This article traces the institutional evolution of the Council Secretariat that plans and supports EU civilian peace operations. During the early days of the European Security and Defence Policy in the late 1990s competing political priorities of big EU member states and a dominance of military structures put civilian administrators at a significant disadvantage. Between 2003 and 2007, however, the rising number and complexity of civilian missions generated pressure for reform, which eventually led to the creation of a civilian headquarters. The historical analysis provides the basis for assessing the EU’s current institutional capacities for civilian crisis management. While some administrative capacity deficits have been addressed, increased institutional formalization and further politically motivated reforms may increase tensions and hamper the accumulation of expertise.
The concept of security sector reform (SSR) was first formulated by UK development actors. Since 2008, France has officially adopted an SSR strategy and promoted the concept at the European level during the country’s 2008 EU Presidency. However, what appears on paper to resemble full support from French institutions is in fact more complex. If the anglophone roots of the policy initiative do not seemingly explain its lack of institutionalization in the French context, it would appear that the difficulty faced by the French administration in finding a whole-of-government agreement on what the content of SSR should be, does.