Maj. Gen. João Nuno Jorge Vaz Antunes


The ‘pilgrims’ of the EU security architecture
realized that . . . intelligence capabilities are a
prerequisite for mission accomplishment.
Of all the prerogatives of states, security and
defence policy is probably the one which least lends
itself to a collective European approach; however,
after the single currency, it is in this dimension
that the Union has made the most rapid and spectacular
progress over the last five years.

Secretary General/High
Representative Dr. Javier Solana[1]
Today, a European security and defense policy is not a
vision, but a reality. In only a few years and at
breathtaking speed, the European Union (EU) has put in
place not only the conceptual framework for a new
security strategy but also the instruments to deal
with present challenges. Political and military
committees are an expression of this development, as
is the EU Military Staff.

The “pilgrims” of this architecture realized from the
very beginning that functioning intelligence
capabilities are a prerequisite for mission
accomplishment. The EU Military Staff’s Intelligence
Division is recognized as one of the instruments
within an EU Intelligence Community, bringing together
various sources such as civilian services; law
enforcement and police authorities; diplomatic,
economic, and political reporting; and, last but not
least, what could be labeled “military intelligence.”
From the start, the Intelligence Division has
proactively pursued close cooperation and coordination
with other EU early warning bodies, thus contributing
to intelligence products needed for EU decisionmaking.
It will remain a feature and strength of the European
Union that it is the only multinational organization
with economic, commercial, humanitarian, political,
diplomatic, and military resources at its disposal.
This multifaceted approach finds its reflection in the
way the EU is dealing with intelligence requirements.

The Intelligence Division depends on EU member states
and their defense intelligence organizations. The
procedures in place allow for close cooperation with
member states and day-to-day coordination among EU
early warning bodies. As Europe’s security and defense
policy develops further and structures and procedures
are adapted to new circumstances and challenges, such
close cooperation will become even more salient. The
Division has found its place in what can be called an
“orchestra of instruments” playing from the same
“sheet of music” to provide comprehensive and timely
intelligence for EU decisionmakers.


The EU General Secretariat’s main building in
Brussels—the Justus Lipsius Building, located opposite
the well-known Berlaymont and Charlemagne Buildings at
the Schuman traffic circle—still holds some surprises
for its visitors and employees. One of them is
spotting colorful uniforms among the many
business-suited people in the hallways and meeting
rooms. Inevitably questions arise as to the reason for
the presence of military officers within the EU
environment. While some assume the uniformed
individuals are “politically interested visitors,”
they would, if asked, introduce themselves as members
of the European Union Military Staff, working for Dr.
Javier Solana on military matters related to European
security and defense policy.

Three compelling political factors have fueled the
relatively rapid development of an EU security and
defense policy. First, a growing number of crises and
situations of international instability have arisen in
the EU’s strategic environment, both in its
neighborhood and in more distant parts of the world.
Second, in a globalized, chaotic world, it is no
longer possible to artificially separate prosperity
and security. The economic and commercial influence
now achieved by the EU’s 25 members–which account for
a quarter of the world’s GNP and 450 million
inhabitants–and the closer integration of their
economies means that Europe can no longer stand
comfortably aside from the world’s convulsions or
evade its political responsibilities. Finally, the
EU’s framework makes multilateralism logical and
unavoidable in the management of international crises.

The decision by the Cologne European Council in June
1999 “to give the European Union the necessary means
and capabilities to assume its responsibilities
regarding a Common European Policy on Security and
Defence” marked the starting point of an entirely new
chapter in European history.[2] Indeed, the EU
Security and Defence Policy of today is no longer a
vision but a reality, as are its instruments, such as
the new committees—namely, the Political and Security
Committee, the Civil Committee, and the European Union
Military Committee—and the new elements of the EU
Council General Secretariat, such as the EU Policy
Unit,[3] the Joint Situation Center, and the EU
Military Staff, located just three blocks away from
the Justus Lipsius Building on Corthenberg Avenue,

A Distinct Departure

The establishment of the Military Staff within the EU
structure marked the introduction of a military facet
into what was formerly considered a strictly
politico-diplomatic-economic organization.
Notwithstanding the fact that EU members had clearly
endorsed the introduction of a security policy into
the overall EU framework and the establishment of the
necessary staff elements, it took some time until the
visible military presence within EU premises was taken
for granted and the need for military advice and
contributions in an overall EU crisis management
process was fully acknowledged by all EU actors.

From the very beginning, the Military Staff has been
looked at as but one instrument in an orchestrated,
multifaceted approach to security policy. Members of
the Staff, seconded by EU member states, quickly came
to consider themselves as part of an EU team,
consisting of civilian, police, and military
personnel, all working closely together to make
security policy a reality. The full establishment of
the Military Staff took about a year, after a short
build-up period in 2001. During that time, decisions
were made regarding such complex internal activities
as designing infrastructure and information
technology, managing the influx of personnel,
overseeing working conditions, and developing internal

By 2003, a common basis for EU-led crisis management
operations had been laid. That year saw four EU
operations launched: the EU Police Mission in Bosnia
and Herzegovina; Operation CONCORDIA in the former
Yugoslavia; Operation ARTEMIS in the Democratic
Republic of Congo; and a second Police Mission,
PROXIMA, in the Balkans. In July 2004, EUJUST THEMIS
in Georgia represented the first EU rule-of-law
mission in the context of European defense policy.
And, finally, the transfer of authority from NATO-led
forces to EU Operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and
Herzegovina in December 2004 marked another major step
in the evolution of European security policy. The EU
Military Staff was a major player in the planning and
coordination of these actions, especially Operations

Mission and Structure

Based on decisions of the December 1999 Helsinki
European Council, the EU Military Staff provides
military expertise and support for the implementation
of security and defense policy, including the conduct
of EU-led military crisis management operations. To
this end, the Staff performs three tasks: early
warning, situation assessment, and strategic planning.

As an integral element of the EU Council General
Secretariat, the Military Staff is labeled a “General
Directorate” and is headed by a “Director General”
(DG) who is a three-star flag officer. The DG reports
to the Secretary General/High Representative, Dr.
Solana. At the same time, the Staff is what can be
considered the “working muscle” of the European Union
Military Committee, comprising the permanent
representatives of the chiefs of defense of the 25 EU
member states.[4]

It is important to note that the Military Staff has no
subordinate standing headquarters to carry out any of
its tasks. Instead, the EU crisis management
procedures foresee a number of so-called “operations
headquarters” that could be activated on the basis of
an EU Council decision, if needed. For this purpose,
five EU members have offered national headquarters,
which would turn into multinational EU operations
headquarters for a particular EU-led crisis management
operation.[5] Likewise, lower echelon staffs, such as
force headquarters, would be allocated to member
states as an EU crisis management process proceeds. In
the particular case of an EU-led crisis management
operation with recourse to NATO assets and
capabilities, SHAPE at Mons/Belgium is the designated
EU operations headquarters.[6]

Every now and then, people argue that the EU’s
organization is cumbersome, difficult to understand,
and—at any rate– overstaffed. This is not quite right
with regard to the Military Staff. The Staff was
originally structured along classical military lines,
with a director at three-star flag rank, a two-star
deputy serving as chief of staff, and five divisions,
each headed by a one-star director. The five divisions
are: Policy and Plans; Intelligence; Operations and
Exercises; Logistics and Resources; and
Communications, Information, and Security.

Given the range of tasks allocated, the number of EU
agencies and organizations to coordinate with, and the
complexity of the EU crisis management decision
process, the Military Staff is run by an astonishingly
small number of people. Some 140 peacetime posts were
approved by the member states, the providers of the
personnel. These officers carry out a growing number
of tasks in an increasingly visible EU security and
defense policy environment. One of the greatest
challenges, and a key feature of the Staff’s work, is
the requirement to coordinate and cooperate on a daily
basis with civilian colleagues from other EU bodies.
It cannot be emphasized enough that it is this unique
mix of civilian and military capabilities that makes
the difference between the European Union and other
multinational organizations, and that constitutes the
added value of EU security and defense policy

The Intelligence Division

Common threat assessments are the best basis for
common action. This requires improved sharing of
intelligence among Member States and with partners.[7]

The Intelligence Division, comprising 33 individuals
from 19 member states, is the largest component of the
EU Military Staff, reflecting its tasks and particular
working procedures. It will come as no surprise that
the Military Staff’s Intelligence Division follows a
classic organizational pattern. Its three
branches—Policy, Requirements, and Production—are led
by full colonels. As a rule, positions of branch chief
and above are “non-quota posts,” eligible to be filled
by any member state on a three-year-turnover basis.
Positions of action officers and non-commissioned
officers are “quota posts,” allocated to respective
member states.

Intelligence Policy Branch— Develops
intelligence-related concepts, doctrines, and
procedures, in coordination with relevant civilian EU
bodies, and manages intelligence-related personnel,
infrastructure, and communications matters. For crisis
management procedures and EU-led operations, the
Policy Branch creates appropriate intelligence
architecture and procedures. For EU exercises, it
prepares scenarios and intelligence specifications. It
is responsible for coordinating the Intelligence
Division’s contributions in support of other Military
Staff elements. The Policy Branch also organizes the
Military Staff’s Intelligence Directors Conclave, an
annual informal exchange on EU intelligence matters
between the directors of defense intelligence
organizations in the member states and the EU Military

Requirements Branch—Fosters the relationship with EU
member states’ defense intelligence organizations,
including arranging regular bilateral meetings and
maintaining a system of points-of-contact to ensure
direct links with member intelligence organizations.
The Requirements Branch handles the distribution of
requests for information. It also coordinates with the
EU satellite center at Torrejon, Spain, and develops
Military Staff inputs for the EU ISTAR (Intelligence,
Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance)

Production Branch—Develops the classified “EU
Watchlist” in coordination with other EU early warning
bodies, such as the Policy Unit, the Joint Situation
Center, and the EU Commission. Updated on a regular
basis, the Watchlist focuses on areas or issues of
security concern. It is adopted by the Political and
Security Committee. The Watchlist constitutes the
common basis for intelligence exchanges with member
states’ defense intelligence organizations. The
Production Branch is organized into five task forces
covering specific geographic regions and one task
force for transnational issues. It contributes to
all-source situation assessments, in cooperation
mainly with the Joint Situation Center, and also
produces regular intelligence briefs for the Military
Staff and “on-the-spot” intelligence assessments for
the Military Staff, the Military Committee, and the
Secretary General.

Relations with Member States

Similar to other multinational military organizations,
the EU Intelligence Division does not have its own
collection capabilities—with the exception of the
aforementioned EU Satellite Center—and depends almost
entirely on member states’ intelligence contributions.
This dependence parallels EU structures as a whole.

The Division’s three main tasks—early warning,
situation assessment, and strategic planning—can only
be carried out appropriately if and when timely and
comprehensive intelligence is available. The founders
of the Intelligence Division quickly realized that it
would take a particular type of relationship between
the Military Staff and member states’ defense
intelligence organizations and particular procedures
for EU intelligence production to meet this

The Intelligence Division works on strengthening
critically needed collaboration in four ways:

First, the Division maintains strong links with
national defense intelligence organizations through
regular updates of what intelligence is required in
terms of regions, issues, and timelines. Visits to
capitals and, in turn, bilateral meetings in Brussels
with member-state representatives support the
development of a mutual understanding of EU Military
Staff requirements, on the one hand, and the strengths
(and sometimes limitations) of members’ organizations,
on the other hand. In this context, the EU Watchlist
is a useful tool. The continuous dialog on Watchlist
matters enables the EU Military Staff to submit
requests for information on a case-by-case basis to
those defense intelligence organizations that can
contribute to a particular intelligence product.

Second, the Intelligence Division has refined its
points-of-contact system so that officers seconded by
member states and filling intelligence analyst posts
for particular regions or subjects act in a secondary
function as interfaces with (and representatives of)
their home organizations, maintaining secure
communication links to their parent services. This
arrangement facilitates “on the spot” coordination,
resulting in more responsive and precise intelligence
products for EU purposes.

Third, taking into account the experiences of other
multinational organizations, the Division never tries
to produce “EU agreed intelligence products.” The
Military Staff receives finished intelligence from
members’ defense intelligence organizations, which are
marked releasable to the EU. The Production Branch
then uses these inputs, without any reference to
sources, for the development of its own intelligence
products, labeled “EU Military Staff Intelligence
Division,” thereby taking full responsibility for
their contents and conclusions. The same rule applies
to the Division’s contributions to the Joint Situation
Center’s all-source situation assessments. All
finalized EU intelligence products are, in turn, sent
to member defense intelligence organizations for their

Fourth, the Division cooperates daily with civilian
early warning bodies, ensuring that the requirement of
a comprehensive, “joint” intelligence approach is met.
Information available at the Joint Situation Center,
the Policy Unit, and the EU Commission makes for quite
a heterogeneous information picture, which is
supplemented by “military intelligence.” Merging all
these pieces of information into comprehensive and
sound intelligence products is a considerable
challenge. Apart from its role as a proactive player
in the EU Intelligence Community, the Intelligence
Division holds sole responsibility for assessments of
the security situation in a given country or region.
Especially in the event of an emerging crisis or an
EU-led crisis management operation with a military
component, the Military Staff carries the primary
responsibility for assessing the risks and their
implications for force and mission protection.

The Way Ahead

Only five years old, the EU security and defense
policy is still just beginning. Crisis management
activities are complex in nature and, in most cases,
require the use of both civilian and military means
and capabilities. As stated earlier, it is exactly
this mix that makes the EU role in crisis management
so unique. The European Council in December 2003
directed the Council General Secretariat to “enhance
the capacity of the [Military Staff] to conduct early
warning, situation assessment, and strategic planning
through the establishment . . . of a cell with
civil/military components.” This new civil/military
cell, established in the summer of 2005 as an
additional division of the EU Military Staff, is
headed by a one-star flag officer with a civilian
deputy and comprises some 30 military and civilian
personnel. Beside its strategic tasks— contingency
planning and crisis response planning—the cell
provides temporary reinforcement to national
operations headquarters and support for the generation
of an EU operations center when needed to oversee
autonomous EU operations, in particular when a joint
civilian-military response is required and no national
headquarters has been identified. The civil/military
cell is slated to include one intelligence planner,
and the operations center is to have a limited, but
self-sustainable, intelligence working element,
provided by both the EU Intelligence Division
(“double-hatted”) and member states. The new cell and
the operations center, when activated, will constitute
additional recipients for EU intelligence products.

It goes without saying that the intelligence element
in the new civil/military cell will rely heavily on
the expertise and manpower of the EU Intelligence
Division. In this regard, current relations with other
Military Staff divisions will not significantly alter;
however, they will become more focused on this “new”
division. It remains to be seen what impact staffing
demands will have on the remaining Division personnel
still fulfilling “regular” staff work and tasks beyond
crisis management operations.

Clearly, cooperation and coordination among the
various EU early warning bodies is likely to become
even more important. Indeed, the Intelligence Division
is determined to work to this end, bringing its own
expertise even closer together with the significant
capabilities available to the Joint Situation Center,
the Policy Unit, and especially the EU Commission. The
latter has considerable information gathering
capabilities, mainly through its comprehensive
open-source exploitation mechanism. In addition, the
EU Commission is a main addressee of frequent and
substantial  situation reporting provided by its
mission delegations around the globe.

So far, the EU Intelligence Division has not done
badly and has developed a recognized standing as an
expert on military and security issues. It remains a
challenge, however, to develop EU intelligence
capabilities further in order to meet the challenges
of tomorrow’s problems.



[1]Preface to EU Security and Defence Policy–The First
Five Years (1999–2004) (Paris: Institute for Strategic
Studies, 2004).

[2]It was also at the Cologne Council meeting that Dr.
Solana was appointed the first Secretary General/High
Representative for the Common Foreign and Security

[3]The full title being the Policy Planning and Early
Warning Unit of the High Representative for Common
Foreign and Security Policy.

[4]Most of the EU member states’ military
representatives on the EU Military Committee are
“double-hatted,” representing their chiefs of defense
also on the NATO Military Committee.

[5]France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and the UK.
Operation ARTEMIS, for example, was conducted by an EU
operations headquarters in Paris.

[6]This was successfully exercised in Operation
CONCORDIA. An even more challenging operation for the
EU operations headquarters at SHAPE commenced in
December 2004 with the transfer of authority from NATO
to EU Operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

[7]From “A Secure Europe in a Better World,” the
European security strategy adopted by EU heads of
state and government at the Brussels European Council,
12 December 2003.


Maj. Gen. João Nuno Jorge Vaz Antunes directs the
European Union Military Staff’s Intelligence Division.