European Union Military Staff

The Military Staff of the European Union (EUMS) is the directorate-general of the European Union's (EU) External Action Service (EEAS) that contributes to the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) by providing strategic advice to the High Representative (HR/VP) and commanding operations through its Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) operational headquarters. Presently the MPCC may only run non-executive operations. By the end of 2020 the MPCC will also be capable of running executive operations of up to 2500 troops, i.e. the size of one battle group.[1]

European Union Military Staff
Coat of arms
Allegiance European Union
TypeMilitary staff
RoleSupervises CSDP operations, provides strategic advice to the High Representative, reports to the EUMC.
Size200+ personnel
Part ofEuropean External Action Service
LocationAvenue de Cortenbergh 150, Brussels, Belgium
High Repr.Josep Borrell
Director GeneralLieutenant General Esa Pulkkinen
Deputy Director GeneralMajor General Giovanni Manione

The EUMS also reports to the European Union Military Committee (EUMC), representing member states' Chiefs of Defence, and performs "early warning", situation assessment and strategic planning.

The EUMS currently consists of 200+ military and civilian personnel, and is located in the Kortenberg building in Brussels.


Location of the Kortenberg building in Brussels

1993–2000: Background

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was introduced as a pillar of the EU by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993, based on the earlier 1970 European Political Cooperation (EPC). The CFSP was to include ‘all questions related to the security of the Union, including the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence’.

In December 1998 the Franco-British Saint-Malo declaration stated that the EU ‘must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises’. This marked a British change of course, as it previously had blocked any development of EU autonomous military capabilities.

At the European Council in Cologne in June 1999 the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) - formed in 1996 as a project between Western European Union's (WEU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) - was transfererred to the EU and renamed the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The main goal of this newly established CSDP was to deal with crisis management outside EU territory.

2001: Creation as a Council body

In 2000 and 2001 a number of Council bodies were established as part of the ESDP:

  • Political and Security Committee (PSC), a preparatory body of ambassadorial level representatives thar observes the international situation, helps to define CFSP and ESDP policies and prepares a coherent EU response to a crisis
  • EU Military Committee (EUMC), the Council's highest military body, composed of member states' Chiefs of Defence, who are regularly represented by their permanent military representatives. The EUMC provides the PSC with advice and recommendations on all military matters within the EU.
  • European Union Military Staff (EUMS), a part of the General Secretariat whose primary task was to by EUMC's working and advisory body

In 2003 the Treaty of Nice provided the ESDP's legal foundation, in terms of competences, organisation, structures and assets.

2009: Transfer to the External Action Service

Upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 the EUMS was transferred from the Council's General Secretariat to become a Directorate-General (DG) of the newly established European External Action Service (EEAS) - the EU's diplomatic service, a hybrid Council-Commission body resulting from a merger of the external relations departments of the Council and relevant international relations departments of the European Commission.

2016: Addition of the MPCC

In 2016 European Union Global Strategy was presented by HR Federica Mogherini and welcomed by the European Council. The implementation of this strategy in the field of CSDP has included the establishment of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), which gives the EUMS the role of commanding operations directly.


The EUMS performs a supervisory function in relation to Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations:

The EUMS has supervised a number of deployments since its establishment.


The relationship between the High Representative, the Military Staff and Military Committee as of November 2017:[2] Colour key:
     High Representative (a Vice-President of the Commission)
     Military Committee (EUMC; a Council body)
     Military Staff (EUMS; a Directorate-General of the External Action Service)

High Representative

Chairman EUMC
Working Group

Working Group/Headline Goal Task Force
Director General EUMS/
Director MPCC
Legal advisor
Deputy Director General
Horizontal Coordination
Assistant Chief of Staff for SynchronisationEU cell at SHAPE
EU Liaison at the UN in NYAssistant Chief of Staff for External Relations
NATO Permanent Liaison Team
Concepts & Capabilities
Communications & Information Systems
Military Planning and
Conduct Capability
Chief of Staff
Working Group
Current Operations

The EUMS is a Directorate-General of the External Action Service (EADS) that is located in the Kortenberg building in Brussels and currently consists of 200+ military and civilian personnel.

Director General

The EUMS is led by the Director General (DGEUMS, a three-star general).[3]

Since 2017 DGEUMS has also served as Director of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability, and as such assumes the function of the single commander for all non-executive military missions, exercising command and control over the current three training Missions and other possible future non-executive military Missions.

DGEUMS is assisted by the Deputy Director General and the Chef of Staff (DDG/COS, a two-star general).[4]

Military Planning and Conduct Capability

The Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) is an EUMS facility that provides a permanent operational headquarters at the military strategic level for military operations. The MPCC reports to the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and informing the European Union Military Committee (EUMC).[5]

Presently the MPCC may only run non-executive operations. By the end of 2020 the MPCC will also be capable of running executive operations of up to 2500 troops, i.e. the size of one battle group.[6]

The MPCC cooperates with its existing civilian counterpart, the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), through a Joint Support Coordination Cell (JSCC).


The EUMS has five directorates, each led by a one-star commander.[7]

Concepts and Capabilities

The Concepts and Capabilities Directorate (CON/CAP) is responsible for EUMS concepts, doctrine and the planning and development of capabilities including crisis management exercises, training, analysis and lessons learned, and for cooperation with the European Defence Agency (EDA), ensuring coherency between the EU military concepts and the crisis management procedures.[8]


The Intelligence Directorate (INT) has the following tasks:[9]

  • To provide intelligence input to early warning and situation assessment
  • To contribute to the EUMS planning through the provision of intelligence and intelligence planning expertise
  • To provide the intelligence input to crisis response planning and assessment for operations and exercises.


The Operations Directorate (OPS) has the following tasks:[10]

  • To plan military crisis management operations, including post-launch strategic crisis response planning
  • To develop strategic advance and crisis response planning, including early military assessment and planning in support of informed decision making
  • To monitor all CSDP operations and to generate the capacity to plan and run an autonomous operation.


The Logistics Directorate (LOG) provides administrative support, logistic planning expertise, logistic concepts, doctrine related to crisis response planning. LOG also assesses operations and exercises.[11]

Communication and Information Systems

The Communication and Information Systems Directorate (CIS) has the following tasks:[12]

  • To develop the EUMS' policies and guidance for implementation, operation and maintenance of communication and information systems, in support of CSDP activities.
  • To contribute to EUMS planning through the provision of CIS planning expertise at the strategic and operational level
  • To provide the CIS element of crisis response planning and assessment for operations and exercises.

Other units

Other units at the EUMS include:[13]

  • ACOS Synchronisation unit, which assists the Chief of Staff in the coordination and synchronization of the EUMS internal processes and information flows, to facilitate and canalise the support the EUMS provides to the Chairman of the EUMC, and to support him in the preparation and management of meetings.
  • ACOS external relations unit, which develops policy for, and maintain the military dimension of, all EUMS' external relations in close cooperation with EEAS Management Directorates and the CMPD. This involves coordinating military-to-military cooperation with International Organisations, Strategic Partners; and Third States. The office is also responsible for all Public Information/Press Relations issues in close collaboration with the EEAS Strategic Communications Division.
  • EU cell at SHAPE (EUCS), a unit that prepares for EU operations having recourse to NATO common assets and capabilities under Berlin plus arrangements and to support DSACEUR in his role as a potential operational commander for an EU-led operation. It contributes to full transparency between NATO and the EU embodying their strategic partnership in crisis management.

Role in command and control of missions

The EU command and control (C2) structure, as directed by political bodies which are composed of member states's representatives and generally require unanimous decisions, as of April 2019:[14]

Liaison:          Advice and recommendations          Support and monitoring          Preparatory work     
Political strategic level:
Chain of command
HR/VP (PSC) (******)


Military/civilian strategic level:

Dir MPCC (***) (MPCC)
Civ OpCdr CPCC(*)
Operational level:
MFCdr (****) (MFHQ)
HoM (*)
Tactical level:
CC(**) Land
CC(**) Air
CC(**) Mar
Other CCs(**)

*In the event of a CSDP Civilian Mission also being in the field, the relation with the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) and its Civilian Operation Commander (Civ OpCdr), as well as the subordinate Head of Mission (HoM), are coordinated as shown.
**Other Comonent Commanders (CCs) and service branches which may be established
***The MPCC is part of the EUMS and Dir MPCC is double-hatted as DGEUMS. Unless the MPCC is used as Operation Headquarters (OHQ), either a national OHQ offered by member states or the NATO Command Structure (NCS) would serve this purpose. In the latter instance, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), rather than Dir MPCC, would serve as Operation Commander (OpCdr).
****Unless the MPCC is used as Operation Headquarters (OHQ), the MFCdr would be known as a Force Commander (FCdr), and direct a Force Headquarters (FHQ) rather than a MFHQ. Whereas the MFHQ would act both on the operational and tactical level, the FHQ would act purely on the operational level.
*****The political strategic level is not part of the C2 structure per se, but represents the political bodies, with associated support facilities, that determine the missions' general direction. The Council determines the role of the High Representative (HR/VP), who serves as Vice-President of the European Commission, attends European Council meetings, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and may chair the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in times of crisis. The HR/VP proposes and implements CSDP decisions.
******Same composition as Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) II, which also prepares for the CSDP-related work of the FAC.

See also

Further reading

  • Major-General Graham Messervy-Whiting, "The European Union's Nascent Military Staff," RUSI Journal (December 2000)


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