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EU Civilian Crisis Management: Law and Practice of Accountability

Head of Section:

This doctoral dissertation was awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society in 2019, and was, moreover, shortlisted for the Van Poelje Prize in the same year.

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'.

About the Project:

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.

PhD candidate



  • Moser, Carolyn: Accountability in EU Security and Defence—The Law and Practice of Peacebuilding. Oxford University Press, Oxford; New York, 2020, 336 p. OUP Website
  • Moser, Carolyn: Integrating Contrasting Approaches: Civil–Military Cooperation in CSDP. PeaceLab, 07.01.2020.
  • Moser, Carolyn: Two Become One? On the Civil–Military Amalgamation of the CSDP. Verfassungsblog, 30.03.2019.
  • Moser, Carolyn: Bring claims if you can—On the intricate arrangements for claims arising from extraterritorial EU security and defence activities. In: ZaöRV 3, 575-579 (2018).
  • Moser, Carolyn: Curtailing (informal) power—accountability lessons from the civilian dimension of EU security and defence. EU Law Enforcement, 2018.
  • Moser, Carolyn: EU civilian crisis management—Law and practice of accountability. -, Utrecht/Heidelberg, 2018, 336 p., PhD thesis
  • Moser, Carolyn: ¿Union de droit, Union de sécurité? Sobre la interacción entre actuación interior y exterior respecto a los valores y normas de la UE. In: La jurisdicción constitucional en la tutela de los Derechos Funda-mentales de la Unión Europea, J.I. Ugartemendia/ A. Saiz Arnaiz/ M. Morales Antoniazzi (ed.). Instituto Vasco de Administración Pública; MPIL, Oñati 2017, 91-130.
  • Moser, Carolyn: Awakening dormant law—or the invocation of the European mutual assistance clause after the Paris attacks. Verfassungsblog, 18.11.2015.
  • Moser, Carolyn: Peace—Europe's Polyphonic Promise. In: MaxPlanckResearch 2, 10-15 (2015). Article in pdf-version
  • Moser, Carolyn: Revisiting the Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy: novel approaches and complementary insights. In: Public Administration 93 (1), 255-261 (2015). DOI: 10.1111/padm.12150


Summer Term 2017

Security and defence—from laggard to frontrunner of European integration?

Elsa spring conference, Law Faculty, University of Freiburg (D), 27.5.2017

Winter Term 2016

Peace-keeping operations. Past trajectory and future challenges

ITLOS-programme, Heidelberg, 13.12.2016

Summer Term 2015

Peace keeping quo vadis?

Colloquium 'Current Developments of International Law', Law Faculity, University of Heidelberg, 18.05.2015


The PhD project concisely outlined on one page.


Moser_PhD_Poster (PDF, 209.4 KB)