Center for Strategic Decision Research


The Results of the Cologne Summit

His Excellency Alex Bodry
Minister of Defense of Luxembourg


Following closely on the heels of the NATO Washington Summit, the European Union’s Cologne Summit, and the enforcement of the Amsterdam Treaty, the XVIth NATO Workshop on Political-Military Decision Making fits perfectly into the process envisaged by the Euro-Atlantic community for framing the European Security and Defense Identity. In addition to the Workshop, this process has also been enriched by the Saint-Malo Declaration, the WEU’s Bremen Ministerial Meeting, and by two meetings in which EU Defense Ministers met with colleagues from European countries that are not members of the Union.

Through these events, the first pieces of the “grand design” for framing the European identity have been put on the board—in an orderly, transparent, and consensual way that has resulted from constructive cooperation among the nations concerned.

The full design will not be completed for some time—the Cologne Summit estimated the end of the year 2000. But though much institutional and operational work is yet to be done, the political momentum reached in the first six months of 1999 should be fully explored and exploited.


I have been asked to speak on the subject of ESDI, or, more precisely, on the planned European Common Security and Defense Policy as seen through the eyes of the incoming Luxembourg President of the Western European Union. I shall of course indicate some of the main topics of our program, but they will not be my main focus here. Rather, I shall address the results of the recent Cologne Summit since the bulk of the Western European Union’s future up to the year 2000 has been determined by previous decisions made by the European Union and, indirectly by the Alliance, particularly at its Washington Summit. I would like to make two points in that regard.

The WEU Perspective

First, the Berlin and Brussels decisions on eventually allowing the use of NATO assets for European-led operations were made with the assumption that the Western European Union would implement the process. This understanding was enhanced on the European side by the Amsterdam Treaty provisions stipulating that the WEU was to provide the EU with access to operational capabilities. The Western European Union has always understood that one of its core functions is to act as a bridge between the European Union and NATO. The Alliance and the WEU have devoted much energy over the last years to this very function, and have made considerable progress.

As you all know, the Washington Summit made this bridging function superfluous. The Alliance has decided to directly cooperate with the European Union. The mechanisms that now exist for consultation, cooperation, and transparency between NATO and the WEU are to be built upon consultation, cooperation, and transparency between the Alliance and the EU. One of the major tasks of our incoming Presidency is to make further progress in that area.

In regard to this new, direct relationship, the Washington Declaration explicitly includes the possibility of EU access (but no further WEU access) to Allied means for EU-led operations. It states that we are “ready to define and adopt the necessary arrangements for ready access by the European Union to the collective assets and capabilities of the Alliance, for operations in which the Alliance as a whole is not engaged militarily as an Alliance.” These new developments between NATO and the European Union preclude us from speaking on ESDI matters from a WEU perspective alone.

The European Union Position

My second point also encourages our adoption of a larger and more integrated perspective than the perspective of the WEU alone. It is based on the Amsterdam Treaty itself and on the new decisionmaking power that the heads of states and governments have acquired to define the principles, general guidelines, and common strategies for the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The treaty states that the European Council is competent to define the policy to be carried out by the WEU.

Any attempt to distinguish between a WEU and an EU approach to a Common European Security and Defense Policy would be most artificial and, above all, not in keeping with the political facts of life. This is underlined in paragraphs of Article 17 of the Amsterdam Treaty that provide for the possibility of framing in a progressive way a common defense policy that might lead to a common defense “should the European Council so decide,” and that also provide for the possibility of the integration of the WEU into the Union “should the European Council so decide.” The Vienna and Cologne Summits also confirmed that major decisions are to be made first by the EU and endorsed later by the WEU. The task of the Luxembourg Presidency of the WEU regarding ESDI will therefore be operational rather than conceptual and political.

With that in mind, you will understand why I want to speak on ESDI from a Cologne point of view rather than from a Bremen one; in NATO language, they are neither separable nor separate any longer. However I would first like to make a general remark regarding the concept of defense.

Under the Maastricht Treaty, the concept of defense within the context of European institutions was somewhat confused. This state of affairs certainly contributed during the second half of this decade to suspicion between Europeans and some Allies as to what the concept really involved and the outcome that was intended. It also halted European progress in the defense realm.

With the Amsterdam Treaty, the situation became clearer, encouraging breakthroughs in Saint-Malo, Washington, and Cologne. Article 17 of the Amsterdam Treaty clearly restricts issues of common defense policy to “humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.” It is under this conceptual framework that the Cologne Summit developed its new reflections and decisions pertaining to the strengthening of the Common European Policy on Security and Defense.


One of the EU’s decisions was to position itself not only as a commercial and an economic power, but also as a major political player. To that end, it demonstrated in Cologne an enhanced political resolve to play its full role on the international stage. The Summit gave the European Union the means and capabilities it needs to assume its responsibilities to strengthen the Common Foreign and Security Policy and to render it more credible. The Summit did not make decisions regarding collective defense.

As it works on developing the CFSP, the EU will also strive to develop its diplomatic and economic policies and intervention possibilities through robust operational capabilities. To do so, the Council must be able to make and implement decisions on the full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks, the so-called Petersberg tasks, defined in the Amsterdam Treaty. It should also be able to ensure political control and the strategic direction of EU-led Petersberg operations.

To that end, the EU will need situational-analysis capability, intelligence sources, and the ability to perform relevant strategic planning. In order to carry out the decisionmaking process, the Union may also need to:

  • Hold regular (or ad hoc) meetings of the General Affairs Council that include Defense Ministers as appropriate
  • Establish a permanent body in Brussels that consists of representatives who have political-military experience, i.e., a Political/Security Committee
  • Form an EU Military Committee that consists of military representatives who make recommendations to the permanent body
  • Create an EU military staff with a Situation Center
  • Develop other resources as needed, for instance, a Satellite Center.

Despite their need, the Cologne Summit did not establish an institutional framework to develop these committees and resources. The Summit limited itself to requiring the General Affairs Council to prepare the modalities for incorporating into the EU the WEU functions the EU will need to fulfill its new responsibilities regarding the Petersberg tasks, which should be done by the end of the year 2000. At that point, the European Council stated, “ … the WEU as an organization would have completed its purpose.”

The Cologne Summit also discussed the fact that member-states need to develop additional forces (including headquarters) that are suited to crisis management operations, and to do so without unnecessary duplication. The main characteristics of these forces would be deployability, sustainability, interoperability, flexibility, and mobility.

The Cologne Summit also came to one main conclusion, which I would like to strongly underline: “For the effective implementation of EU-led operations, the European Union will have to determine, according to the requirements of the case, whether it will conduct EU-led operations using NATO assets and capabilities, or EU-led operations without recourse to NATO assets and capabilities."

It also issued guidelines as to the use of national or multinational means in cases of “autonomous” operations, but I will not comment on these. More important to discuss, in the context of our panel, are the precise policy principles for EU-led operations that will have recourse to NATO assets and capabilities, including European command arrangements. These cover: the implementation of the Berlin and Washington decisions; assured EU access to NATO planning capabilities that are able to contribute to military planning for EU-led operations; the presumption of availability to the EU of pre-identified NATO capabilities and common assets for use in EU-led operations.

In this context, the Cologne Summit also addressed some of the problems that have resulted from the differences in memberships and status among the members of the Alliance, the European Union, and the Western European Union as they relate to the successful creation of a European Policy on Security and Defense. Some of these issues are:

  • 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 that are not EU member-states to be fully involved in EU-led operations, building on existing consultation arrangements within WEU
  • Arrangements to ensure that all participants in an EU-led operation will have equal rights during the operation, while adhering to EU’s decision-making autonomy, notably the right to discuss and decide matters of principle and policy.


Let me add a last word concerning our upcoming WEU Presidency. Security cannot allow a vacuum. Therefore, the Western European Union must remain fully operational until its crisis prevention and management mechanisms are transferred to the Union. As I have already indicated, WEU-NATO relations must be continued as long as there is still the need to do so. After the current President’s task of “auditing” the WEU’s capacities in that area, we will focus the “audit” on national and multinational forces, and, we hope, lead the Permanent Council to determine necessary future changes.

All future Presidents will have to keep the WEU’s house in order as long as it stands. They will have to continue the duty of handing over to the European Union a valid and valuable defense legacy. While the European Union has no “defense culture’ and no experience nor expertise in that area, the following WEU Presidents will have to see to it that, at the moment of hand-over, the European Union does not have to start from scratch in the defense field. Relations between the WEU and NATO might well prove the most valuable treasure of the inheritance.


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