Hansjörg Haber, a seasoned German diplomat, currently is EU Civilian Operations Commander and Director of the CPCC in the European External Action Service.  As Civilian Operations Commander, he exercises command and control at strategic level for the planning and conduct of all civilian CSDP operations. Previously, from 2008-2011, he was Head of the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia. An economist by trade, he entered the German Federal Foreign Ministry in 1982. Most recently, he was German Ambassador in Beirut (2007-2008). Previous posts included Head of the UN Division in the Federal Foreign Office as well as Head of the Press and Information Office in the German Embassy in Moscow.  He has also been posted to Ankara, Paris, Moscow and Manila.

Hansjörg Haber’s 10 from 10

  • Civilian CSDP missions are an instrument of the EU for helping post-conflict societies to reconstruct or reform their security sector as an essential precondition for further development, and also to prevent the renewal of conflict. They contribute to implementing agreed EU regional and country strategies. They draw on the wealth of experience in the fields of policing, the penal chain and guaranteeing the rule of law which is available from the very diverse and highly developed police institutions of member states. Insofar, it is only the EU which can deploy this kind of missions.
  • Whilst we like to refer to “best European police standards”, we do not really know which these standards are.  In practice it works, and our staff usually manage to instil a sense of professionalism into their local counterparts, but we clearly have a deficit of doctrine which must be addressed together with the academia.
  • The original idea behind CSDP missions was crisis management, mostly understood as a short-term intervention in “crisis mode”.  However, after a few years of evolution of the instrument, mandates are mostly about security sector reform as an element of state building. This has consequences for the average lengths of missions which are not yet fully accepted. The resulting tensions and differences in perceptions must be openly discussed and resolved.
  • Missions must be embedded into a political strategy. This is the case for Kosovo, and the implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue could not take place without the EULEX mission. It was not the case in Guinea-Bissau, where there was no real EU agenda. And Georgia is a borderline case because it is increasingly difficult to see the link between the overall EU strategy for this country and the continuation of the Mission’s mandate.
  • Missions must similarly be embedded in what is called the “comprehensive approach” to utilizing the different instruments available to EU external action. While in the abstract this seems easy enough to agree to, in practice it has not yet been successfully implemented, and different planning timelines and institutional set-ups are posing serious problems. As just one example, missions usually cannot provide police forces they train with the equipment which this training presupposes. In most cases, they can only hope that this equipment comes “from somewhere else”.
  • Missions need a better and more coherent support structure. Their double reporting lines – to the Member States for the implementation of the mandate and to the Commission for everything concerning finance and procurement – have a crippling effect. Missions are operating in a fast-moving environment and need financial rules like ECHO for humanitarian aid and not like DEVCO for development projects.
  • There must be more of a spirit of burden-sharing among Member States when it comes to seconding personnel to missions. There are enormous differences between the specific efforts (defined as seconded staff per million inhabitants of the respective Member State) undertaken by them, and yet all of them participate equally in decision making, based on the principle of unanimity.
  • While in practice it cannot be avoided that Member States, sometimes markedly, express their political preferences for certain missions in the numbers of staff they second to them, they need to be aware that this kind of behaviour puts the credibility of EU external action at risk, giving the impression that certain missions serve the interests of some Member States more than others. Member States must increase their efforts to be perceived as standing collectively behind each mission – the previous term for the Council Decision establishing a mission, “Joint Action” expressed this intent very clearly.
  • Probably as a consequence of the unanimity principle, Member States have a certain tendency to micro-manage missions. Their attention to detail is in marked contrast to what they accept as Member States of the United Nations when it comes to UN peacekeeping, and of NATO missions when they are members of NATO.  It is true that these organisations are very different from the EU, but certainly the unanimity principle was not created with a view to, e.g., staffing tables of individual missions.
  • There are thus many difficulties to overcome, and they will be tackled, inter alia in the context of the forthcoming EEAS review and the Joint Communication on the Comprehensive Approach. The overall picture is one of missions getting better, lessons learnt are being applied, staff are becoming more professional, reporting more to the point, mandates better accounted for, and some of the core problems are  being addressed seriously. Again, this is an effort to retain and develop a unique instrument of the European Union’s external action in challenging environments.