EU as a global actor based on the wider Petersberg tasks

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FOCUS five Big Themes

The international system in the 2035 timeframe will be rather different from the current one. It will be more heterogeneous and hybrid than can be anticipated by short-term extrapolation. The scope of change will depend mostly on developments in several main domains and the interplay between the external environment of the Member States and the European Union as well as domestic social and political demands.

The Petersberg tasks were originally intended to guide conventional force planning. They are now part of the Treaty on European Union and include “joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilization. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories.” (Article 43.1) Their objective is to give the EU operational capacity based on both civilian and military assets, both provided by the Member States. This capacity is for use outside the Union for the purposes of peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening of international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. By themselves, the Petersberg tasks therefore do not constitute a global security role for the Union. Their future usability and usefulness will depend on a proper addressing of possible EU roles with global consequences, and of future strategic challenges that are different from traditional ones, requiring different capabilities.

The dramatic expansion of the EU’s direct involvement in security affairs in recent years leads to expect EU future endeavours to act across the range of the Petersberg tasks. Any related concept of the EU as a global actor should heed the basic EU characteristics in order to provide the most relevant package of concepts and capabilities to every particular case of engagement for security. Actions undertaken in a one-sided way could, while maximizing one type of effect, damage the most positive one: the Union’s social attractiveness. The application of the comprehensive approach should thus not be understood as a practice only, but also as a conceptual ground for an EU acting globally to deliver security to its citizens.

Challenges for security research#

The 2008 implementation review of the European Security Strategy (2003) stressed that the Union now disposed of an unmatched repertory of instruments and activities to foster human security and address underlying causes of insecurity and conflict. Based on this, the EU should contribute to renewing multilateralism at the global level, which includes better cooperation with NATO in crisis management. Nevertheless, a number of recently published scenarios on the future of the EU as a global actor bring forward widely differing alternatives of the political and institutional framework in which decisions on possible further ‘widening’ of the Petersberg tasks will be made.

As an illustration, the instruments of EU global roles may include increased justice and law enforcement capabilities; increased EU intelligence and early warning capabilities; financial instruments for influencing economic developments on a global scale; technological, productivity-enhancing, and transportation instruments in order to maintain a leading role in the most advanced areas of global economy; good governance and institution building, including in security sectors; or civil society-related and cultural instruments, including public information, media, social networks, etc.

Future concepts of a global security role for the EU will require even more than present ones that the Unions’ security posture (strategic orientation plus capabilities) and its internal decision-making framework match. Future security research could address corresponding capability-related challenges, such as the following: capabilities that can impact from any distance (advanced drones, other advanced robotics systems, strategic cyber capabilities, space capabilities, etc.); capabilities that can disrupt external EU lifelines (energy, communication, etc.); changing economic and financial leverage that can have negative or positive impacts on security challenges to the EU; challenges that result from differentials in the EU’s wider neighbourhood (population, age, employment, competence, etc.).

Top-3 challenges as identified in FOCUS horizon scanning#

  • Regional conflicts outside the EU
  • Radicalization in the broader EU neighbourhood
  • Migration and poverty

Full problem space report#

Deliverable 6.1

Related scenarios#

Reference scenario#

Scenarios for "EU 2035" roles and futuristic missions #

Scenarios for "Security Research 2035"#

Table of topics and necessary disciplines for a European security research agenda, responsive to the “EU 2035” role scenarios

Expected key technologies in the scenario space of this Big Theme#

  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Image processing equipment
  • IT intelligence: web search instruments

Requirements for IT-based knowledge management in the scenario space#

  • Knowledge management and knowledge integration, in particular relating to comprehensive situational awareness
  • Crowdsourcing of technology opportunities/possibilities vs. citizens’ needs
  • Platform for crisis communication
  • Platform to support crisis management (e.g., knowledge-based decision support)
  • Platform for education and training of decision-makers and first responders

Common analytical framework matrix (CAFM)#

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