The Swedish EU Presidency

One of the EU objectives is to work for global peace and security. Consequently, the EU is developing its ability to do so, including the capability to conduct comprehensive
operations with both military and civilian components. The Swedish Presidency continued to develop the EU crisis management capability.

As the presiding country, Sweden was responsible for leading the EU, and in defence policy the following areas were given extra high priority:

  • Usability
  • Capability development
  • Operations

The EU Battlegroups - how to increase their usability

The EU Battlegroups are an effective and unique instrument for rapid reaction operations. However, no EU Battlegroup has yet been used. Given this, the Swedish Presidency opened up for a political discussion on a more flexible view on their use.

Member States are responsible for organising Battlegroups and make them available for the EU, in rotating six month periods. There are always two Battlegroups on simultaneous standby, providing the EU with a tool for rapid crisis management. Quickly suppressing an emerging crisis or conflict, to prevent further escalation, is an important task for the EU Battlegroups. When a Battlegroup has fulfilled its task, more long-term measures can be implemented.

The Presidency successfully proposed that the Battlegroups would be made available for other than rapid reaction operations.

Capability development

The primary objective of the EU capability development is to identify capabilities needed to enable the EU to contribute to peace and security. The EU Member States decide individually the extent of their participation in multinational capability development. The Swedish Presidency boosted the ongoing work.

Areas discussed were:

  • Civil-military capability development
  • Maritime surveillance.

Civil-military capability development

When planning military operations and civilian missions a long-term strategy for rebuilding the country must be developed in parallel. Sustainable peace requires functioning institutions under democratic control, such as police and justice systems. When operations and missions are conducted simultaneously in an area their combined effect increases with good interaction.

The Presidency initiated a discussion on how coordination of the EU civilian and military capabilities can be further developed. Basically this involves avoiding unnecessary duplication and finding common civil-military solutions. Examples are transport and logistics, protection and co-locating civilian and military headquarters.

Maritime surveillance

The Swedish Presidency supported a close and transparent
cooperation between civilian and military maritime surveillance, and worked on improving these factors. The objective is to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort and to improve overall efficiency.

In this context the Swedish Presidency emphasised the importance of building as far as possible on existing systems and initiatives which are linked together, so as to achieve better situation awareness.
Continued close cooperation between Member States and relevant EU institutions is consequently of great value.

The gains to be made from a more integrated maritime surveillance are:

  • Safer and more effective shipping
  • A better marine environment
  • A better ability to discover and act against various threats in and against the maritime environment


One of the purposes of the European Security and Defence Policy is to enable Member States to jointly contribute to operations aimed at promoting peace and security.
The need for a common EU response to conflicts or crises became clear during the Balkan wars, when the EU was unable to take military action because it lacked the right tools. But much has happened since then and several military operations have been carried out under the EU flag, mainly in Africa.

One of these operations is the current maritime operation Atalanta, off the coast of Somalia, where one of the objectives is to protect UN food shipments from piracy. The population of Somalia is suffering badly from hunger and in many cases the UN programmes are their only
lifeline.Under the Swedish Presidency the decision to extend Atalanta was made.

The long-standing operation ALTHEA and EU's continued military presence in Bosnia and Hercegovina, was also be discussed. Here however, no decision on withdrawal was made.