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Strengthening ESDP: the EU's approach to international security

18 September 2008

In December 2007, the European Council decided to review the implementation of the European Security Strategy adopted in 2003. Further to the Council’s decision, the EUISS launched a project addressing European Interests and Strategic Options to foster debate within the EU. Following earlier seminars in Rome and Natolin, the seminar in Helsinki was the third seminar in this exercise and focused on the EU’s security and defence policy (ESDP).

The EU's security and defence policy is primarily a crisis management policy, helping prevent conflict and rebuild societies emerging from war. As a result, the EU approach to international security is broad, with the intention to use a wide range of tools from diplomats and development workers to judges and police, and – where necessary – soldiers. This is because today’s threats, such as terrorism or collapsing states, cannot be addressed using only, or even predominantly, military means. Reflecting this approach ESDP operations have, for the most part, mixed civil and military resources.

Participants in Helsinki discussed a number of questions, including:
How should EU governments prioritise their security challenges?

  • How to improve ESDP tools, capabilities and financing?
  • How can the EU make more coherent use of different policy instruments?
  • How can the EU work more effectively with other security organisations such as the UN, NATO and the OSCE?

The seminar was organised in cooperation with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Finland and Sweden addressed the seminar.