IECEU identified operational capacity as leadership, training, organisational structures and decision-making processes, human resources, technologies, mission funding, culture, security, housing and procurement.

Operational capability of the CSDP missions and operations usually strongly depends on both internal and external factors – external factors depending strongly on the specifics of the country where the mission functions, like the political situation in the country, stability, key counterparts, general living and working environment etc. Obviously, the EU-internal factors regarding the operational capability of the missions and operations are very dependent on other capabilities as well – such as planning, interoperability, comprehensiveness. Some interesting observations have been made about the lack of the common understanding of the EU best practices, the need for the improved pre-deployment training of the staff, the lack of information sharing between NATO and non-NATO contributing states on the EU CSDP operations as well as the need to improve the communication between the Brussels and the field.

Commonly noticed complications revolved around staffing including personnel rotations, which are too short and leeway in the way standardized handover procedures were used preventing the effective functioning of the mission. The short tours of the EU missions’ personnel – usually six months to one year – create a great challenge to the continuity and general effectiveness of the missions. It takes a new staff member and estimated 1–2 months to learn the tasks and counting also the annual leave, sick leave etc. means that actual effective deployment is very limited. There are only few tools developed that would enable better usage of this short period. Handovers between in and out-personnel are an essential tool for resolving this problem. Despite regular rotation there is no systematic, clear and consistent handover procedure in place between the outgoing and incoming personnel, to ensure smooth transition and quicker continuation of activities – meaning that the incoming personnel needs to invest long lime to find out what has been done so far. Even if the handovers structures are in place, the handover procedure depends very much on individuals, and the absence of consistency is felt.

In the same field of human resources, the lack of appropriate measures to deal with misconducts was identified. However, the responsibility over the administrative and penalty matters, namely in terms of human resources, and consequences of individual’s international personnel misbehaviour during the operation, remain within the national states.

Some issues in operational capacity that could be effectively addressed represent short rotations and the lack of the standardized and strictly implemented handover procedures, misconducts and lack of direct channels for reporting. However, there are some key findings that overlap with planning capacity, comprehensiveness and interoperability:  for example, the need for improvement of pre-deployment trainings, communication and information sharing, as well as the identification and usage of the EU best practices that would enable the transfer of knowledge between the rotating staff.