Written by Jacopo Maria Bosica
Edited by Miguel Andres Reyes Castro
Supervised by Cansu Macit Karaduman
The EU founding treaties enshrine two clauses in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)., These clauses oblige Member States to coordinate their efforts through the Council of the EU to support a Member State suffering from armed aggression, terrorist attacks and natural or man-made disasters. Over time, they have come to be referred to as the mutual assistance clause (Art. 42(7) of the Treaty on the European Union, TEU) and the solidarity clause (Art. 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, TFEU). Recourse to them has been almost negligible, as Art. 42(7) has been invoked only by France after the Paris terrorist attacks on 13 November 2015. On the one hand, this should remind us of national governments’ reluctance to surrender their competences in defence matters and of the dangers of overlap with NATO’s core mission, thus making political consensus difficult to reach the EU level. On the other hand, given the relatively recent entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, Member States still lack familiarity with such provisions, which arguably have a hidden potential which, if exploited, might help the EU establish itself as a credible crisis management actor.
This info flash contributes to unpack such hidden potential by outlining the cumbersome gestation of the two clauses over the last few decades (section I). It then analyses their content and the relative member states’ legal obligations (section II) to compare between the instances where they can be invoked and the role EU institutions play in their implementation (section IV). Some brief reflections between these two sections, clarify the absence of overlap with NATO collective defence commitments (section III). The info flash concludes with some recommendations to shed light on the wording of the two articles and alternative arrangements for their smoother implementation.