Timeline: EU cooperation on security and defence

Council of the EU


22 June

European Council calls for the launch of a permanent structured cooperation

At the June European Council, EU leaders agreed on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) to strengthen Europe's security and defence.

Within three months, member states will agree a common list of criteria and commitments, together with concrete capability projects, in order to start this cooperation.

"It is a historic step, because such cooperation will allow the EU to move towards deeper integration in defence. Our aim is for it to be ambitious and inclusive, so every EU country is invited to join.", said Donald Tusk at the European Council press conference.

19 June

Council welcomes progress made on EU-NATO cooperation

Foreign ministers discussed EU-NATO cooperation with NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller. The discussion was based on a joint progress report by the EU High Representative and the Secretary-General of NATO. The Council adopted conclusions on the report, welcoming progress in the implementation of the common set of proposals and calling for further steps in the same direction.

8 June

Council establishes a Military Planning and Conduct Capability

The Council adopted the decision establishing of the military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), within the EU military staff.

The MPCC will improve the crisis management structures of the EU. It will assume command of EU non-executive military missions (currently, the EU military training missions in Somalia, in Central Africa and in Mali).

This will allow the mission staff in the field to concentrate on the specific activities of their mission, with better support provided from Brussels.

18 May

EU Global Strategy: Council conclusions on security and defence

The Council adopted conclusions on security and defence in the context of the EU Global Strategy. The conclusions take note of progress in strengthening cooperation in the area of security and defence, and provide guidance for further work.

The areas covered include:

  • improving CSDP crisis management structures, in particular the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability
  • strengthening CSDP cooperation with partner countries
  • capacity building for security and development 
  • developing civilian capabilities and enhancing the responsiveness of civilian crisis management
  • reinforcing military rapid response  
  • deepening European defence cooperation

18 May

Council discussed EU-NATO cooperation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Ministers of defence took stock of cooperation, in particular of the common set of 42 proposals in the 7 areas identified in the Joint Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of NATO.

They welcomed the progress made in several areas , in particular in countering hybrid threats as well as in information sharingstrategic communications, and maritime 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.