An extended version of the thesis was published with Oxford University Press (2020) under the title Accountability in EU Security and Defence—The Law and Practice of Peacebuilding. The monograph won the 2020 European Court of Auditors Award on the theme 'EU added value'.
Unknown to many, the EU has since 2003 launched more than 20 civilian missions across Europe, Africa and Asia under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The mandates of these peacebuilding missions cover rule of law support, police training, border assistance, security sector reform, and military capacity building. Currently, some 2,500 experts—lawyers, police and customs officers as well as security sector specialists—work in ten ongoing missions.
But who is accountable (to whom) for these manifold extraterritorial activities, all of which touch upon core State functions? Rooted in a constitutional perspective on accountability, which is defined as a three-stage mechanism (Bovens, 2007), the rule of law standard serves as a fil conducteur when exploring accountability arrangements in EU civilian crisis management.
The thesis begins by inquiring the governance credentials of civilian CSDP and shows that EU civilian crisis management is intergovernmental in form, but in substance Europeanized. Building on this observation, the thesis subsequently investigates de jure and de facto accountability arrangements in EU civilian crisis management existing in Member States, on the EU plane, and across levels. Based on an in-depth study of legal sources and empirical data, the thesis scrutinizes political, legal, and administrative accountability mechanisms, and furthermore assesses the appropriateness of current accountability arrangements based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative criteria.
The findings paint a nuanced picture. Notwithstanding an accountability deficit observed de jure, several EU players—notably the European Parliament, the Court of Justice of the EU, the European Ombudsman, and the European Court of Auditors—have through practice significantly increased parliamentary scrutiny, judicial review, and administrative oversight in civilian CSDP. In addition, the civilian crisis management structures themselves have—also due to outside pressure—modified internal processes and institutional arrangements to improve framework conditions, notably regarding administrative issues.
In sum, checks and balances are stronger at EU than at Member State level, and individuals have de facto better—even though not perfect— redress options at the supranational level. Instead of aiming for codification by Treaty law, the thesis suggests to consolidate the de facto accountability acquis at EU level by means of interinstitutional practice and agreements as well as by administrative rules and regulations.