The Strategic Compass of the European Union

Pillar 1: Act - Strategic Compass of the European Union

Pillar 1: ACT

In view of the world we face, we need to step up our efforts to prepare for crises and threats and to project stability, in our neighbourhood and beyond. The EU’s strength in preventing and addressing external conflicts and crises lies in its ability to use both military and civilian means. We must be able to act promptly in all operational domains: on land, at sea and in the air, as well as in cyber and outer space.

To effectively implement the EU’s integrated approach, we will make full and coherent use of all available EU policies and instruments and maximise synergies and complementarity between internal and external security, security and development, as well as the civilian and military dimensions of our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). We will enhance our capacity to undertake the full range of civilian and military crisis management tasks that are at the core of our CSDP, as mentioned in Article 43 of the Treaty on European Union.

Acting together

The EU must become faster and more capable and effective in its ability to decide and act. This requires political will. With unanimity as the norm for decision-making having military or defence implications, we need more rapidity, robustness and flexibility to undertake the full range of crisis management tasks.

We need to be able to respond to imminent threats or quickly react to a crisis situation outside the Union at all stages of the conflict cycle. To this end, we will develop an EU Rapid Deployment Capacity that will allow us to swiftly deploy a modular force of up to 5,000 troops, including land, air and maritime components, as well as the required strategic enablers. Such a modular capacity can be used in different phases of an operation in a non-permissive environment, such as initial entry, reinforcement or as reserve force to secure an exit.

The development of this capacity will be based on operational scenarios that will initially focus on rescue and evacuation operations, as well as the initial phase of stabilisation operations.

The capacity will consist of substantially modified EU Battlegroups and of pre-identified Member States’ military forces and capabilities, in line with the single set of forces principle. In this regard, we commit to increase the readiness and availability of our armed forces.

A substantial modification of the EU Battlegroups should lead to a more robust and flexible instrument, for instance through tailored force packages including land, maritime and air components, different levels of operational readiness and longer stand-by periods.

A comprehensive and complete overview of all available elements will give us the necessary flexibility to tailor our force to the nature of the crisis and to the requirements and objectives of the operation as decided by the Council, using the substantially modified EU Battlegroups, Member States’ military forces and capabilities, or a combination of the two. For an effective deployment, we commit to providing associated assets and the necessary strategic enablers, in particular strategic transport, force protection, medical assets, cyber defence, satellite communication and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

We will develop these capabilities where necessary. For the command and control, we will use our pre-identified national operational Headquarters or the EU Military Planning and Conduct Capability once it reaches full operational capability.

We will ensure that the use of more flexible decision-making arrangements and an extended scope of common costs (including the costs of exercises) contribute to the rapid and efficient deployability of this capacity.

We will organise training and exercises within the EU framework to increase readiness and interoperability (also in line with NATO standards) of all the elements of this capacity. This is key if we want to overcome the obstacles that we have faced in the past.

More broadly, we must also strive for greater flexibility in our decision-making process, without compromising on political and financial solidarity. We will therefore use the potential afforded by the EU Treaties, including constructive abstention.

We will in particular decide on practical modalities for implementing Article 44 of the Treaty on European Union, in accordance with CSDP decision making, to allow a group of willing and able Member States to plan and conduct a mission or operation within the EU framework and under the political oversight of the Council.

More robust, flexibleand modular CSDP civilian and military missions and operations should allow us to adapt swiftly to new threats and challenges and increase their effectiveness, also in view of the new security context and the growing presence of our strategic competitors in operational theatres.

They should for example be able to better accompany and support partners’ security and defence forces, as well as to provide training and advice on structural reforms. To this end, we will further adapt our current model of military missions and operations to increase their effectiveness on the ground. We will also explore other possibilities to provide more targeted advisory support to partner countries’ security and defence organisations. The strategic communication tools should be further strengthened to better support our missions and operations.

Through an increased use of the European Peace Facility, the EU can rapidly provide important assistance to partners for example providing military equipment often supplementing training by CSDP missions. This can also be done by supporting partners’ defence capabilities in moment of crisis, as in the case of the assistance package to support the Ukrainian armed forces to defend their territorial integrity and sovereignty and protect the civilian population from an unprovoked and unjustified aggression.

EU Member States also provide important contributions to securing EU’s interests and peace and stability in the world through various forms of cooperation. Better coordination amongst these initiatives and EU actions should lead to mutual support and increased effectiveness.

In this regard, our CSDP missions and operations and European-led ad hoc missions and operations acting in the same or adjacent theatres should mutually reinforce each other, in line with their respective mandates, through operational coordination, logistical support, intelligence sharing and joint medical evacuation capacities. This means developing closer cooperation in theatre in these areas, for example in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Strait of Hormuz.

The EU could further support European-led ad hoc missions and operations that serve EU interests. They could benefit from the EU’s political support and build on concrete results of assistance measures funded through the European Peace Facility.

With the maritime domain becoming increasingly contested, we commit to further asserting our interests at sea and enhancing the EU’s and Member States’ maritime security, including by improving the interoperability of our naval forces through live exercises and by organising European port calls.

Building on the ongoing experience in the Gulf of Guinea and in the NorthWest of the Indian Ocean, we will expand our Coordinated Maritime Presences to other areas of maritime interest that impact on the security of the EU and seek to associate relevant partners, where appropriate. We will also consolidate, and further develop as appropriate, our two naval operations which are deployed in the Mediterranean and off the Somali Coast – maritime areas of crucial strategic interest for the EU.

We will reinforce cooperation and coordination in the air domain by further developing our ability to undertake for the first time EU air security operations, including air support, rescue and evacuation, surveillance and disaster relief tasks. To facilitate the coordinated use of military air assets in support of CSDP missions and operations, we will also strengthen our collaboration and partnership with EU and multilateral structures and initiatives in the air domain, such as the European Air Transport Command.

Through our civilian CSDP missions, we provide an essential contribution to rule of law, civil administration, police and security sector reform in crisis areas. They are also crucial in the EU’s wider response to security challenges through non-military means, including those linked to irregular migration, hybrid threats, terrorism, organised crime, radicalisation and violent extremism.

The civilian CSDP Compact helps us to further develop and strengthen our civilian missions so that they can swiftly and effectively respond to existing and evolving threats and challenges, undermining the executive, judicial or legislative system in crisis areas, and addresses critical shortfalls.

We will ensure that civilian missions are able to deploy more rapidly in line with the Civilian CSDP Compact. More specifically, we will be able and ready to deploy a mission with 200 civilian experts within 30 days, making full use of the key equipment and logistical services offered by the Strategic Warehouse and the Mission Support Platform.

We will increase the effectiveness, flexibility and responsiveness of civilian missions, including through speeding up our decisionmaking, strengthening operational planning, improving selection and recruitment of personnel and improving responsiveness tools, including specialised teams. To this end, we will also build on research, development and innovation. We will further strengthen our civilian CSDP through a new Compact that will provide objectives on the type, number and size of civilian missions, elements for a structured civilian capability development process, as well as synergies with other EU instruments.

Greater cooperation for mutual benefit between CSDP and the EU’s justice and home affairs actors, including agencies such as EUROPOL, EUROJUST, CEPOL and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), is necessary to jointly address relevant security challenges. We can build on the positive experiences, such as in Libya, Ukraine, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa or the crime information cell established in the EU’s naval operation in the Mediterranean.

To this end, we aim to increase synergies between justice and home affairs actors and CSDP, in line with EU priorities. This includes shared situational awareness, regular consultations and exchanges, as well as tailored sequential or plug-in deployments. To ensure appropriate buy-in, we will also increase cooperation with national justice and home affairs actors, including at political level.

We need to gradually further strengthen our civilian and military command and control structures. We will ensure that the Military Planning and Conduct Capability is fully able to plan, control and command non-executive and executive tasks and operations, as well as live exercises. In this context, we will ramp up personnel contributions and ensure that we have the necessary communication and information systems, as well as required facilities.

Once the Military Planning and Conduct Capability reaches its full operational capability, it should be seen as the preferred command and control structure. This will not affect our ability to continue using the pre-identified national operational Headquarters. The Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability will also be strengthened to improve its ability to plan, command and control current and future civilian missions. Cooperation and coordination between the military and civilian structures will be reinforced through the Joint Support Coordination Cell.

We remain strongly committed to promoting and advancing human security and the respect of and the compliance with International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and the protection of civilians, including humanitarian personnel, in all conflict situations, as well as to further developing the EU due diligence policy in this regard. We must stay firm and prevent all attempts to dismantle and undermine international law. We will also continue to contribute to the protection of cultural heritage, including through our CSDP missions and operations.

We are strongly committed to delivering on the EU objectives on women, peace and security. Tackling gender inequalities and gender-based violence is a critical aspect of the prevention and resolution of conflict as well as for building resilience to security threats at community level. EU external action, including civilian and military missions and operations, should actively contribute to empowering women and to prevent and address sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict setting, based on the rights and different needs of women, men and girls and boys.

We will further promote gender equality and systematically mainstream a gender perspective, based on gender analysis, in all civilian and military CSDP planning and actions, focusing also on the equal and meaningful participation of women in all functions, including in leadership positions. We also commit to delivering on the EU objectives on the children and armed conflict agenda. EU external action has an essential role in contributing to ending and preventing grave violations against conflict-affected children and thus breaking cycles of violence, including through civilian and military CSDP actions.

Prepare together

If a Member State is a victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States. Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation. We will continue to invest in our mutual assistance under Article 42(7) of the Treaty on European Union as well as solidarity under Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular through frequent exercises.

To increase our preparedness we will more systematically conduct scenario-based advance planning, enhance early warning and adapt operational scenarios that correspond to the shifting threats and challenges we face. Combining geospatial as well as all other intelligence, advance planning will result in generic civilian and military plans that will be adapted and maintained as scenarios evolve. In this regard, we will strengthen cooperation between EU and national operational planners.

The Union can only be effective with sufficient and well-trained civilian and military personnel at its disposal. We have to boost our capacities, critical enablers and equipment in order to close the gap between our level of ambition and available resources. A more transparent and structured picture of available civilian and military personnel for CSDP missions and operations through early political consultations is necessary to meet our ambitions, and facilitate a fair share of contributions to military missions and operations.

We undertake to incentivise the force generation for military missions and operations, for example by enhancing transparency and predictability in the rotation of troops and by expanding the scope of common costs under the European Peace Facility. To enhance the effectiveness of our non-executive missions, we recognise the need to extend the deployment period of the missions’ senior officers. These efforts will contribute to the fulfilment of the relevant commitments made under Permanent Structured Cooperation by the participating Member States.

Readiness and interoperability are crucial elements of our response to threats and strategic competition. Frequent civilian and military live exercises in all domains, as well as reinforced advance planning, will help us to substantially boost our readiness, foster interoperability and support a common strategic culture. Live exercises in an EU framework, with the progressive involvement of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability will shape the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity in particular, and more generally will reinforce our posture, add to our strategic communication and strengthen interoperability, including with partners.

Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the urgent need to substantially enhance the military mobility of our armed forces within and beyond the Union. We will strengthen dual use transport infrastructure across the trans-European transport network in order to promote rapid and seamless movement of military personnel, materiel and equipment for operational deployments and exercises, working in close cooperation with NATO and other partners.

We will agree on new commitments to accelerate and harmonise cross-border procedures, identify ways to sustain short-notice large scale movements, invest in the digitalisation of our armed forces and develop cutting-edge, energy efficient capabilities that guarantee our ability to respond quickly and operate in non-permissive environments, taking into account the constitutional requirements of certain Member States. We will also link our work on military mobility with table-top and live exercises of Member States’ armed forces.


We aim to become a more assertive security and defence actor by enabling more robust, rapid and decisive action, including for the resilience of the Union and our mutual assistance and solidarity. Advance planning will be the norm and existing command and control structures will be enhanced. We will be better prepared through live exercises and a more integrated approach to crises.


• By 2025, an EU Rapid Deployment Capacity, allowing the swift deployment of a modular force of up to 5,000 troops in a non-permissive environment, will be fully operational. To this end, we will agree on operational scenarios in 2022. Starting from 2023, regular live exercises will contribute to readiness and interoperability.

• By 2023, we will decide on practical modalities for the implementation of Article 44 of the Treaty on European Union, to allow a group of willing and able Member States to plan and conduct a mission or operation within the EU framework and under the political oversight of the Council.

• By 2025, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability will be able to plan and conduct all nonexecutive military missions and two small-scale or one medium-scale executive operation/s, as well as live exercises. As a next step and upon achievement of this objective, we will also work to further expand our ability to plan and conduct additional non-executive missions and executive operations.

• We will further strengthen our civilian and military CSDP missions and operations. As a first step, by mid-2022, we will further adapt our current model of military missions to increase their effectiveness on the ground. We will also explore ways to strengthen our two naval operations. At the same time, we will look into other possibilities to provide targeted advisory support to partner countries’ security and defence organisation.

• We will strengthen mutual support between CSDP missions and operations and European led ad hoc missions and operations, in line with their respective mandates. By end of 2022, as a first step, we will establish links in theatre for example between EUNAVFOR Atalanta and the European Maritime Awareness Mission in the Strait of Hormuz, as well as in the Sahel.

• Building on the experience of the Coordinated Maritime Presences concept in the Gulf of Guinea and its expansion in the North-West of the Indian Ocean, as of the second half of 2022 we will consider other maritime areas of interest.

• By 2023, we will agree on a military concept for air security operations, including air support, rescue and evacuation, surveillance and disaster relief tasks.

• By mid-2023, we will adopt a new Civilian CSDP Compact that will further increase our missions’ effectiveness and help developing the necessary civilian capabilities. We will also further enhance cooperation between relevant EU and Member States’ justice and home affairs actors and CSDP. We will be able to deploy a civilian CSDP mission of 200 fully equipped experts within 30 days, including in complex environments.

• We will systematically mainstream a human rights and gender perspective in all civilian and military CSDP actions and increase the number of women in all functions, including leadership positions. By 2023, we will strengthen our network of human rights and gender advisers in our CSDP missions and operations.


• We will continue to conduct regular exercises to further strengthen our mutual assistance in case of an armed aggression, in accordance with Article 42(7) of the Treaty on European Union. This will comprise regular cyber exercises starting from 2022.

• Starting from 2023, we will organise regular live exercises in all domains, with the progressive involvement of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability. These exercises will also combine civilian and military CSDP elements.

• By 2022, we will agree on a Troop Rotation Cycle Register for CSDP military missions and operations and strengthen early political force sensing for both civilian and military CSDP missions and operations.

• By 2023, also in view of proposals regarding the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity, we will re-assess the scope and definition of common costs to enhance solidarity and stimulate participation in military missions and operations, as well as exercise-related costs.

• By the end of 2022, we will take new commitments with the aim to substantially enhance and invest in military mobility and will agree on an ambitious, revised Action Plan. This will comprise new actions in areas such as digitalisation, increasing cyber resilience of transport infrastructure and its support systems, as well as the use of artificial intelligence and air and sea lift to improve military mobility within and beyond the EU. For the future, we will further increase and leverage investment for Military Mobility.

• We will immediately accelerate the implementation of the dual-use transport infrastructure projects including by frontloading the military mobility budget in the framework of the Action Plan on Military Mobility and the Connecting Europe Facility.

• By the end of 2022, we will launch an analysis of the EU transport infrastructure capability to sustain short-notice large-scale movements.

• By 2025, we will complete the improvement and harmonisation of cross-border procedures.