Petersberg Tasks, Transatlantic Relations and Division of Labour
(Volume 2, br. 1-2, 2001.)
12 ruj 2001 10:30:00

Author: Univ. Prof. Heinz Gärtner

Austrian Institute for International Affairs, Vienna, Austria



Crisis management has become the paradigm of a new system of international security; Europe's main goal is, therefore, to create its own military force Preuzmite članak u PDF formatu by the year 2003, as selective participation in inter¬national peace operations is inevitable for European states. But the appropriate division of labor between the US and EU has yet to be established, which means that EU members must focus on smaller scale operations and the US on more demanding crises. Europe is already involved in the so-called "Petersberg tasks": humanitarian, rescue, and peacekeeping operations.   Participation in war without the mandate of the UN should  be avoided unless the EU shares the burdens and risks with the US.



Crisis management forms the cornerstone of international security. The bulk of the operational efforts of NATO and the European Union (EU) have already turned from collective defense to this activity. Members of the EU (in the framework of the "Petersberg Tasks") and NATO (or PfP) must participate in crisis management, peacekeeping, humanitarian action, and peace-making/peace-enforcement operations.

There must be an appropriate division of labor between the US and Europe. The controlling US contribution is its military capability. But the ability to act involves more than military force. Political foresight, intelligence, planning, creativity, vision, and conflict prevention are also important. Europeans are better equipped for peace-keeping, humanitarian action, and disaster relief, not for the rapid deployment of large forces over long distances. The United States must maintain its ability to react forcefully to high-intensity military threats.


Europe should not want more than it can control. It is not prepared for military combat, enforcing and making peace, peace-keeping, resolving conflicts, or participating in humanitarian and rescue operations. For technology forces are neither essential for soft-security and peace-keeping missions nor very helpful. Highly developed military technologies are not designed for crisis response.

Selective participation in international peace operations is thus a norm for European states. In principal, a European state should take part in all operations. In practice, however, the states concentrate on the less demanding "lower end" operations: peacekeeping, peace-enforcement, and peace-implementation activities based on the standards of the UN or the OSCE, whether in the framework of NATO/PfP or Petersberg.


In such circumstances, force must be used impartially. The mandate must have reasonable and attainable political and military objectives. In the past, ambiguous Security Council mandates have been a primary cause of poor civil-military relations in the field. Rules of engagement have to be expressed explicitly and lucidly.

“Burden and Responsibility Sharing" and Division of Labor

The headline European goal is to deploy a rapid reaction force of up to 60,000 troops within 60 days, one capable of handling military crises without outside help. The European Council is determined to develop an autonomous capacity, and when NATO "as a whole is not engaged," to launch and conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crises. This capability avoids duplication and does not imply the creation of a European army. The new defense structure will be intergovernmental; the European Commission and the European Parliament are not involved. The decision to deploy troops would require the consent of all the 15 Member States. The Atlantic Alliance remains the foundation of the defense of its members.

On 20 November 2000 in Brussels the Member States, in a Capabilities Commitment Conference, solidified the national commitments required to fulfil the military capability goals set by the Helsinki European Council. The conference also identified areas needing upgrading so as to meet the guidelines for autonomous EU action.

This conference was the first stage of a process to achieve the collective capability goals set for 2003 and beyond. The Helsinki European Council identified the collective capability goals in the field of command, intelligence, and strategic transport; it also incorporated the goals already announced by some Member States: that is, develop and correlate monitoring and early warning systems; open joint headquarters to officers from Member States; reinforce the rapid reaction capabilities of   European multinational forces;  establish a European air transport  command; increase  the   number  of  deployable troops; and heighten strategic sea-lift capacity.


These efforts will continue, for the credibility and effectiveness of the European security and defense policy  are grounded on the EU's military capability to intervene without using  NATO assets.


Europe's headline goal is to establish an autonomous military force under its command by 2003. This force will be adequately appointed; that is, with command and control, air and sea transport, intelligence availability, and logistic and combat support. But a force this size could not, unaided, undertake a Kosovo-sized intervention, let alone supplant NATO.

The EU has specifically defined its security aims to peacekeeping, rising at most to peace-enforcement with combat troops. It has continually asserted NATOs primacy in defense. This is essential for the Union, for no mutual security guarantee is written into the European treaty, nor will be soon. Nor will the EU soon have a defense capability.


NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, is clear on this point:

There is, and will be, no single European army. There will be no standing European force. National armed forces will remain just that: national forces, under the command of national governments. Any decision to deploy national forces, on any mission, will remain exclusively the decision of the state concerned: for national, UN, or NATO operations. What is being created is a fourth option: EU-led operations, where NATO as a whole is not engaged. If will add another tool to our toolbox of crisis management. A win-win situation for Europe, for NATO, and for the transatlantic relationship we all value so highly.


In the 1999 Kosovo crisis, European military hardware was significantly inferior to that of the United States in transport and logistics, intelligence, high-tech weaponry, and the gap is growing with the advance of US technology. The difference between the US and the European capability of moving an army at will, (the key ability for fighting a war in the post-Cold War era) is drastic. Only the United States can deploy and sustain large forces beyond its borders. Europeans depend heavily on the United States for force projection, even in areas as close as the Balkans.   For example, in Kosovo, US intelligence identified the bombing targets, its aircraft flew two-thirds of the strike missions, and it launched the precision-guided missiles. European forces lacked computerized weapons, night-vision equipment, and advanced electronics, which precluded using European aircraft in the campaign.


This does not mean that the US must always lead. Should the United States manage every crisis in or around Europe, simply because the European countries are unwilling, or plain unable, to take the lead? How long will the United States tolerate that? And why should it? Total dependence on US leadership in every crisis is not equal sharing. That is why an effective European capability is imperative for its survival. It establishes that Europe is committed to doing its share.

So there must be appropriate division of labor. The decisive US contribution is military capability. However, the capability to act does not imply only military action. Foresight, intelligence, planning, creativity, vision,4 and conflict prevention are also required. Europeans are not able to deploy large forces over long distances. Thus the United States must continue to provide the military response in high-intensity conflicts. Another key role in US military operations includes peace-keeping. European militaries should also concentrate on a policing role in which they remain neutral, encourage reconciliation, work with local leaders, and apply military expertise to strongly assist civilian authorities and NGOs.

European police forces have the training, skills, and equipment for international missions, including monitoring and active service. European states can also supply experts on organized crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering, as well as riot police and border guards.


This division of labor is already in place. The United States provided more than two-thirds of the aircraft in the sky over Kosovo and Serbia; now, the EU and non-EU together are providing 80 percent of the KFOR forces.7 The same applies to the money. US troops make up less than 20 percent of the forces in the Balkans, less than 15 percent in Kosovo. In the past decade, Europe spent three times more than the United States on non-military assistance. And 90 percent of all these costs in Kosovo are absorbed by European taxpayers. So the constant refrain that the United States pays more than its fair share in global peacekeeping operations is simply untrue.

European states' Selective Engagement

European states should maintain a minimum level of participation in all phases of an operation (TABLE 2). The US prefers spearhead, high-intensity offensive operations, and, as its European partners, is reluctant to engage in long-term peace support operations. As former Secretary of Defense Cohen : admitted in (1999), "Peacekeeping is not our primary mission. Peacekeeping involves a different type of training and capabilities ... the training for the peacekeeping mission is not necessarily consistent with the war-fighting mission we've had in the past."


The division of labor would allow the US to concentrate on its competencies in long-range precision strikes, rapid force projection, global surveillance,  and  reconnaissance. At the same time, the US could reduce its investment in peace-support operations, allowing it to withdraw its forces after meeting the action's objectives.

This would allow the Europeans to cancel costly modernization programs.

However, Europe would have to maintain a force capable of protecting itself during peace-support operations, controlling the escalation of violence and sustaining itself during an extended operation. Planning units would include force projection, tactical reconnaissance, ground surveillance, and special units, rather than high-speed transport aircraft.

In the 2000 US Presidential campaign, George W. Bush, Jr. questioned keeping US troops in the Balkans for peacekeeping. The U.S position was later defined by Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense:

Clear criteria for the use of US military forces should be established prior to US participation in specific peacekeeping operations. There should be clear objectives, a coherent strategy to achieve them, a reasonable chance of success, acceptable command-and-control arrangements, and an exit strategy. When the main burden of the US presence shifts to infrastructure and nation-building, however, we are into missions that are not appropriate for the US military.


In May 2001, Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that a US priority was to get its 3,300 US peacekeepers out of Bosnia, for the US military mission there is finished.


Peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo would become a European responsibility, as it would in other local conflicts. The United States, in contrast, would focus on deterring and/or fighting wars in the Persian Gulf, Asia, and other trouble spots, leaving peacekeeping to the European countries.

This policy would lead to a well-defined and distinct division of labor:


TABLE 1: Division of Labor (a)

Peace Support Operations - Petersberg Tasks



The remarks led Europeans to infer that the Bush adminis¬tration would take unilateral action without consulting its allies.12 Furthermore, the new alignment could divide the NATO alliance, undermine the current European effort to increase its military capacity, and question the post-war rationale for NATO's existence, which has centered on the Balkans.

A small presence is better than no presence at all and the Pentagon can train at least some peacekeepers.


US Senator Joseph Biden wants to maintain the US in the peacekeeping mission:

The choice before us is not between fulfilling our peacekeeping commitments or maintaining our military readiness. We can afford to do both. Promoting regional peace and stability — including deployment of US forces as peacekeepers — is one of the best ways to ensure that our ability to fight and win a major war will not be tested. The key to retaining the finest military force in the world will be rigorously prioritizing the way we allocate resources.


At the "American Enterprise Institute" in Washington, DC, March 7, 2001, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson stopped short of proposing a division of labor. He suggested that Europeans should engage in 'minor European security problems" and Europeans handle "small-scale crises." NATO would handle the rest:

We all know that the United States does not want to engage in every minor European security problem. And Americans argue, quite publicly sometimes, that the Europeans are rich enough that they ought to be able to take care of problems in their own backyard. And the Americans who say this are right. But if the option is NATO - including the United States - or nothing, the pressure is automatically there to press for the United States to become engaged. So we have to create a new option. Building European military capabilities has to be matched with building the institutional role - distinct from, but closely linked to NATO - in order to create a European option for handling small-scale crises. That is why ESDI is focused on the so-called "Petersberg tasks": humanitarian operations, peacekeeping, and crisis management. For bigger jobs, NATO is still the only game in town.


If Europeans should develop a military capability, then US troops could participate in lower-end Peace Support Operations; i.e., humanitarian, rescue, and peacekeeping operations (TABLE 2).


TABLE 2: Division of Labor (b)

Peace Support Petersberg Tasks



Division of labor does not mean that Europeans do Europe, the US does the world; nor does it mean that Europeans make the peace and the US makes war. Instead, the EU members concentrate on the lower end of the conflict spectrum and the US on the bigger crises.


TABLE 3: Crisis Response Operations - Petersberg Tasks


Source: Heinz Gartner. The author received important suggestions

from Johann Pucher and Karl Schmidseder.


TABLE 3 shows the range of Crisis Response Operations and Petersberg Tasks. The lower level covers operations that are based on the consent of the conflicting parties (line x). The higher level (peace enforcement, peace implementation) ends short of war (line y). These two areas are identical with missions according to Chapter VI and Chapter VII of the UN-Charter.


One important dividing line in TABLE 3- the area between x and y does not presuppose the consent of the parties to the conflict or potential conflict. The relationship between consent and the use of force is a complex arrangement between mandate and rules of engagement. In some cases, there could be a type of consensual Chapter VII, such as the Dayton and the Kosovo peace agreements. In these cases, the conflicting parties agreed to implement peace by force.

The other dividing line is between peace enforcement and war (line y). A war describes a state when force is used between or among conflicting parties, absent any mandate from an international organization. Conversely, UN peace operations are based on three basic principles: consent, impartiality, and the use of force only in self-defense.17 These principles have occasionally been jeopardized, such as using humanitarian concerns as a pretext for political intervention, as in Somalia.


The participation of a European state in a war with a designated enemy, but with no mandate from an international organization, is unlikely, but not excluded. However, the EU "will thereby increase its ability to contribute to international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter" (Cologne, Amsterdam) or recognize the priority of the Charter (Helsinki). In political terms, the lack of an UN mandate or authorization makes it extremely difficult for the EU to conduct a peace enforcement operation. Many member states would have difficulty participating. It could also tear apart the fledgling European defense policy.


Therefore, future crisis-management actions by the European force will be conducted with the consent of the states concerned and carried out in pursuance of UN Security Council resolutions. Nevertheless, EU military intervention without a Security Council mandate is possible but unlikely. On the other hand, legitimate interventions without a mandate (in cases of extreme necessity) seem more likely to be made by NATO.


However, there is room for distinguishing between peace-enforcement operations and a war. Legally, one could argue that peace-enforcement operations authorized by the UN are not wars. Yet the differences are murky, as the 1991  Gulf War between  the   US-led  coalition   and   Iraq  to   liberate   Kuwait shows. The anti-Iraq coalition was authorized by a mandate of the Security Council; the liberation of Kuwait, however, could have been classified as self-defense (Article 51   of the UN Charter), and as a "war" under the above definition.

A clear, appropriate and realistic mandate must be implemented in an impartial manner. Impartiality is not equated with consent, neutrality, or passivity.

 Impartiality is the complete disinterestedness of the intervening state(s); i.e., the absence of bias.  Since states  may need  more than  just humanitarian motives to intervene, the UN or its regional organizations are better able to practice impartiality. But the overriding purpose for an intervention must be humanitarian.


The   Report   of  the   Panel   on   United   Nations   Peace Operations (August 2000) recommends that peace operations have   "clear, credible, and achievable mandates." Once deployed, UN peacekeepers must be able to carry out their mandates   professionally  with   robust   rules   of  engagement against those who renege on their commitments to a peace accord or seek to undermine it by violence. Impartiality thus means adherence to the principles of the Charter and to the objectives of a mandate.

Such impartiality is not the same as neutrality or equal treatment for all parties. For example, local parties may consist not of moral equals but of obvious aggressors and victims; hence peacekeepers may be operationally justified in using force, even morally compelled to do so. Genocide in Rwanda went unchecked in part because the international community failed to use or reinforce the operation then on the ground.


Also a concern for European states are the life-and-death political decisions often accompanying participation. In principle, a European State would be able to take part in all operations, demonstrating that international solidarity is not exclusively left to military alliances. For this reason, operations between lines x and y should be based on international legitimization of the UN or the OSCE, whether in the framework of NATO/PfP or Petersberg. In such circumstances, the use of force requires strict impartiality.

In principle, the Europeans should be capable of participating in all Petersberg or Crisis Response Operations. Participation in war - without a mandate or authorization of the UN - is best avoided. Europeans should also share the burdens and risks with the Americans. In practice, Europeans should concentrate on the lower level of crisis-response operations (left of line x in TABLE 3). The resources of a European State may be limited, but their extensive experience in humanitarian  action,  rescue operations,  and  peace-keeping allow their activities to range from infrastructure restoration to basic police, medical, and veterinary services.

NATO-Secretary Lord Robertson concludes:

The new security environment, therefore, will put entirely new demands on our military men and women. In addition to a high level of military competence, we will require keen political instincts and considerable diplomatic skills. More than ever, we will require a military gifted with the talent of improvisation, able to communicate in several languages, able to adapt to rapidly shifting situations. And more than ever, we will require a military geared to cooperation with soldiers from many countries, NATO members and Partner countries. Because today, our operations will include many countries from all over the continent, and indeed even from outside of Europe. In short, to manage the challenge of the next century we do not only require military-technical interoperability We also require "human interoperability" — officers and soldiers who think alike, officers who share the same ideas, who can devise new approaches to new problems - and who can start working with each other very quickly.





1 European Union, Military Capabilities Commitment Declaration, issued Nov. 20, 2000.

2 General Lord Robertson, Speech by NATO Secretary, at the presentation of the Chesney Gold Medal to Baroness Thatcher, Royal United Services Institute, London, 1 March 2001.

3 General Lord Robertson, Speech by NATO Secretary, at the presentation of the Chesney Gold Medal to Baroness Thatcher, Royal United Services Institute, London, 1 March 2001.

4 Dieter Mahncke, "The Role of the USA in Europe: Successful Past but Uncertain Future?" European Foreign Affairs Review, Vol. 4, Issue 3 (Autumn 1999), 353-370.

5 Michael C. Williams, "Civil-Military Relations and Peacekeeping," Adelphi Paper 321, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Oxford, 1998, 55.

6 See Joseph S. Nye Jr., "The US and Europe: continental drift?" International Affairs 76. No. 1, 2000, 51-59

7 NSS, The Military Balance 2000-2001, Oxford University Press, 2000.

8 Quoted in "Peacekeeping Undermines US Combat Readiness", Jane's Defence Weekly. 28 July 1999.

9 James R Thomas, "The Military Challenges of Transatlantic Coalitions", The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Adelphi Paper 333, New York, 1999,68-82.

10 Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defence, Written Answers to Questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee in conjunction with his Confirmation Hearing, January 11.

11 Washington Post. 18 Mav. 2001.

12 Washington Post. May 24. 2001.

13 See also New York Times and Washington Post. October 20 - 25, 2000.

14 Joseph Biden, "The Need For Bipartisanship In Foreign Policy", U.S Foreign Policy Agenda, An Electronic Journal of the US Department of State, Volume 6, No. 1,22-24, here 23.

15 Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Secretary General of NATO, Trans-Atlantic Relations - "Overcoming New Challenges", The American Enterprise Institute Washington, DC March 7, 2001. Robertson wants to avoid a division of labour within NATO; however: "We must ensure that the burdens, the costs and the risks are shared equally." Lord Robertson, Secretary General of NATO, Speech "New Security and Defence Challenges in the Euro-Atlantic Area, Centro Caixa - Barcelona, 10 May 2001. There is some contradiction since 11 of the European NATO-members contribute also to the "headline goal" of the EU.

16 There are important exceptions, however. The KFOR-troops in Kosovo are allowed to act under Chapter VII but operate mainly on the lower level.

17 Boutros-Ghali, "Supplement to An Agenda for Peace. Position Paper of the Secretary-General on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations," 3 January 1995, paras. 33, 80, 85-87.

18 Michele Griffin, "Retrenchment, Reform and Regionalization: Trends in UN Peace Support Operations", International Peacekeeping. Vol. 6, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 1-31, here 11.

19 Martin Ortega, "Military intervention and the European, " Institute for Security Studies of WEU 2001. March 2001, 51.

20 Winrich Kuhne, "Peace Support Operations: How to Make them Succeed," International Politics and Society 4/1999, 368-379, here 363.

21 Danish Institute of International Affairs, Humanitarian Intervention: Legal and Political Aspects, Copenhagen 1999, 110-111.

22 Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, August 2000, para. 48-64.

23 Lord Robertson, Secretary General of NATO, Speech "New Security and Defence Challenges in the Euro-Atlantic Area, Centro Caixa - Barcelona, 10 May 2001.




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