Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Barnier Report: Slow Step Towards A European State-Building Agency

Western operational capacities -- military and civilian -- are slowly being transformed so they can cooperate under tough circumstances, thus enabling global administration of the weakest parts of the state system. The Barnier report (more below) could be one step in this direction if it is implemented by the EU and its member states.

In the US, visionary strategist Thomas P. M. Barnett famously advocated splitting Pentagon up in two parts: A Department of War (the "Leviathan Force") and a "Department of Everything Else", where the latter should deal with all of the politically difficult Military Operations Other Than War, i.e. the long-lasting statebuilding and stabilization missions that will be essential to win the Long War, and secure the rest of the world's entry to Barnett's Core of globalization of the next 50 to 100 years. So far, this does not look set to happen within the Pentagon: DoD Directive 3000 does put the essential MOOTW capabilities of Stabilization and Reconstruction at par with Major Combat Operations (and calls for them to be integrated at all force levels). But the NSPD 44 on the other hand gives State Department the final responsibility for all coming statebuilding operations, thus effectively alleviating the theoretical pressure on Pentagon for real reform (more here on both). State's Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction (S/CRS) has the institutional baton, but few ressurces.

If the American policy system as such has moved forward on paper -- to some extent -- and with a top-down approach, the European Union has been busy for quite some time building capacities and moving foward on the area of civilian crisis management, including cooperation with military crises management structures. The EU will never replace NATO or become a military machine anywhere near the US in terms of major combat ops. But the civilian crises reponse area is closely connected to the general development and humanitarian policies of the (especially Northern) European countries and as such a area where the more pro-UN inclined European countries together might make a difference -- or at least inspire equivalent American progress.

J-M Barroso, President of the European Commisssion, has asked Michel Barnier (former Trade Commissioner, French Foreign Minister, and head of the French Amsterdam-treaty negotiation team) for a report on possible recommendations on a related subject: "For a European civil protection force: Europe Aid" was published early May. The report makes 12 recommendations for a strengthening of the European, civilian crisis management capacities. The most interesting of these is the creation of a common, uniformed but civilian protection force suited to act in a on a number of different scenarios, ranging from natural to man-made distasters (including terrorism) and both inside and outside of the EU.

This "force" has the potential to become the European version of the Department of Everything Else. Two possible arguments would go against that claim: 1) "Europe Aid" is purely civilian and have no guns or military capacities, 2) the envisioned scenarios do not explicitly include warlike conditions outside of Europe or long-term statebuilding and reconstruction proper, but is more couched in terms of protecting European citizens abroad (as a follow up on the tsunami-disaster). Ad 1): The intense work in progress on enhanced civil-military cooperation (or CIMIC) in both EU and NATO context will over time alleviate this problem. All NATO military actors involved in COIN and SR around the globe must by now have seen the necessity of a very enhanced CIMIC function.

Ad 2): If we rank the different scenarios or mission types in terms of increasing care for other people, rather than just protecting our own citizens, this ranking correlates completely with one going from disaster reponse over more broadly conceived humanitarian operations to complex emergencies, the most difficult of which are the statebuilding and reconstruction operations. Building a "European civil protection force" with even just a small long-range transport capacity for deployment outside of the EU is a logical first step; the resulting units will suddenly look very, very useful whenever the next stabilization crises comes along (or directly be called for to be sent to Afghanistan where NATO is in the middle of an important and extremely dangerous buildup).

The Barnier report thus builds on the recommendations of the Barcelona-report by Mary Kaldor and others in a useful, piecemeal way. Among the concrete recommendations is the founding of a common Operations Centre (with mostly coordinating functions) and a common/joint Training centre:
A Training Institute for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid would be set up. Its location would be chosen by the Council. It would provide training for staff and for the national and regional teams making up the European force and for the evaluation experts working for the EU. It would train the single reconnaissance teams (proposal 5). The Institute would also be open to NGOs, and on certain conditions to volunteers from among the public who possessed expertise that would be useful in assistance and rescue operations.

It follows from this proposal that given that Denmark has...

* extensive institutional experience with joint training through the SHIRBRIG-brigade
* huge operational CIMIC experience in the field with the ongoing operations in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere
* a concrete programme for cooperation and joint development of standards between the MFA and MoD (which, even if much less ambitious than it should be, at least has prepared the two ministries to cooperate)
* an accellerating programme for domestic civilian distaster response coordination and standardization which is located under the MoD
* a high level of belief and investment in the UN humanitarian operations (OCHA), including through funding to local but globally deployed NGOs

...Denmark should work hard to get to host this Training Institute. By definition the training is civilian; but some of the knowhow is military and the Danish institutional experience and setup makes it ideally suited to produce the civilian training, and at the same time prepare for further enhanced CIMIC ops. Furthermore, the Danish derogation on defense makes it impossible for Denmark to participate in EU military ops: supporting and running the civilian training centre would make it possible for Denmark to still play a substantial role in EUs security related activities. Over time, the derogation is expected to go, and so the centre could naturally take on further, more directly CIMIC related activities. Moreover, the Institute would fit with Denmark's active foreign policy profile in terms of both development and security politics as it does with the Danish state's generally ambitious responsibilities towards its own citizens at home as abroad. Finally, strengthening the EU capacity in this area is wholly in accordance with the Danish foreign policy in strengthened and reformed UN related capacities (the report calls for the force exhibit a dual subsidiarity, to member states and to the UN). Getting to host the Training Institute if it becomes reality would thus make sense on all levels for Denmark.


StockMark said...


Great observations about the Barnier Report and Denmark's potential role. A further question: what about Sweden, or Finland? Could the Training Institute be a Nordic cooperative, not unlike the new, virtual European Security and Defence College? That rotates cities.

The word on the street is that the Barnier Report will go nowhere. But that sentiment ignores something more important: the Report will keep the attention on civil protection, particularly the Commission's existing proposals to beef-up its civil protection capacities.

Last question: does Sweden have an opt-out from the EU's military tasks?

Keep up the good work

Mark from Stockholm

Draconian Observations said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks for responding! Of course it could be Nordic. Given other Nordic coop in defense and elsewhere plus the strong Nordic UN commitment, that would be an obvious choice. I just wrote it as a recommendation for the Danish MFA. The post, however, has been read widely - including in the relevant Bruxelles organizations and by 14 European MFA or equivalent IPs - but not the Danish :-)

As for the second question I am pretty sure that only Denmark has any derogations - the Edinburgh agreement was an explicit one-off.


PS: Comments have not been moderated due to an unfortunate pebkac error - until now.