European Union

Another participant in sustaining European security is the European Union (EU). The major attraction of the EU is based on its significant success at promoting economic integration and prosperity in Europe.

European Union flag

European Union flag

With 27 members (and another acceding country, Croatia), the EU includes almost half of the participating states of the OSCE. Five more states that also participate in the OSCE are candidates for EU membership, namely Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Since EU members and candidates tends to develop common positions as a bloc in OSCE, it has become a formidable factor in OSCE decision-making.

Common foreign and security policy

The European Union agreed on a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) with the 1991 Maastricht Treaty.

In the early 1990’s, the CFSP tended to consist more of common rhetoric and procedural actions than substance. Its limitations were perhaps best shown by its ineffective response to the crises in the former Yugoslavia after 1991, especially in Bosnia. Cooperation tended to be limited mostly to the adoption of joint positions on international issues. Within the OSCE, the EU generally made joint statements and adopted common positions on issues addressed by the Permanent Council as well as Ministerial and Summit Conferences.

However, in 1999 the EU began to give substantive content to the CFSP and to the creation of what is referred to as the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI).

In 1999, the EU created a “High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy” to present itself more visibly and effectively on the world stage.

In 2009, the EU upgraded its foreign and security structure, naming the UK's Cathy Ashton its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission (EC). This position combined the roles of the HRCFSP and the EC's External Relations Commissioner. At the same time, the selection of a low-profile person placed someone in the role who would not overshadow national leaders.


The EU has been limited in its ability to take a leading role in providing security for Europe in the post-Cold War period.

  • It is primarily an economic organization, and secondarily a political one, although it is clearly seeking to add security functions as well.
  • Its military capabilities and ability to project force outside its members’ borders are limited.
  • In contrast to the OSCE, neither Russia nor the U.S. are members.
EU Leverage

The EU is especially effective when it focuses on the dynamism of its economic integration, which serves as a magnet to all of the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

It is often essential for the OSCE to seek assistance from the EU, and other related financial institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, when confronting conflict situations that require a substantial influx of development assistance in order to alleviate some of the economic and social conditions that provided the environment for violent conflict to develop in the first place.

Support for OSCE

OSCE missions may also call upon the support of the EU when dealing with candidate countries seeking EU membership, several of which have had OSCE missions stationed on their territory. For example, the Estonian and Latvian efforts to meet the criteria for being placed high in the priority list for EU expansion probably encouraged their governments to cooperate more actively than they might otherwise have with OSCE demands regarding the treatment of their large minority of ethnic Russians.

High-level EU-OSCE Coordination

The EU troika and OSCE CiO meet annually for a political dialogue on regional security issues, most recently in October 2013.  OSCE CiO Kozhara noted their cooperation in the 5+2 Transdniestrian talks just held in Brussels, the Geneva discussions on Georgia, and their support for the Minsk process.

Monitoring and peacekeeping missions

 EC/EU Monitor Missions operated alongside NATO peacekeepers and OSCE missions (and alongside the UN force UNPROFOR/UNPREDEP during 1993-99) in Macedonia with related mandates. The EU police mission Proxima also operated in Macedonia from 2003 to 2005, and was followed by an EU Police Advisory Team (EUPAT).

In Bosnia and Herzegovina a somewhat complicated structure was established to implement the non-military provisions of the 1995 Dayton Agreement.

An EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) was established in 2005 to assist Moldova and Ukraine in controlling their border. It currently has about 100 EU police personnel.


Patrol by EUMM Field Office Gori. (EUMM)

The EU has deployed a 200-person civilian monitoring mission (EUMM) in Georgia to monitor the implementation of the 2008 ceasefire agreements. It is also tasked with monitoring the stabilization and normalization of the situation in the areas affected by the war, the deployment of Georgian police forces, and compliance with human rights and rule of law. Although its EU mandate provides for it to operate throughout Georgia, Russian military forces and secessionist authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia have rejected its entry into these areas.

EU in Kosovo

There are three EU organizations currently operating in Kosovo:

  • EU Special Representative (EUSR)
  • EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX)
  • European Commission Liaison Office (UCLO)
amuel ┼ŻBOGAR Head of the European Union Office in Kosovo /European Union Special Representative in Kosovo

Samuel Zbogar, Head of the European Union Office in Kosovo /European Union Special Representative in Kosovo. (European Union)

The Office of EU Special Representative (EUSR) Samuel Zbogar has a staff of 30. The EUSR offers advice and support to the Government of Kosovo on European integration; provides overall coordination for the EU presences in Kosovo; and contributes to the development and consolidation of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Kosovo.


The EU launched its largest civilian mission ever with the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) in 2008. The Mission’s mandate is a follow-on to the international presence in Kosovo contained in UN Security Council Resolution 1244, although this view is not accepted by Serbia or Russia. As it began its work, it effectively replaced functions of the UN Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) for the most part.

EULEX includes police, justice and customs components. It has certain executive responsibilities, and also carries out its mandate through monitoring, mentoring and advising. EULEX consists of about 1,700 EU staff and 1,200 local employees. It is co-located with Kosovo counterparts throughout Kosovo.

The Head of EULEX, Xavier de Marnhac, has visited Gates 1 and 31 at Jarinje and Brnjak together with Mr. Gilles Janvier, the Chief of Staff of the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), 27 October 2011/EULEX/Fitim Shala

The Head of EULEX, Xavier de Marnhac, visits Gates 1 and 31 at Jarinje and Brnjak together with Gilles Janvier,  Chief of Staff of the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability, 27 October 2011 (EULEX/Fitim Shala)

This EU role in Kosovo has been a continuing work in progress. EULEX has sought to define its role, authority and responsibilities as others did the same: the new Kosovo state, the Serb de facto authorities in north Kosovo and the enclaves (supported by Belgrade), as well as other international actors in Kosovo (like KFOR and OSCE), and what remains of UNMIK.

The EU Council decided in 2012 to extend EULEX's mandate until June 2014 while reducing its size by 25%.

Acting Head of ECLO  in Kosovo Khaldoun Sinno (ECLO)

Acting Head of ECLO in Kosovo Khaldoun Sinno (ECLO)

European Commission Liaison Office (ECLO), with Acting Head Khaldoun Sinno, has a staff of around 80. The ECLO provides project funding to strengthen institutions, develop the economy and help Kosovo realize European standards, and supports the Stabilization and Association process.

The two sides of overlapping mandates

In September 2012, the EU Special Representative, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the OSCE Media Freedom Representative presented to the BiH authorities two legal reviews of eight laws pertaining the Communications Regulatory Agency and the public service broadcasting system. The reviews include a set of recommendations and the EU and OSCE partners were prepared to assist the country in re-establishing a media framework that allows for politically and financially independent public service broadcasters and a broadcast regulator.

In contrast, conflicts between OSCE and EU mission members have also occasionally occurred where both institutions have overlapping mandates. One of the most essential tasks, therefore, of mission members may be to work out arrangements on the ground, particularly when divisions of responsibility have not been clarified formally or are ambiguous.