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Civilian Headline Goal 2008

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Civilian Headline Goal 2008

The Civilian Headline Goal 2008 sets out the EU's ambitions for civilian ESDP for the coming years and provides a firm basis to strengthen the capabilities needed.


Civilian Headline Goal 2008, approved by the Brussels European Council on 17 December 2004 [15863/04 - Not published in the Official Journal].


The EU is determined to share in the responsibility for global security. As underlined in the European Security Strategy, civil crisis management must therefore constitute an essential component of the European Union's external policy.

Ambitions and tasks

A coherent use of Community and civilian ESDP instruments in civil crisis management situations is of key importance.

The Member States have identified six priority sectors of civil crisis management:

  • police;
  • rule of law;
  • civil administration;
  • civil protection;
  • monitoring missions;
  • support for EU special representatives.

The document also notes that the EU should be able to contribute to security sector reform and support disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes.

The EU will deploy integrated and variable civilian crisis management packages that meet specific needs on the ground and contribute to strengthening local institutions by means of advice, training, monitoring and "substitution missions".

The EU must therefore be equipped to conduct several civilian ESDP crisis management missions concurrently including at least one large civilian substitution mission:

  • at short notice;
  • in a non-benign environment.

Sustainability and the high quality of the personnel involved in civilian crisis management will have to be at the core of Member States' efforts.

Rapid reaction is key to an effective response in acute crises. The EU has set the aim of being able to take the decision to launch a mission within 5 days of the approval of the Crisis Management Concept by the Council. Specific civilian ESDP capabilities should be deployable within 30 days of the decision to launch the mission.

ESDP civilian crisis management missions can be deployed autonomously, jointly or in close cooperation with military operations. The civil-military cell plays an important role in this respect.

A clear division of labour between Community efforts and ESDP activities and close cooperation with Community activities in the planning and implementation phases of ESDP civilian missions will be an important element to ensure coherence, taking into account planned future Community activity.

Process and way ahead

The Civilian Headline Goal will be developed under the auspices of the Council. It will be overseen by the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and supported by the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM) according to a systematic approach based on four stages:

  • Development of key planning assumptions and illustrative scenarios (to be completed by April 2005).A number of strategic planning assumptions and illustrative scenarios will be developed and will serve to define the capacities necessary to achieve the 2010 Headline Goal.
  • Drawing up of a Capabilities Requirements List (to be completed by July 2005).This list sets out needs in terms of personnel, equipment, planning, logistics and mission support, as well as command and control requirements and the multifunctional capability packages required.
  • Assessment of national contributions and identification of capability shortfalls (end of 2005).Member State contributions to the Capabilities Requirements List will be examined by PSC and CIVCOM. Once the needs and resources available have been determined, the EU will be able to identify shortfalls and prioritise which resources to develop (Capabilities Improvement Plan).
  • Civilian Headline Goal follow-up processIn order to meet capability needs, a system for providing a regular review of capabilities will be adopted.

The establishment of appropriate operational planning and mission support capabilities within the Council Secretariat to ensure the ability of the EU to conduct several civilian crisis management missions simultaneously must be addressed urgently.

The Civilian Headline Goal process should take into account work of the Headline Goal 2010 process. Experts in civilian crisis management from international organisations, in particular from the UN and the OSCE, should be consulted in order to facilitate a more effective response to demands from such organisations (particularly the UN).


Given the complexity of the conflicts and crisis management situations the EU is increasingly called on to deal with, demand for civilian instruments in the framework of the ESDP is growing. The first ESDP operation authorised by the Council (EUPM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a civilian operation (2003); in December 2004, three civilian missions and a monitoring mission were operational.

At the Civilian Capabilities Improvement Conference on 22 November 2004, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the EU welcomed the progress made under the Action Plan for Civilian Aspects of ESDP and called for the establishment of the Civilian Headline Goal, which identifies needs-driven goals enabling the EU to further define and build up its civilian capabilities before 2008.


Civilian Capabilities Improvement Conference - Ministerial Declaration (PDF ). Brussels, 21 November 2005 [14713/05 (Press 306) - Not published in the Official Journal].

Civilian Capabilities Improvement Conference - Ministerial Declaration (PDF ). Brussels, 13 November 2006 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 23.02.2007