Military CSDP

The quest for capability

Authored by: Sven Biscop , Jo Coelmont


Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415588287
eBook ISBN: 9780203098417
Adobe ISBN: 9781136226953


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In absolute terms and when taken as a bloc, the EU is the world’s second largest military actor, preceded only by the USA. In 2009 the 26 EU Member States that collectively participate in the European Defence Agency (EDA) spent €194 billion on defence, having some 1.67 million men and women in uniform (EDA, 2010). However, of that impressive overall number, only a small share is employable for expeditionary operations: a meagre 10 per cent or some 170,000 troops (Horvath, 2011: 57). Because of the need for rotation, the EU can sustain about one third of those in the field, so a rate of deployment of 60,000 to 70,000 troops is the maximum effort which in the current state of its capabilities and under normal circumstances the EU can sustain. This more or less equals the level of ambition of the Headline Goal (HG) adopted by the European Council in Helsinki in 1999. The aim is to be able to deploy up to an army corps (50,000 to 60,000 troops), together with air and maritime forces, plus the required command and control, strategic transport and other support services, within 60 days, and to sustain that effort for at least one year.

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