Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2010

Common Norms and Good Practices of Civil-Military Relations in the EU

Anne Aldis, editor, Margriet Drent, editor

July 2008

Centre for European Security Studies


Civil direction of the military is the core of a system of democratic governance in defence policy and is part and parcel of the EU’s understanding of ‘alignment to European practice’ of countries aspiring to membership. The phrase is a rather vague requirement, though, since there is no such thing as one single ‘European’ practice. In fact, there are many different practices. Just as there are no Western-European democracies with identical formal and informal rules and regulations, democratic civilian control of the military differs and is shaped by context and history. At the most it is possible to formulate a minimum set of standards on what constitutes ‘democratic civilian control’ that meets general agreement and includes the notion of civil direction of defence policy-making.