Military Staff of the European Union (EUMS)

The Military Staff of the European Union is the source of the EU’s military expertise. It performs early warning, situation assessment and strategic planning for Petersberg tasks (humanitarian missions, peacekeeping and crisis management) and all EU-led operations.

The Military Staff of the European Union is made up of military experts seconded from Member States to the Council Secretariat and is the source of the EU’s military expertise. The EUMS provides an early-warning capability. It plans, assesses and makes recommendations regarding the concept of crisis management and general military strategy.


The EUMS is a Council Secretariat department. It is under the military authority of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC). It implements the decisions and guidance of the EUMC and supports it in situation assessment and military aspects of strategic planning. This concerns the full range of Petersberg tasks, including the European security strategy and all EU-led operations.

Directly attached to the Secretary-General/High Representative, the EUMS provides support, upon the request of the Secretary-General/High Representative or the Political and Security Committee (PSC), for temporary missions in third countries or international organisations.

It also ensures the link between the EUMC and the military resources available to the EU. It is responsible for monitoring, assessing and making recommendations regarding the forces and capabilities made available by the Member States to the EU. It identifies European national and multinational forces for EU-led operations, coordinating with NATO.

More specifically, the EUMS is responsible for:

  • monitoring potential crises;
  • carrying out the military aspects of strategic advance planning;
    organising and coordinating procedures with national and multinational HQs including those NATO HQs available to the EU;
  • programming, planning, conducting and evaluating the military aspect of the EU’s crisis management procedures;
  • establishing permanent relations with NATO;
  • hosting a NATO liaison team and setting up an EU team in NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE);
  • contributing to the military aspects of the ESDP and the fight against terrorism.

The EUMS will perform these tasks with due regard to NATO’s defence planning process and the planning and review process of the partnership for peace. It will also work closely with the European Defence Agency (EDA).

Crisis management and operations

The EUMS has additional functions as regards managing both crises and operations currently being conducted.

As regards crisis management, the EUMS requests and processes specific information from the intelligence organisations and other available sources. It provides military advice to the EUMC and the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and gives military guidance on strategic military options.

As regards the management of operations currently being conducted, the EUMS, acting under the direction of the EUMC, monitors all the military aspects of operations. It conducts strategic analysis in liaison with the designated operation commander. In the light of political and operational developments, it suggests new options to the EUMC as a basis for its military advice to the PSC.

Since 2004 the EUMS has been assisted by a civilian/military cell which, within the framework of the EUMS, performs such tasks as strategic planning in response to crises with a view to joint civilian/military operations.

Working through the civilian/military cell, the EUMS is responsible for providing the capacity needed to plan and manage independent EU military operations. This enables the EUMS, acting upon a recommendation from the EUMC, to set up an operations centre speedily in cases where a joint civilian/military response is required and no national HQ has been designated by the Council. The civilian/military cell is the permanent hub of the EU’s operations centre and helps coordinate civil operations.

Political and Security Committee (PSC)

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) monitors the international situation in the areas covered by the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It plays a central role in the definition of and follow-up to the European Union’s response to a crisis.

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) is a permanent structure of the Council of the European Union (EU), the creation of which is provided for by Article 38 of the Treaty on EU (formerly Article 25 of the EU Treaty).

The PSC contributes to the drafting and implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). In particular, it defines and follows up the EU’s response in the event of a crisis.

The tasks of the Political and Security Committee

The mission of the PSC is to monitor the international situation in the areas covered by the CFSP. The PSC:

  • delivers opinions to the Council in order to help define policies;
  • coordinates, supervises and monitors the work led by the different Council working groups in the area of the CFSP;
  • examines the draft conclusions of the General Affairs Council.

The PSC conducts the political dialogue by maintaining a privileged link with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the special representatives, and by providing a privileged forum for dialogue on the ESDP, with NATO for example.

The PSC sends guidelines to the Military Committee (EUMC) and receives the latter’s opinions and recommendations. The Chairman of the EUMC, who takes part, where necessary, in PSC meetings, liaises with the European Union Military Staff (EUMS).

The PSC takes responsibility, under the authority of the Council, for the political direction of the development of military capabilities. It receives the opinion of the EUMC, assisted by the EUMS.

Effective management of crises

The PSC is the Council body which deals with crisis situations and examines all the options that might be considered as the EU’s response. It is therefore for the PSC to propose to the Council the political objectives to be pursued and to recommend a cohesive set of options for resolving the crisis. In particular, the PSC may draw up an opinion recommending to the Council that it adopt a Decision on the action to be taken. Without prejudice to the role of the Commission, it supervises the implementation of the measures adopted and assesses their effects. The Commission and the Member States inform it of the measures they have adopted or are planning to take.

The Council and the Commission have powers, each within their own areas of competence and in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Treaties, to take legally binding decisions. However, under Article 38 of the TEU, the Council may authorise the PSC, for the duration of a crisis management operation, to take the relevant decisions concerning the political control and strategic direction of the operation.

In the event of a military response, the PSC exercises political control and strategic direction. On the basis of the opinions and recommendations of the EUMC, the PSC evaluates strategic military options, the operation concept and the operation plan to be submitted to the Council. With a view to launching an operation, the PSC sends the Council a recommendation based on the opinions of the EUMC. On that basis the Council decides to launch the operation within the Decision on the action to be taken, determining in particular the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in the implementation of the measures. During the operation, the High Representative, who may chair the PSC, reports to the Council. On the basis of the proceedings of the PSC, the High Representative directs the activities of the Situation Centre, which supports the PSC and provides it with intelligence on crisis management.

In a crisis situation, close coordination between the institutions is especially necessary. The Chairman of the PSC participates, where necessary, in Coreper (Permanent Representatives Committee) meetings.


At the Helsinki Summit on 10-11 December 1999 the European Council agreed to establish a Political and Security Committee. An interim committee was then set up (Decision 2000/143/CSFP). The Heads of State or Government meeting in Nice in December 2001 finally reached agreement on the establishment of a permanent Political and Security Committee.

The PSC is permanently chaired by the European External Action Service. It comprises one ambassador per Member States, a permanent representative of the European Commission, a representative of the EUMC, a representative from the Secretariat of the Council of the EU and a legal service.

Military Committee of the European Union.

The Military Committee of the European Union (EUMC) is the highest military body within the Council of the EU.

The EUMC is composed of the Chiefs of Defence (CHOD), represented by their military representatives (Milreps). It may meet at CHOD or Milrep level.

The Chairman of the Committee, who must be a four-star flag officer, is appointed by the Council on the recommendation of the Chiefs of Defence and has a term of office of three years, unless the Council decides otherwise. The Chairman represents the EUMC at the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and the Council, and chairs the EUMC meetings at Milrep and CHOD levels.

Functions of the Military Committee

The EUMC is the forum for military consultation and cooperation between the EU Member States in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management. It provides the PSC with advice and recommendations on military matters. Military advice is taken on the basis of consensus.

The EUMC can give advice and recommendations on:

  • the overall concept of crisis management in its military aspects;
  • military aspects relating to political control and to the strategic direction of operations;
  • the risk assessment of potential crises;
  • the military dimension and implications of a crisis situation;
  • the elaboration, assessment and review of objectives;
  • the financial estimation for operations and exercises;
  • military relations with applicant countries, third countries and international organisations.

In a crisis situation, the EUMC exercises military direction and gives military instructions to the European Union Military Staff (EUMS). More specifically, it:

  • issues, at the PSC’s request, an initiating directive to the Director-General of the EUMS (DGEUMS) to draw up and present strategic military options;
  • evaluates the strategic military options developed by the EUMS and forwards them to the PSC, together with its evaluation and military advice;
  • authorises, on the basis of the military option selected by the Council, an initial planning directive for the operation commander;
  • provides advice and recommendations to the PSC, based upon the EUMS evaluation, on the operation concept and draft operation plan (OPLAN) drawn up by the operation commander;
    gives advice to the PSC on the termination option for an operation.

The EUMC monitors the proper execution of military operations currently being conducted under the responsibility of the operation commander.

This article is derived from European Union public sector information. EU public information is reproduced pursuant to Commission Decision of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documents (2011/833/EU) (the EU Decision).

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