European Union

Another contender for a role in 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.

EU flag

EU flag

With 27 members, the EU includes almost half of the participating states of the OSCE. Three more states that also participate in the OSCE are listed as candidates for EU membership, namely Croatia, Montenegro and Turkey. Since the EU tends to vote together as a bloc in the 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. Javier Solana, a former NATO Secretary General and Spanish Foreign Minister, currently holds the position.


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, although it is clearly seeking to add security functions as well.
  • Its military capabilities and ability to project force outside its members’ borders have been limited.
  • In contrast to the OSCE, neither Russia nor the U.S. are members.
Effective function

The EU is especially effective when it focuses 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.

The EU has often worked alongside the OSCE on such important activities as election monitoring and post-conflict reconstruction activities, such as those in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

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.

Monitoring and peacekeeping missions

In The Former Yugoslav Reoublic of Macedonia (FYROM), EC/EU Monitor Missions operated alongside NATO peacekeepers and OSCE missions (and alongside the UN force UNPROFOR/UNPREDEP during 1993-99) 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 to assist Moldova and Ukraine in controlling their border in 2005. It currently has about 100 EU police personnel.

The EU has deployed a 200-person civilian monitoring mission (EUMM) in Georgia to monitor the implementation of the 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 their entry into these areas.


The EU launched its largest civilian mission ever with the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) on February 16, 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. It effectively began its work, and thereby replacing the UN Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) for the most part, on December 9, 2008.

EULEX includes police, justice and customs components. It has certain executive responsibilities, and also carries out its mandate through monitoring, mentoring and advising. EULEX’s planned size is 1,900EU staff and 1,100 local employees. It is co-located with Kosovo counterparts throughout Kosovo.

The new EU role in Kosovo is a work in progress. EULEX is seeking to define its role, authority and responsibilities as others as others do 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.

EULEX also works under the authority of the International Civilian Office, which became the primary international party in Kosovo following its declaration of independence in 2008; the ICO is headed by Pieter Feith as the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo and the International Civilian Representative. The ICO was originally intended to replace UNMIK altogether, but the transition has not taken place, given that Serbia and others have refused to accept this change.