War games: The EU tests its "crisis management" procedures
From 1 to 26 October, the EU and Member State institutions will undertake Multi Layer 2012, a crisis management exercise based on "the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in a fictitious region, where the states of 'Nusia' and 'Recuria' face the challenge of post-conflict transition, as well as issues such as border delimitation, landmines and maritime piracy."
The goal of ML12 is to "exercise the EU's crisis response system in a fictitious crisis situation requiring a military operation as well as a civilian mission in the framework of Common Security and Defence Policy, as well as their interaction with other EU crisis response and management structures," according to a press release issued by the European External Action Service (EEAS). 
A document issued by the French permanent representation to the EU says that "an exercise of this magnitude, playing on three planning levels, from policy makers to the commanders of military and civilian operation, is still new in the EU and will require exceptional coordination measures." 
The EEAS, which was established via the Lisbon Treaty in part to "restore order to the institutional and procedural labyrinth governing the EU's external action",  agrees with the French perspective, according to a spokesperson, Sebastien Brabant. While it is steeped in jargon, the EEAS' response to questions from Statewatch seems to make clear that some significant developments are afoot, with ML12 testing:
"The interaction among EU institutional actors and Member States; the relevant services of the EEAS, in particular the interaction between the HQ and the EU delegations; the EEAS internal crisis response procedures; the conduct of operational planning from the political strategic level to the civilian and military operational level up to the drafting of a civilian and military concept of operation and operation plans."
The exercise is also an opportunity to test "a proposal for revised crisis management procedures for Common Security and Defence Policy activities." In July, the Foreign Affairs Council noted "the ongoing revision of crisis management procedures aimed at accelerating and improving the effectiveness of CSDP planning, decision-making, execution and evaluation The Council looks forward to concrete proposal on this revision by the end of the year."
The Council also hinted that more money might be necessary: "Existing financial rules and procedures could be examined in order to better reflect the operational needs of CSDP." 
An annual event
The EU's crisis management exercises take place annually. Last year, MILEX 11 involved about two hundred "players", and the EU's Force Headquarters in Ulm, Germany deployed an unknown number of troops as part of the exercises.  For ML12, said Brabant, "no troops will be deployed."
ML12 is a "table top" or "command post" exercise, played out via computer and phoneline, involving "several hundred personnel, both civilian and military," according to Brabant, who went on to say that "the exact figure is difficult to determine as it includes the personnel in various ministries of Member States capitals, in delegations, in addition to staff at Headquarters of the Council General Secretariat, the Commission, and the EEAS."
Agostino Miozzo, the EEAS Managing Director for Crisis Response and Operational Coordination will be in charge of the exercise, and will have under his command Directing Staff (or DISTAFF in the EU's terminology), which will "direct, monitor and control the exercise, in order to create the environment that will allow the training audience to achieve the exercise aims and objectives. The DISTAFF will coordinate its activities with national DISTAFF elements in capitals." 
During ML12 the Political and Security Committee - the "lynchpin of of the European security and defence policy and of the Common Foreign and Security Policy", with "a central role to play in the definition of and follow-up to the EU's response in a crisis"  - will also "exercise its role to provide the political control and strategic direction of the military CSDP operation and civilian CSDP mission."
The Political and Security Committee was established 2001 and is permanently chaired by the EEAS. It is made up of the Permanent Representatives of Member States based in Brussels, a permanent representative of the European Commission, a representative of the European Military Committee and a representative of the Council, and has its own legal service. 
It played a significant role in the design and preparation of ML12, approving documents drawn up by the Politico-Military Group - another obscure EU working group described as "a negotiating body within the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)," made up of "officials [representing] their Member States and [preparing] business that is to be referred to the Political and Security Committee (PSC) for decision." 
Exactly which Member States are involved in the exercise is unknown, with the EEAS refusing to name names. The designated "EU Operation Headquarters" for the exercise is in Potsdam, Germany, will the "EU Force Headquarters" is in Brindisi, Italy.
The EU institutions participating in ML12 are the EEAS, the Council, the Commission ("including if and when appropriate relevant EC agencies and the Joint Research Centre"), "competent EU Special Representatives", and "relevant EU agencies" - although which agencies these are is also unknown, aside from the EU Satellite Centre. 
Also involved will be a number of EU delegations - essentially EU embassies - of which there are dozens across the globe.  The EEAS declined to say exactly which delegations will be involved in the exercise, and their names have also been removed from documents obtained through requests to the Council - perhaps for fear of giving away which countries may have been an inspiration for the "fictitious region" where the states of 'Nusia' and 'Recuria' are located.
The involvement of non-EU states and international organisations is also shrouded in secrecy. In response to questions from Statewatch, the EEAS' spokesperson stated that "since we are testing a proposal for revised crisis management procedures, this exercise does not foresee consultations with third states and international organisations."
Yet in April, a note from the Council's Security Committee to the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER, made up of the Permanent Representatives of Member States based in Brussels) said that "some of the information to be provided to those third states and international organisations in this context [Multi Layer 2012] will be classified."
The Security Committee invited COREPER to "authorise the High Representative [Catherine Ashton, head of the EEAS] to release to the third States referred to hereafter, both prior to and during the conduct phase of the ML12 exercise, EU classified information generated for the purposes of the exercise."
The list of third states and organisations was removed from the version of the document made publicly available.
Other details were also removed from documents obtained from the Council. A note outlining the "exercise specifications" for ML12 from the Political and Security Committee to the Council and the COREPER contained a section on "consultation, observation and information" that was expunged, because this - and other large segments of the document - would reveal:
"Aspects of the planning and coordination of the exercise aiming to evaluate and test the EU crisis response and management structures as well as decision-making and planning processes. Disclosure of its details would weaken its aim and affect the effectiveness of future management of real crisis situations."
The EU currently has twelve civilian missions in countries ranging from Kosovo to the Congo, and three military missions, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia and off the coast of the Horn of Africa (EUNAVFOR Atalanta, the anti-piracy missions). Much fanfare was given in March to the authorisation given to the EU's naval force "to hit targets on Somalia's territory,"extending "the force's area of operations to include Somalia coastal territory and internal waters."
Forces involved in Atalanta are now able to "issue orders for warships, aircraft or helicopters to strike fuel depots, boats, trucks or other equipment used by pirates." 
This move was accompanied by the "first activation of the EU Operations Centre"  in support of EUTM Somalia and EUNAVFOR Atalanta. This was done in order to:
"Provide support in the field of operational planning and conduct with a view to increasing efficiency, coherence and synergies the EU Operations Centre shall help facilitate information exchange and improving coordination and strengthen civil-military synergies." 
Meanwhile, work is ongoing to "strengthen ties between the Common Security and Defence Policy and the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice" - that is, between external and internal policy - hoping for "enhanced cooperation" in:
- Comprehensive situational awareness and intelligence support to the EU;
- Exchange of information and mutual support;
- Improving mechanisms in the decision-making process;
- Improving cooperation in planning EU external action;
- Capabilities: human resources and training 
Almost entirely away from the public eye and democratic scrutiny, significant developments are taking place within the EU aimed at increasing its ability to gather and analyse information with the aim of projecting power outside Europe, in areas deemed in need of "crisis management". Alongside "recognising the primacy of the UN Security Council for the maintenance of international Peace and Security," the concept for ML12 also noted the need to recognise "the EU autonomy of decision making."
 EEAS, 'EU crisis management exercise - Multilayer 2012 - Press release', 24 September 2012
 'La Lettre de la RMF UE', December 2011, p.2
 Federico Santopinto, 'The Lisbon enigma: crisis management and coherence in the European Union', Norweigan Peacebuilding Centre, May 2010, p.5
 Council, 'Common Security and Defence Policy - Council Conclusions', 23 July 2012, p.2-3
 Lieutenant Colonel Stephan Dirr, 'MILEX 11 "Major changes"', Impetus, Autumn/Winter 2011 p.18
 Political and Security Committee, 'Exercise Specifications (EXSPEC) for EU Crisis Management Exercise Multi Layer 2012 - ML 12', 17 February 2012, p.6
 'Council Decision of 22 January 2001 setting up the Political and Security Committee (2001/78/CFSP)'
 'Political and Security Committee (PSC)'
 Swedish Presidency of the European Union, 'Meeting of the EU Politico-Military Group (PMG)'
 'Exercise Specifications', p.6
 EEAS, 'External Service - delegations' website'
 Security Committee, 'Authorisation ot release EU classified information to third States and international organisations in the context of the EU Crisis Managment Exercise Multi Layer 2012 - ML 12', 25 April 2012, p.2
 Bruno Waterfield, 'Inland Somali pirate bases to be targeted', The Telegraph, 23 March 2012
 Council of the European Union, 'EU Operations Centre to support CSDP missions in the Horn of Africa', 23 March 2012
 'Council Decision 2012/173/CFSP of 23 March 2012 on the activation of the EU Operations Centre for the Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operation in the Horn of Africa'
 Council of the European Union, 'Strengthening ties between CSDP and FSJ - Elements of a draft Road Map', 17 October 2011, p.1-2; Richard Norton-Taylor, 'Europooks flourish as Euro flounders', The Guardian, 24 January 2012
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