NATO’s Lisbon summit led to calls from Turkey for a right to consultations on the EU’s CSDP, while EU officials retorted that it is impossible for Ankara to have any say in the planning of EU military missions (EUObserver, November 21). Although there are some channels of influence for third countries participating in the CSDP, Ankara should not get their hopes up as regards formally influencing the Union’s security and defence policy.
It should not come as a surprise that the EU does not want non-members to take part in its decision-making processes. The EU wants autonomy, leaving third countries with limited chances for influence even when they contribute to EU missions.
A reason for the Turkish wish for more influence is the country’s former relationship with the WEU. The challenge with the WEU was that third countries before could be associated members, providing them with more rights than is the case now. This worry from the part of European third countries gained importance with the Maastricht treaty, which set out the possibility for future defence cooperation in the EU. One fear was that the EU should take on tasks that had before belonged to NATO – where these EU non-members had influence as NATO members.
Interestingly, this did not hinder third countries to contribute to the developing CSDP. Furthermore, new arrangements for consultation were set up to include third countries, but they gave few or no possibilities to influence on decisions concerning crisis management. So why did they still choose to contribute, even more than had been the case before? One possible explanation is of course that some influence is better than having nothing at all. However, the formal channels for doing so are minimal.
So, what are then the channels Ankara could rely on when trying to influence the CSDP? Three different options are worth looking into, hereunder formal, informal and military channels, where Ankara can come in contact with the CSDP.
Third countries’ formal links to the CSDP are limited, since they do not take part in the everyday running of the CSDP within the Council. This limits their possibility to influence the processes in their early phases. Being called into the process at a later stage might also limit their say, since important (and decisive) steps in the decision-making process have already taken place. As regards the overarching guidance of the CSDP, defence ministers may be invited to meetings in the Troika format four times a year, together with the other members of this format. Meetings take place after those of the EU defence ministers, giving non-members a chance to be consulted on issues regarding the CSDP, and to put forward its views on relevant issues.
Another formal channel is that related to participation in CSDP missions through contributors’ committes. Here, contributing third-countries participate on an equal footing with other countries carrying the load, with regular meetings about the status of the process and where third countries can pose questions and come with input as regards the practical conduct of missions. That influence must be sought through this format is relevant, since, arguably, if you contribute with resources you also get to decide on how a mission shall be carried out. However, and here is the problem, contributors’ committees are only set up after decisions on a Joint Action is taken by the EU. Thus, the scope and the mandate of the mission is already defined, leaving no influence for participating third-countries.
For non-members, formal links must be supplemented with informal ones. Informal channels can refer to contact that takes place on a day-to-day basis among third country officials, EU officials and officials of other countries that contribute to the CSDP. What happens here is exchange of information and documents, and if a third country sees problems or challenges with its participation in the CSDP, their officials can arguably take this with the relevant officials on the EU side. This is perhaps also how the most important information exchange happens. The EU is furthermore becoming more interested in inviting third countries for informal discussions before taking decisions to launch operations. This is done to get knowledge about the potential for force generation and happens mostly through the PSC. This is of course important for the EU, knowing the challenges faces regarding force generation, but for third-countries wanting to participate in a mission, early meetings are of also of the good.
This channel refers to third country personnel being part of CSDP missions and coooperating closely with other participating personnel. An indirect form of influence also comes on the ground. If Turkey is to contribute to a mission this happens on an (sort of) «equal footing» with the EU member states, and then its personnel on the ground can influence the daily practice as do others. This can be said to be relevant for missions where the Turkish personnel bring with them national standards and ways of solving problems. However, the argument of being on an equal footing in EU-led missions must be nuanced. Third countries will have a hard time getting the most profiled positions in CSDP operations, although they may have personnel with the experience needed to hold such positions.