Frameworks for Participation Agreements in Crisis Management Missions between the EU and Third States

Third State participation has been a part of EU civilian CSDP since the first mission was launched in 2003. This index from EUR-Lex of Framework Participation Agreements (FPAs) provides a timeline of the EU’s broadening ties to Third States through a standardised system of bilateral agreements for CSDP. The FPAs regulate important aspects of the relationship between the parties such as initiation and termination of Third State participation, hierarchy and discipline of personnel, confidentiality of shared information, and financing of missions.

Third States have participated in civilian CSDP missions since 2003, when the first civilian CSDP mission, the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was initiated. In order to standardise the regulations by which the partnerships were conducted, the EU began designing Framework Participation Agreements (FPAs) with Third State partners in 2004. The FPAs govern the participation of Third State secondees in civilian missions and military operations. Contracted staff from Third States are not covered by the agreements since they function as private individuals employed directly by the specific mission for which they work. Some states have participated in missions without comprehensive FPAs with the EU. For example, Switzerland has signed an individual participation agreement with the EU for each mission in which it has participated, and Angola, which participated in the EUPOL Kinshasa mission (2005-07) and the EUPOL RD Congo mission that succeeded it (2007-14), has not signed any official agreements accessible through public databases.

The FPAs outline the following aspects of Third State participation:

  • Initiation and termination of participation: Specific Third States are invited to participate in specific missions and are sent the relevant Calls for Contribution by the EEAS. If an invited Third State is interested in seconding staff to the mission, they may respond as any EU member state would. Participation may be terminated by either party at any time during the operational period of the mission or at the end of the mission upon notification of the other party.
  • Hierarchy and discipline: While participating in CSDP missions, seconded staff are under the direct command of the mission leadership but remain under the authority of their seconding state as well. On deployment, the Third State's seconded contingent is represented by a National Contingent Point-of-Contact (NPC) appointed by the Third state to represent the them vis-à-vis the Head of Mission. In cases of misconduct that require disciplinary measures, the EU mission leadership has disciplinary control and the Third State is obligated to carry out disciplinary actions when needed.
  • Confidentiality: Confidential information shared between personnel and institutions of the EU and Third States will be handled by the receiving party with the official level of confidentiality that best matches that of the party providing the information.
  • Financing: Third States cover all costs of seconded personnel in the same way as EU member states. The FPAs provide a formula for determining the further contribution of Third States to the operational budget based on either the Gross National Income (GNI) of the Third State or the proportion of Third State personnel within the overall mission staff. There are generally two exemptions to operational budget contributions: 1) the EU determines that the Third State provides a significant and essential contribution, or 2) the Third State’s GNI does not exceed that of any EU member state.

In civilian CSDP, both the number of Third States participating and the quantity of staff they second have declined steadily over time. The decline has mostly been in EULEX Kosovo, which had over 100 Third State secondees in 2011, while most other missions have usually had fewer than ten each. This decline may be due to a steady increase in MS participation that has occurred at the same time. Long-term Third State partners who have participated throughout the history of civilian CSDP missions include Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and Canada. In contrast, there is considerably more participation within military operations, with Turkey in particular seconding 242 staff to EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina as of May 2021. An interesting trend is that while overall Third State participation in civilian CSDP has declined, the EU has been signing FPAs with more and more Third States, signing and ratifying 16 from 2010 to 2021, up from five before then (excluding states who are now EU members). Most of these Third States have yet to participate in any civilian CSDP missions, though more have participated in military CSDP operations.

Among the EU MS, there is little consensus on coordinating with Third States for civilian CSDP. The steady decrease in Third State participation overtime is recognised but the positions of different MS on the matter range from interest in engaging with Third States, to concern about which countries to invite to participate, to an ambivalence about approaching the matter so as not to invoke political disputes. Reaching for consensus while aiming for neutrality, the 2023 Compact addresses the topic in a single sentence: “Strengthen partnerships with like-minded third states that share EU values and objectives, including by promoting their contributions to civilian CSDP missions in accordance with agreed modalities.” The emphasis on like-mindedness and shared values neatly summarises the primary concern of MS. While there remains disagreement on which partners align most with the EU, further engagement with Third States will remain limited.

Reference: EUR-Lex. Crisis management – framework for participation agreements. Publications Office of the European Union. Accessed on: 30.01.2024

Additional sources:

Aydin-Düzgit, S., Bond, I., Scazzieri, L. (2021). EU foreign, security and defence policy co-operation with neighbours: Mapping diversity. Centre for European Reform (CER).

European Union Committee of the UK House of Lords (2018). Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations. UK Parliament.

Tardy, T. (2014). CSDP: Getting third states on board. European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS).


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