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Cherry-picking within the Association Agreement – EU CSDP

November 19, 2014

Now and again it pays to wander back through the now ratified Association Agreement and Deep & Comprehensive Trade Agreement in an effort to gauge the distance that need be traveled by Ukraine to fully meet its obligations under this legal instrument.

Having got no further than Title II,  Article 7 – “Foregin and Security Policy”, a topical subject for Ukraine and Europe, one may perhaps wonder how – or why – Ukraine will meet its obligations to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), when that policy is all but defunct, alive only on paper, but for all practical purposes – in intensive care, if not quite dead.

Article 7  Foreign and security policy

1. The Parties shall intensify their dialogue and cooperation and promote gradual convergence in the area of foreign and security policy, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and shall address in particular issues of conflict prevention and crisis management, regional stability, disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and arms export control as well as enhanced mutually-beneficial dialogue in the field of space. Cooperation will be based on common values and mutual interests, and shall aim at increasing policy convergence and effectiveness, and promoting joint policy planning. To this end, the Parties shall make use of bilateral, international and regional fora.
EU/UA/en 17

Article 10  Conflict prevention, crisis management and military-technological cooperation

1. The Parties shall enhance practical cooperation in conflict prevention and crisis management, in particular with a view to increasing the participation of Ukraine in EU-led civilian and military crisis management operations as well as relevant exercises and training activities, including those carried out in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

At the very core of the CSDP – and why it fails in  its task:

The CSDP offers a framework for cooperation within which the EU can conduct operational missions in third countries. Specifically, the aims of these missions are peace-keeping and strengthening international security. They rely on civil and military assets provided by Member States.

Before the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, the tasks which could be carried out under the framework of the CSDP were:

humanitarian and rescue tasks;
conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks;
tasks of combat forces in crisis management.

The Treaty of Lisbon adds three new tasks to this list:

joint disarmament operations;
military advice and assistance tasks;
tasks in post-conflict stabilisation.

The Treaty of Lisbon acknowledges the potential intervention of multinational forces in the implementation of the CSDP. These forces are the result of the military alliance between certain Member States who have decided to combine their capacities, equipment and personnel strength. The main “Euroforces” are:

Eurofor, regrouping land forces between Spain, France, Italy and Portugal;
Eurocorps, regrouping land forces between Germany, Belgium, Spain, France and Luxembourg;
Euromarfor, regrouping maritime forces between Spain, France, Italy and Portugal;
the European Air Group, regrouping air forces between Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

All but still born many would say, particularly so as it becomes increasingly clear that both the EU and NATO can only work at the lowest common denominator due to reticent Member States amongst their number.  As written here many times, coalitions of the willing within (and perhaps without) of these organisations seem the only possible way to do anything more than the absolute minimum.

Whatever, Ukraine is now legally bound to its agreement involving the CDSP – which is perhaps terminally ill, outside of being anything other than a talking-shop and budgetary waste.   Nicholas Witney, a former head of the European Defence Agency stated only last month “the vaunted battle group rapid reaction forces are terminally discredited after the latest failures to deploy them in the Mali and Central African Republic crises.  

If the EU is not going to do anything with the CSDP, then stop pretending and give the UN some of the support it needs as it is struggling to sustain operations across the world.”

If you are wondering why the CSDP failed to act in the aforementioned cases in Africa – France effectively vetoed it – in both cases.

The only way to save the CSDP?  Article 44 of the Lisbon Treaty:

1. Within the framework of the decisions adopted in accordance with Article 43, the Council may entrust the implementation of a task to a group of Member States which are willing and have the necessary capability for such a task. Those Member States, in association with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, shall agree among themselves on the management of the task.

2. Member States participating in the task shall keep the Council regularly informed of its progress on their own initiative or at the request of another Member State. Those States shall inform the Council immediately should the completion of the task entail major consequences or require amendment of the objective, scope and conditions determined for the task in the decisions referred to in paragraph 1. In such cases, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions.

There is no definition of a “task” in the Lisbon Treaty, and Article 44 is not specifically aimed at the CSDP either.  But what Article 44 does seemingly provide for is – a coalition of the willing – whatever any such “task” may be.

And so, back to Ukraine and its obligations under the Association Agreement, and by extension, to the CSDP.  Clearly, whilst the CSDP remains alive on paper, Ukraine is legally obliged to fulfill its commitments with the necessary integrity international instruments demand – even if in doing so it is clearly wasting political energy and time that could be better spent meeting other requirements of the agreements.

However, to ignore Article 7 and Article 10 and begin cherry-picking amongst its now ratified obligations to the EU and its Member States, then sets one off on a slippery slope of implementing only the parts Ukraine particularly likes or deems worthwhile, at the expense of other less favoured Articles that probably need to be adhered to, even if not liked, for the benefit of Ukraine.

There is a lot of decent stuff in the Association Agreement regarding frameworks to follow for Ukraine to meet the democratic aspirations of the nation.  How much stuff of dubious future worth, such as the CSDP, is also contained within the agreement is probably rather subjective – yet it will devour political energy just the same.

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