The context is the wider functioning of the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and External Action Service (EAS), formally constituted by the Lisbon Treaty but a continuation of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) that emerged from usual intergovernmental process begun at St Malo in 1998. The paper further examines the extent to which ESDP/CSDP has made a meaningful contribution in terms of the 27 missions to date, and whether the question of legitimacy or lack of legitimacy serves to strengthen or weaken the Union's ability to make a meaningful contribution to Europe's security and defence. EUFOR Althea is the EU's largest and longest running military mission. Evidence from interviews with EUFOR officials suggests a lack of strategic coherence that may itself reflect underlying structural weaknesses in how ESDP/CSDP has been framed, and arguably an underlying lack of confidence directly associated with a lack of legitimacy at the European level. Althea acts under a UN mandate but as such is handicapped by the democratic deficit that is prevalent in other areas of EU policy making and practice. There is an irony in this because the EAS and the EUFOR Althea mission have the potential to do considerable good, but a lack of strategic direction and a low level of member state commitment undermines the prospects for real impact. It is striking that the problem of a capability-expectations gap identified by Christopher Hill (1993) has still not been resolved, despite the extent of institutional innovation. The paper explores evidence gained from semi-structured interviews with Althea practitioners and officials during a week in Sarajevo in May 2011, as well as interviews with other officials and policy experts within or close to the ESDP/CSDP process. All interviews were conducted in 2010 or 2011 as part of on-going doctoral research.
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