The EU needs a continent of pooling and sharing for its security – not only little islands

The EU needs a continent of pooling and sharing for its security – not only little islands

The analyses of the effectiveness of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) – crisis management operations, implemented by the IECEU-project, also researched the current initiatives of pooling and sharing of capabilities (P&S) and how it is perceived at mission level. Firstly, an extensive desk research has been conducted, to uncover what initiatives are ongoing at EU-level and national level. It was followed by eight case studies in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia have been reviewed, covering 15 CSDP crisis management missions.

The results of this research are listed in the 6.1 Standardisation Review, that looked at training initiatives, common procurement initiatives as well as how P&S is perceived at mission/operation level. Three standardised questions were asked in all 15 researched CSDP crisis management operations (of which ten are civilian and five are military):

  1. whether when establishing the mission pooling and sharing had been considered;
  2. how did the pooling and sharing work in the field; was it considered, and;
  3. were there existing practices of pooling and sharing (if any).

At statistical level, 8 out of 15 crisis management operations have recorded findings in terms of pooling and sharing. However, six of these operations reported there was no P&S activities, which means that there are only two positive findings for P&S at crisis management operations level. More specifically, the two recorded positive findings for practices of P&S are for the CSDP-missions EUFOR RCA and EULEX Kosovo.

In terms of what is pooled and shared, both crisis management operations display different results. EUFOR RCA pooled and shared airlift capacity, which makes sense as it is a scarce and expensive resource. The EULEX Kosovo mission shows more complex findings for pooling and sharing, as it mentioned different points, such as transfer of staff, mission support, standard operating procedures and sharing / joint use of resources. This could be partly explained by the length of the mission (9 years), giving more time to develop pooling and sharing initiatives.

These results have to be taken with caution, as factors such as timeframe (P&S was developed from 2010 onwards and thus does not fully apply to missions and operations that had been launched before that date) and links with the planning level (P&S at operations level depends on a large scale on previous planning and capability development. If there is already little pooling and sharing at those levels, it logically drops down to mission level).

The findings of P&S were discussed during an IECEU-policy dialogue held on 27 March 2017, in Brussels, with relevant stakeholders of EU institutions, member states, NGOs and academia. During the debate, the warning was expressed that pooling and sharing is not only about financial (saving) aspects, but also about what is available. Member states can only pool and share what they do have. Pooling and sharing is thus not replacing non-existing capabilities.

The discussion further on uncovered that much has been done in the military domain by projects led by European Defence Agency, however, it seems that the current trend is focusing on many small initiatives but lacking an overall approach. A broader understanding of the added value of joining forces and working stronger together among EU member states could be beneficial. To put it more strongly, there is a need for a continent of Pooling and Sharing and not many little islands of Pooling and Sharing in the European Union.

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Author: Mascia Toussaint