Lecture by Mr Jukka Valtasaari, Secretary of State: "European Security Issues", at the Yonsei University, Graduate School of International Studies, Soeul, 22th March 2001

Venue: The Yonsei University, Graduate School of International Studies
on Thursday, 22 March 2001,

Mr. Jukka Valtasaari,
Secretary of State,
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
of Finland

"European Security at the Beginning of the 21st Century: Recent Developments in the Common European Security and Defence Policy"

My remarks will concentrate on how security issues are seen in Europe, what is being done in the European Union in security and defence matters, and what this means in practice for the EU's role globally. I will also say a few words about Russia, which is an essential aspect of European security. And last, I am going to talk briefly about how confidence building was approached in the divided and tense atmosphere of Europe in the 1960s and 70s.

What is security in today's Europe?

The 20th century was tumultuous for Europe. Twice during the past century, Europe practically destroyed itself and dragged the world into devastating world wars; not to speak of other wars and conflicts it was involved in, both in and beyond Europe.

After the second world war, stability was produced by a combination of economic integration in Western Europe, security co-operation with the U.S., and a power balance between East and West based on nuclear weapons. The West experienced a period of growth and well-being, but the prospect of a destructive conflict with the East hung over divided Europe.

A little over ten years ago the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Berlin wall crumbled, Germany was united and the vision of a free and united Europe became conceivable.

Although Europe's new security order has not yet emerged, something can be said about the outlook. Today, an all-out war or even any inter-state war in Europe is most unlikely. There are no animosities or conflicts of interest that could lead to large-scale war. On the contrary, interests, economies and societies in Europe are increasingly intertwined. Integration is a reality.

But regional conflicts and ethnic strife did surface after the end of the cold war, and they still persist. But the spill-over of a military conflict to a wider European theatre has not been a real risk.

For today's Europeans, security threats are mostly elsewhere. Their sense of security is affected by nuclear hazards and environmental degradation, climate change, crime, drugs, epidemics, illegal immigration and other perils which do not respect national borders, and do threaten nations and citizens alike.

International cooperation is the only way to tackle these problems. For most European countries, the European Union is the main platform and the most effective tool in this respect.

The European Union and European Security

From the point of view of Europe's security, the enlargement of the European Union is a strategic proposition. Enlargement will project democracy, stability – and prosperity – eastwards, somewhat as the Marshall Plan did in the post-war years, albeit eastwards from across the Atlantic. EU enlargement is in fact a European security strategy for Europe.

Most countries in Central and Eastern Europe, now free to choose their destiny, consider membership of the EU as a method to anchor their societies to the European community in an irreversible manner, thereby increasing their security and transforming and reforming their economies. Enlargement will bring benefits to all, inside and outside the Union. After enlargement, the EU will also carry more economic and political weight in international relations.

The enlargement will proceed step by step, and for some applicant countries it will still take considerable time before they are ready to enter the Union. The first might be ready in a few years from now.

The EU represents a sui generis form of integration. In the EU, the member countries have pooled their sovereignty in many important areas. In trade and agriculture, the EU's joint policies totally override national policies. In other areas, such as legal and home affairs, a mixture of Union policies and national policies exists.

EMU is so far the most decisive step to deepen integration. Twelve EU countries have replaced their national currencies with the introduction of the common currency, the euro. This measure has a very concrete bearing on the EU's global role directly and indirectly. When the euro has established its position in the marketplace and when you can put it in your pocket early next year, it may become an alternative to the US dollar as a reserve currency.

Common European Security and Defence Policy

With the crumbling of the cold war structures, tensions that were previously at bay surfaced, sometimes violently. Ethnic hatred broke out, particularly in the Balkans. It was a humiliation for Europeans to see that they were unable to curtail these conflicts, which included brutal ethnic cleansing and violence against civilians that reminded us of the second world war.

The experiences from the Balkans were traumatic for Europeans and the European Union which was developing a new identity and new tools in common foreign and security policy. These efforts were boosted by the frustrations encountered in the Balkans. The Union definitely needed stronger instruments if it was to pursue its foreign and security policy goals of peace and stability.

Crisis management capabilities for the EU had already been addressed in a general way in the 1991 Maastricht treaty. An important step was taken in 1996 when Finland and Sweden jointly proposed that the Union treaty should include the so-called Petersberg tasks, which include humanitarian and rescue operations, peacekeeping and the use of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.

The Franco-British summit at St. Malo in 1998 was a turning point in the sense that the British fully endorsed and actively started to pursue the goal of developing crisis management capabilities for the European Union. Since then development has been rapid. Discussion moved from generalities and institutions toward creating a crisis management capability.

Crisis management capabilities

In the Cologne EU summit in June 1999 the leaders decided "to give the European Union the necessary means and capabilities to assume its responsibilities regarding a common European policy on security and defence". The Helsinki summit in December 1999 defined the requirements as follows: "To perform Petersberg tasks, the EU should have the autonomous capacity to take decisions and, where NATO as a whole is not engaged, to launch and then to conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crises in support of the Common Foreign and Security Policy".

In Helsinki, a programme of action was laid out which included setting a headline goal for the national and multinational military contributions from the member states. The Helsinki Headline Goal was an agreement on what the EU's rapid reaction force should look like. Member states must be able, by 2003, to deploy within 60 days and sustain for at least 1 year military forces of up to 50 000-60 000 troops capable of the full range of Petersberg tasks. Moreover, Collective Capability Goals were set for strategic assets and support systems such as command and control, intelligence and strategic transport. At the end of last year, a conference was held in which the member countries pledged their contributions to the Helsinki Headline Goal. The pledges totalled 100 000 troops, 400 combat aircraft and 100 naval vessels.

The size and strength of the headline goal was defined in such a manner that the EU would be able to lead an operation as demanding as the crisis management and peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.

The EU has established institutional structures to plan and manage the development of the rapid reaction force and the Union's response in a crisis situation. The Political and Security Committee, the Military Committee of chiefs of defence or other national military representatives, and working under its direction the Military Staff and a Situation Centre, have started functioning.

The EU concept also includes civilian crisis management capabilities. International experience has shown that civilian and military tasks must go hand in hand when recovering from a crisis. The EU is taking steps to improve its resources and preparedness in areas such as civilian police, the rule of law, civil administration and civil protection or rescue operations.

When, where and with whom?

The EU's crisis management capability is being developed with the purpose of complementing the Union's external capability and role. The EU would be able to deploy a range of instruments from diplomatic activity, humanitarian assistance and economic measures to civilian policing and military crisis management operations.

Today, NATO is in practice the only organisation which has the physical, logistical and command structures to carry out such complicated and massive operations as the ones in the Balkans. Eleven of the 15 EU member states are NATO members. The EU must work closely with NATO when building up its rapid reaction force. Work is under way to define the necessary modalities.

The United States has welcomed a stronger European role in crisis resolution. But Washington has emphasised, nonetheless, that the development of the Common European Security and Defence Policy must strengthen, not weaken, NATO by driving a wedge between the transatlantic partners. From this perspective, it is of capital importance to the US that the ESDP and NATO capabilities are planned in close cooperation and in a transparent manner. The US has been also concerned that the ESDP should produce additional resources. And the US has emphasised that the role of the non-EU NATO members (such as Turkey) should be taken into account.

The EU recognises the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security. EU operations would be decided upon by the member countries unanimously. Each member country would still make its sovereign decision on whether or not to participate with troops in an EU crisis management operation. For Finland, a mandate from the UN or the OSCE is a precondition for our participation in an operation. Moreover, participation in operations which entail coercive military actions is ruled out by Finnish law.

The Common European Security and Defence Policy is an inclusive project. The EU is putting in place consultation arrangements with countries outside the Union. The EU has taken into account the possible interest of third countries in contributing to EU crisis management tasks.

As far as the geographic scope of any possible EU operations is concerned, it is clear that the CESDP was initiated with recent experiences in the Balkans in mind. Member countries may have differing views on where the EU could or should be involved. Experience shows that needs are dictated by events on the ground rather than in the negotiating rooms of Brussels. Global deference is not on the cards.

What to make of it?

The Common European Security and Defence Policy is about crisis management. No territorial defence of the EU is created by the policy. Each member country has its own national security and defence arrangements. Eleven are members of NATO and have its collective security guarantees. Four member countries, including Finland, are not militarily aligned.

The EU treaty, however, includes a possibility that the development of the common defence policy might lead to a common defence, if the member countries so decide. That prospect is not close.

The CESDP does not in any way compete with NATO. The CESDP is a sign of an increasing European identity and role in security matters. It is a significant step, since it means that integration is reaching toward an area which national states have traditionally considered their own domain. The EU will not emerge as a global police or military power with a global reach. That is not the ambition of Europeans. The EU's global interests relate to economic and environmental issues as well as other factors contributing to stability.


Two processes are shaping the future of European security. Former Western Europe is reaching toward the East in its pursuit of bigger units and coalitions needed to achieve its geopolitical and economic objectives. The former large units in Eastern Europe, on the other hand, have split up and are reaching toward Western Europe and looking to the West in their aspirations. A third process, globalisation, is deeply influencing both East and West; the way societies operate, the way they can be governed and the way they are interdependent.

European security is not only about political reform or structures of the European Union. Future developments in the Russian Federation are a key part of the picture. Russia still has a huge task ahead in reforming itself, developing the rule of law, a sound economy, working democracy and respect for human rights. The goal seems to be clear, but development goes at different speeds, and sometimes in a variety of directions.

As far as Russia's role in the world is concerned, one thing is clear: Russia is far more western and northern a nation than the Soviet Union was. Close to half of its trade is with the EU. Russia is gradually taking note of the important and increasing role of the EU.

Russia has not objected to the enlargement of the EU to the former eastern bloc and the Baltic states. But it is still firmly opposing Nato's enlargement to the Baltic states.

Russia has showed interest in the CESDP. The EU is keeping Russia informed and Russia is one of the third countries with which modalities will be agreed upon on possible cooperation.

OSCE and ARF; experience of confidence building

When the OSCE process was initiated in the early 1970s, Europe was deeply divided into two hostile and heavily armed camps with some neutral or non-aligned nations in between. The OSCE aimed at lowering the dangerously high tensions on the continent. The question and status of divided Germany was one of the difficult issues to be tackled when starting the process.

The OSCE process offered a forum where the participating countries - all the countries of Europe plus the USA and Canada - could express their views on European security and issues affecting it. The principles that governed the discussion were equality - the voice of a small nation was heard alongside those of the bigger ones - and consensus in decision making. The issues were grouped in "baskets", emphasising the differing nature of the issues as well as their interdependence. Confidence building measures were introduced as a concept and started initially at a modest level with a commitment to exchange information about military exercises. Later, when strategic calculations were made, it was possible to proceed into considerably more sophisticated and instructive CBMs in the mid-1980s, with the adoption of on-site inspection. The CBMs actually changed the way security issues are handled in Europe. They played a part in auguring the events that led to the end of the iron wall in Europe.

The European experience may offer some interesting insights to other regions and organisations, such as the Asia Regional Forum. But it is self-evident that the situation in Asia is different from the one in Europe when the OSCE was created and developed. However, studying the OSCE and its activities in confidence building over the years, may assist in finding useful ideas and practices for adaptation to Asian realities.