EPRS Admin By / July 1, 2021

Military CSDP operations

Military CSDP operations

Military CSDP operations

The cost of military operations cannot be charged to the EU budget. Therefore, a large percentage of the costs associated with CSDP military operations (i.e. expenditure for troops, arms, equipment and deployment) has to be borne by Member States (and third countries) participating in an operation, in accordance with the principle that ‘costs lie where they fall’. This has been described as a ‘substantial disincentive for Member States to contribute their assets’ to CSDP operations, unless they have important national interests at stake. In 2004, EU Member States decided to make provisions to share at least some of the costs of military operations among all Member States, including those that do not contribute to the staffing of an operation. On 1 March 2004, the Council set up Athena, a mechanism to administer the financing of the common costs of operations, on the basis of Article 41(2) TEU. Most recently, Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/528 of 27 March 2015 provided the legal basis for financing the common costs of CSDP operations. All EU Member States, except Denmark, have contributed to financing EU military operations through Athena. Through the Athena mechanism, the EU has been financing the ‘common costs’ of CSDP operations, covering 5 % to 10 % of the total cost of an operation. Common costs include, inter alia, the financing of exploratory missions, the setting up and running of headquarters, barracks and lodging, transport to and from the theatre of operations, medical services and facilities, and the acquisition of information. The EU currently deploys six military CSDP operations in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/509 of 22 March 2021 establishing the EPF repealed Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/528. The EPF will thus replace the Athena mechanism, albeit without changing the manner in which common costs will be shared or administered. The EPF decision thus ensures continuity of the arrangements under Council Decision 2015/528. There are only minor changes compared to the Athena mechanism; most importantly, the EPF can also contribute to the financing of EU battlegroups (Annex IV.3). The EPF has the advantage that it will make EU funding for CSDP military operations available on a more permanent basis, which the EU hopes will improve programming, allow for more rapid deployment, and improve both flexibility and predictability. The Secretary-General of the Council is responsible for appointing the administrator for CSDP operations and providing their administrative staff. By contrast, the HR/VP will be responsible for the implementation of assistance measures, and will appoint an administrator for assistance measures.


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