EU cooperation on security and defence

Council of the EU

At the Bratislava Summit of September 2016, the 27 leaders of the EU decided to give a new impetus to the European external security and defence: in a challenging geopolitical environment, the EU cooperation on external security and defence will be strengthened. 

They set as a target the December European Council to decide on a concrete implementation plan on security and defence and on how to make better use of the options in the Treaties, especially as regards capabilities, and decided to start implementing the joint declaration with NATO immediately. 

Delivering on this commitment, the European Council will discuss a security and defence package at its December meeting comprised of three elements: 

  • the implementation plan of the EU global strategy on security and defence and Council conclusions on implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence
  • proposals to increase cooperation between EU and NATO, implementing the Joint declaration by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg in its 7 areas
  • the European Defence Action Plan proposed by the European Commission, to increase research and capabilities, as well as competitiveness through a better functioning internal market


24 March 2017

EU-NATO cooperation: informal meeting between Political and Security Committee and North Atlantic Council

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) and the North Atlantic Council (NAC) met to discuss EU-NATO cooperation, in particular the implementation of the Joint declaration signed by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and NATO Secretary-General in Warsaw in July 2016, materialising in the common set of proposals endorsed by the respective Councils of both organisations in December 2016.

Both EU and NATO Ambassadors expressed strong will to take the EU-NATO partnership forward, focusing on concrete and practical cooperation.

6 March

Council reviews progress and agrees to improve support for military missions

The Council adopted conclusions setting out the progress achieved in implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence.

The Council also approved a concept note on the operational planning and conduct capabilities for CSDP missions and operations. One of the measures foreseen is the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC) for the planning and conduct of non-executive military missions. 


15 December

European Council stressed the need to strengthen Europe's security and defence

The European Council reaffirmed its commitment to the European Union Internal Security Strategy 2015-2020.  It addressed the strengthening of EU cooperation on external security and defence and  focused on the three priorities

  • the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence
  • the European Defence Action Plan
  • implementation of the common set of proposals which follow up on the EU-NATO Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw in July 2016  

6 December

Common set of proposals to implement the EU-NATO joint declaration

The Council adopts conclusions on the Implementation of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration, endorsing 40 proposals in the 7 areas. These proposals are endorsed on the same day by the North Atlantic Council. 

30 November

European Defence Action Plan presented by the European Commission

European Defence Fund and other actions aim to support member states' more efficient spending in joint defence capabilities, strengthen European citizens' security and foster a competitive and innovative industrial base.

14 November

Implementation plan on security and defence

EU foreign and defence ministers discuss the implementation plan on security and defence under the EU global strategy. They set out the level of ambition and  the way forward on the future development of EU security and defence policy.

8 July

Signature of the EU-NATO joint declaration

At the NATO summit in Warsaw, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and NATO Secretary-General sign a joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation. 

The declaration aims to further strengthen EU-NATO cooperation at a time of unprecedented security challenges from the East and the South. 

28 June

Presentation of the European Union global strategy

High Representative Federica Mogherini presents the EU global strategy on foreign and security policy to EU leaders, meeting in Brussels at the EU summit.  

The High Representative was mandated to prepare the new strategy by the European Council in June 2015. The strategy, under the title 'Shared vision, common action: a stronger Europe' reflects the collective views expressed in the process and offers a strategic vision for the EU's global role. In these challenging times, both for Europe and globally, the strategy highlights common ground and presents a way forward.


20 December

Priority actions for defence set out

For the first time since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council discusses defence and identifies priority actions for stronger cooperation: 

  • increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of Common Security and Defence Policy
  • enhancing the development of capabilities
  • strengthening Europe's defence industry


1 December

The Treaty of Lisbon comes into force. The CSDP succeeds the ESDP

The Treaty of Lisbon, signed in 2007, enters into force, renaming ESDP to Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It provides for the creation of the European External Action Service. Commission delegations in countries outside the EU become EU delegations. 


12 July

Creation of the European Defence Agency

The European Defence Agency is established to support the member states and the European Council to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain ESDP.


12-13 December

European Security Strategy adopted

The summit in Brussels adopts a European Security Strategy. The aim of the document is to achieve a secure Europe in a better world, identify the threats facing the EU, define its strategic objectives and set out the political implications for Europe.


16 December

Signature of Berlin Plus

The 'Berlin Plus' arrangement is signed, allowing the use of NATO structures, mechanisms and assets to carry out  ESDP missions. 


3-4 June

Launch of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)

At the European Council in Cologne, the EU 15 decide to reinforce the Common Foreign and Security Policy. 


9-10 December

The foundations are laid for a Common Foreign and Security Policy

The European Council in Maastricht lays the foundations for a political Union with the creation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the beginnings of a common defence policy, as the second pillar of the Treaty of Maastricht.  

The text is signed in February 1992 and comes into force in November 1993.