Uutinen 12.6.2008

EU security guarantees a matter of strong significance in policy and in principle

The clause on the obligations of mutual assistance, or security guarantees, contained in the European Union’s Treaty of Lisbon, bind the Member States in particular, State Secretary Teija Tiilikainen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs said on 10 April at the public launching of her report on the issue, which is also mentioned in the Government Programme. According to Tiilikainen, in the long term security guarantees may provide a base for development of the Union’s defence cooperation, but they have no immediate effects on EU military cooperation systems or on the joint preparedness of the Member States.

The mutual assistance clause is one element of the broad solidarity of the EU Member States. For the majority, or 21 of the Member States, joint NATO defence continues to offer the base for defence cooperation. The clause does not create military leadership systems for the EU. In the long term, both NATO’s own development and trends in the European security policy situation will affect the significance of the mutual assistance clause written into the Lisbon Treaty, Tiilikainen stresses.

No EU competence, but an issue of the Member States

In her report, Tiilikainen assessed the EU mutual assistance clause from the legal, political and military perspectives. With regard to the legal aspect, the clause means a uniform obligation of international law for all the Member States, not for the EU. The clause means an obligation to the come to the aid of a Member State or Member States whose territory is attacked. In Tiilikainen’s view, the decision to implement the obligation for assistance should be taken unanimously by all the Member States.

Tiilikainen also considers it possible that the clause could be applied in situations other than a military threat proper. What that could mean in practice remains to be seen and is for later interpretations. The process of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty is currently underway in the EU Member States.

The clause does not reduce the need for international defence policy cooperation

In her report, Tiilikainen concludes that for Finland, the mutual assistance clause of the Lisbon Treaty is of strong significance in policy and in principle. With the entry into force of the Treaty, in her view, Finland should evaluate the extent to which there would be reason to give greater emphasis to the commitment contained in the obligation.

Finland should also evaluate whether the country should make legislative preparations for a situation where assistance would be given to another state through use of force. At present, Finnish legislation has no such entries, Tiilikainen stated.

According to Tiilikainen, the obligation to assist has no immediate effects on Finland’s military preparedness so long as it is not reflected in the EU common preparedness system or defence plans. Nor does the mutual assistance clause reduce Finland’s need to participate in international defence policy cooperation or crisis management cooperation being done in other connections.

Tiilikainen thought that, for instance, deepening of defence policy cooperation between the Nordic countries or cooperation and development of compatibility in the sphere of the NATO Partnership for Peace, on the contrary, might be arrangements supporting the EU Common Security and Defence Policy.

Report part of the Government Programme

The report of Teija Tiilikainen now completed and the report on NATO compiled by Antti Sierla and released in December 2007, both written in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, are part of the Government Programme of Matti Vanhanen’s second Government. Tiilikainen emphasised that her report strives to shed light on the significance of the mutual assistance clause contained in the Lisbon Treaty, not to draw any political conclusions.

Report – The clause on the obligations of mutual assistance, or security guarantees, contained in the European Union’s Treaty of Lisbon
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland 2008
(PDF 2347 kB)

An abstract in English (MFA, PDF 45 kB)