November 23, 2021

EU Toolbox is not yet Fit for the World: A JOINT Report by ICDS and GMF

European Union
European Union

Experts of ICDS and GMF have published a new report that analyses the EU’s foreign and security policy instruments with a focus on tools that are relevant for crisis and conflict management.

The report Not Yet Fit for the World: Piecemeal Buildup of EU Military, Cyber and Intelligence Assets is written by Kristi Raik, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the ICDS, with contributions by Ivo Juurvee, Head of Security & Resilience Programme at the ICDS; Tony Lawrence, Head of Defence Policy and Strategy Programme at the ICDS; Kristine Berzina, Senior Fellow and Head of the Geopolitics Team at the Alliance for Securing Democracy in the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF); and Maurice Turner, Cybersecurity Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy in the GMF.

The report is part of the ICDS contribution to the research project JOINT – Understanding and Strengthening EU Foreign & Security Policy in a Complex and Contested World, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme. The JOINT project involves 14 partners from 12 countries and is coordinated by the Italian Institute of International Affairs (IAI).

The report explores how, in the past decades, the EU has developed an increasingly broad, multi-sectoral set of foreign and security policy instruments. While trying to create a more effective and integrated toolbox, the Union has faced a number of challenges:

  • First, as the EU’s scope of activity and level of ambition have increased, the need to strengthen the “harder end” of instruments – including military, cyber and intelligence tools – has been widely acknowledged, but these remain weak.
  • Second, with EU policies extending to areas where the Union’s resources and competencies are weak, the need to mobilise member states’ resources has become more important, but ensuring meaningful contributions from member states has proven difficult.
  • Third, it has become an ever more complex task to connect the multiple sectors to each other to build a comprehensive policy.

The report highlights the need for continuous political work and the engagement of member states to strengthen the common understanding of the EU’s strategic goals and the most appropriate means to reach them. Secondly, looking at conflict management in particular, it calls for regular exercises of the multi-sectoral toolbox the EU has at its disposal. Thirdly, it argues that more efforts are required to integrate new elements such as cyber diplomacy and new defence tools into a broader foreign policy approach. It is also important to enhance the actual use of the different elements of the EU’s multi-sectoral toolbox.

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