, civil administration, and the rule of law at the latest in Göteborg. The Nice European Council invited the Swedish Presidency to implement all necessary measures to fulfill the mandate that was declared in Nice. On the basis of what I have just discussed, the Union will continue to develop and refine its structures, procedures, and capabilities, improving its ability to undertake demanding conflict-prevention and crisis-management tasks. Following the progress made so far, the Union soon will be able to operate on a case-by-case basis.


As we work to meet our goals, we need to keep our citizens informed. We also must promote the public's sense of involvement and its understanding of current and future decisions. Communicating the underlying rationale for those decisions is vital. Transparency and openness-especially towards our own citizens-are crucial aspects for progress and for consolidating EU crisis-management mechanisms.

Practically all EU countries are currently in the process of reforming their national defenses in order to meet post-Cold War challenges. Public debate is needed on the domestic front as well as within various EU contexts. We must encourage the movement towards a peaceful Europe capable of managing future crisis-management challenges. Some of these challenges may be in the Balkans again. The advent of democracy has enormously improved the situation in Croatia and Serbia but Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo still depend on a strong international military presence. Macedonia, which until now has been a parliamentary democracy, is in danger of erupting into complete civil war. Therefore our efforts may again be needed in the Balkans.

As Swedish Minister for Defense as well as a representative of the EU Presidency, I would like to see the European Defense and Security Policy as a project that is open to the discussion of all issues. We must therefore find ways to meet the Nice objectives of consultation and cooperation with the EU candidate countries and with the non-EU European NATO members. Our discussions must be relevant and substantive while guaranteeing transparency and inclusiveness to the maximum extent possible, and not jeopardize the decision-making autonomy of the Union. These efforts will pave the way for a smooth working environment in which we can cooperate with countries that are not EU members but are partners in crisis management.



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