The Creation of a Rapid Reaction Force by an Avantguard Group of Countries: a Proposal (2/3)

, by Domenico Moro

The Creation of a Rapid Reaction Force by an Avantguard Group of Countries: a Proposal (2/3)

The proposal contained in this document provides for the creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) by an avant-guard group of European countries, as a first step towards a European policy of security controlled by a European Federal government. It is founded on the contents of the Reform Treaty (RT) recently approved in Lisbon. The words “Rapid Reaction Force” and “security”, instead of “army” and “defence”, are used in the conviction that a European security policy will be a structural pause compared to the pure policy of power which characterised each European country up to the first half of the twentieth century [1].

Thanks to the single currency the EU became a global actor on the monetary plane and now the Reform Treaty has created the conditions for the EU to make significant steps forward even in the sphere of security policy. The proposal here presented refers to the institutional innovations contained in the RT in which a qualified majority is scheduled for, and it presumes that they will form a legal base sufficient to allow an avant-guard group of countries of the Union to have a Rapid Reaction Force at the service of the European Council and, as set up in the RT, of the United Nations.


The implementation cost of the RRF is an issue for which only figures of gross estimate can be supplied. In order to provide for an evaluation, official sources relating to the extent of the force to be set up are taken into consideration as well as the estimate of the costs for troops, comparable to the American ones, for efficiency and effectiveness. T

he aim of the Helsinki European Council is the establishment of a force of 60,000 men capable of being deployed within two months and of remaining in the theatre of operations for about a year. As is well known, an equal number of men must be kept as reserves and the same amount must be in training, reaching thus a grand total of 180,000 men.

Conversely, as far as the estimates relating to the cost of a structure that meets American standards are concerned, the method followed shall be the one suggested by others which proposes to refer to the cost of a UK soldier, whose operational capabilities compare favourably to those of an American soldier. Thus the additional cost to be sustained with respect to the current average cost of a European soldier can be determined [2].

According to the data supplied by the European Defence Agency (EDA), the cost per head of a UK soldier is equal to € 107,000, whereas the average European cost is equal to € 52,000. Therefore the additional yearly cost, vis-à-vis the current one, necessary to reach a standard similar to that of a UK soldier, is equal to about 10 billion euros, 0.10% of the European GDP [3].

These figures do not include investment outlays, i.e. the cost difference between the cost for a European soldier (in which the investment outlay is equal to 24% of the total cost per head) and that of an American soldier (in which the investment outlay is equal to 63% of the total cost per head). In the case of a British soldier, the annual per head investment (also including running costs and maintenance costs for equipment and infrastructures) is equal to € 153,000, whereas the average European cost is equal to € 31,000 (the American one is € 224,000 per head) [4].

Therefore the additional investments which the European countries involved in the implementation of a structured cooperation should meet, in order to equal the British standard, should reach at full operations 22 billion euros per annum, 0,23% of the GDP [5]. Altogether the differential annual expenditure vis-à-vis the one presently sustained by European countries who shall decide to go ahead with the implementation of the RRF, would be equal to 0,33% of the European GDP.

Financing the setting-up of a Rapid Reaction Force [6]

If a group of Countries decides to initiate a permanent structured cooperation, this very group, by definition must also be willing to bear the weight of the costs. What can be checked is whether the RT provides for European mechanisms of financing, thus contributing to maintaining, within a solid supranational institutional framework the start up of structured cooperation by a limited number of Countries. At a subsequent stage this cost could be included in the European budget.

The importance of this passage is emphasized by the fact that it would be the real channel through which the European Parliament shall be able to control the use of the RRF. Though the RT does not provide a direct reference to the financing of a RRF and of a structured cooperation, nonetheless it does appear to introduce innovations as far as the financing of operations in the foreign policy and security sectors are concerned.

If it is true that art. 28, relating to funding, refers to decisions made by a qualified majority, it refers to missions provided for by the following art. 28A which are decided unanimously. However, an interpretation of the articles makes one think that the funds the Union, or an avant-guard of EU Countries, make available, can be used to finance a structured cooperation.

To sum up: compared to what has been established in European Treaties up to now, art. 28 provides for two channels to finance foreign policy and security. The first channel gives direct access to the allocation of funds from the Union budget for missions provided for in two distinct articles, 28A, par. 1 and 28B [7]. The second channel gives access to an “initial fund” created by the contributions of member States. This “fund” was established by a qualified majority decision and also concerns missions provided for in the two articles quoted above [8].

Apparently there does not seem to be a direct connection, on the one hand, between permanent structured cooperation, the financing of which is left to the participating States; and, on the other hand, the resorting to European funds in the framework of the EU formed by 27 States.

One must however be aware of what the two articles state. First of all art. 28B, par. 2 claims: “The Council shall adopt decisions relating to the tasks referred to in paragraph 1, defining their objectives and scope and the general conditions for their implementation”. And then in the subsequent art. 28C: “Within the framework of the decisions adopted in accordance with Article 28 B, the Council may entrust the implementation of a task to a group of Member States which are willing and have the necessary capability for such a task”.

Since in both cases, contrary to what was done in art. 28A par. 2, the fact that the Council decides unanimously has not been specified, one may think that the contents of art. 9C may be applied, according to which “The Council shall act by a qualified majority except where the Treaties provide otherwise”. On the other hand, the Protocol relating to the establishment of the permanent structured cooperation, refers to the missions contemplated in art. 28B, which does not specify that the decisions are made unanimously, and not to those contemplated in art. 28A, par. 1, which does specify that for their implementation the decisions are made unanimously.


[1For a detailed discussion on European foreign policy and security, see: PALEA R. (edited by), The role of Europe in the world, Alpina, Turin, 2006, and the articles by PISTONE S., which were published in various editions of the journals Piemonteuropa and Il Federalista.

[2AA.VV., The ERRF and the NRF - The European Rapid Reaction Force and the NATO Reaction Force: Compatibilities and Choices, Rubbettino, Rome, 2004; and: POSEN B., Europe cannot advance on two fronts, Financial Times, 24 April 2003.

[3AA.VV., The ERRF and the NRF, op. cit.; and: GASPARINI G., 26 torrents do not make a great river: the European defence budgets, IAI, 2007.

[4The cost of per head investments and the per head cost of management and maintenance of equipment and infrastructures are, in good measure, non homogenous costs. Nonetheless, in the case here examined, the latter may be presumed to be an indicator of the investments made in the past and incorporated into the current management

[5To complete the information framework, other sources have tried to make an estimate on how much the investment necessary for the establishment of the RRTF would amount to. The estimates vary between 25 and 45 billion euros, to be divided over several years. See: CHARLES W., ZYCHER B., European Military

[6About the financing of a European defence, see: CARDOT P., Dotons l’Union européenne d’un budget de PESD, in: Défense nationale, 2004.

[7Art. 28, par. 3: “The Council shall adopt a decision establishing the specific procedures for guaranteeing rapid access to appropriations in the Union budget for urgent financing of initiatives in the framework of the common foreign and security policy, and in particular for preparatory activities for the tasks referred to in Article 28 A(1) and Article 28 B. It shall act after consulting the European Parliament”. 11 Article 28, par. 3, sub-section 2 and f., provides as follows: “Preparatory activities for the tasks referred to in Article 28 A(1) and Article 28 B which are not charged to the Union budget shall be financed by a start-up fund made up of Member States’ contributions. The Council shall adopt by a qualified majority, on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, decisions establishing: (a) the procedures for setting up and financing the start-up fund, in particular the amounts allocated to the fund; (b) the procedures for administering the start-up fund; (c) the financial control procedures.”

[8Par. 1 of art. 28A provides for: “The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States.”; whereas art. 28B provides as follows: “1. The tasks referred to in Article 28 A(1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means, shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories. 2. The Council shall adopt decisions relating to the tasks referred to in paragraph 1, defining their objectives and scope and the general conditions for their implementation. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, acting under the authority of the Council and in close and constant contact with the Political and Security Committee, shall ensure coordination of the civilian and military aspects of such tasks.” Incidentally, it should be noted that the missions art. 28B refers to, do not only include the so-called “Petersberg tasks”, but seem to also include the so-called “high intensity” military operations.

Your comments

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom