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The European Gendarmerie Force: a
solution in search of problems?
a
Giovanni Arcudi & Michael E. Smith
a
a
Department of Politics & International Relations , University of
Aberdeen , Edward Wright Building, Dunbar Street, Aberdeen ,
AB24 3QY , UK
Published online: 03 Jan 2013.
To cite this article: Giovanni Arcudi & Michael E. Smith (2013) The European Gendarmerie Force: a
solution in search of problems?, European Security, 22:1, 1-20, DOI: 10.1080/09662839.2012.747511
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09662839.2012.747511
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European Security, 2013
Vol. 22, No. 1, 120, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09662839.2012.747511
The European Gendarmerie Force: a solution in search of problems?
Giovanni Arcudi and Michael E. Smith*
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Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Aberdeen, Edward Wright
Building, Dunbar Street, Aberdeen AB24 3QY, UK
By creating the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF), some European Union
(EU) member states have devised a ‘structured solution’ to provide international
civilian police capabilities. In this article, we undertake a critical examination of
the EGF by first arguing that the EGF has been widely misrepresented, notably
with regard to its general purpose and specific relationship to the EU. Next, we
examine a range of security problems used to justify the EGF, arguing that its
potential role in handling certain tasks has not been very carefully considered.
Finally, we suggest that a major rationale behind the EGF was the shared desire
among its members to draw attention to a policing model that is not universally
appreciated, and to promote this model by offering its ‘third-type’ capabilities
while keeping the EGF outside of EU institutional constraints. In the conclusion,
we identify some crucial questions related to the EGFEU relations, notably in
terms of non-optimisation of EU resources and possible incoherence in EU/
Common Security and Defence Policy efforts.
Keywords: European Gendarmerie Force; gendarmerie forces; police forces with a
military status; international civilian police; crisis management; peacekeeping
The past decade has seen a remarkable, even unprecedented, expansion in the
number and scope of security-related European Union (EU) institutions and policy
tools. Many efforts have involved the development of military capabilities, as with the
EU Military Committee, the EU Military Staff, the EU Battlegroup concept, and
others. These developments are intended to augment the EU’s Common Security and
Defence Policy (CSDP1) ambitions, and indeed the EU has managed to launch more
than 20 CSDP missions since 2003 in various parts of the world. However, most of
these missions have been civilian in nature, and in response to the apparent demand
for such interventions, the EU has attempted to bolster its military capabilities with
civilian ones, notably with civilian police capabilities (Merlingen and Ostrauskaite
2005).
As all CSDP military or police missions (so far) have required the generation of
forces on a case-by-case basis, some European policy-makers have attempted to
devise more structured solutions. One such solution involves the European
Gendarmerie Force (EGF), launched in 2004 by an intergovernmental agreement
among five EU member states on a French proposal (EUISS 2005a, 2005b). The
creation of the EGF can be seen as a small part of broader developments regarding
the nature of contemporary international peacekeeping, conflict prevention/resolution,
*Corresponding author. Email: [email protected]
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G. Arcudi and M.E. Smith
and crisis management activities. These developments, in turn, are a result of three
major trends.
The first involves a rise in the global demand for such interventions since the end
of the cold war, as a consequence of multiple causes: weak or collapsed states,
humanitarian disasters, civil wars, ethnic disputes, and other problems (Chopra
1998, Shawcross 2000, Jeong 2005). The second trend involves the ‘supply side’ of
these interventions: unlike during the cold war, today the UN is no longer the
primary provider of multinational peacekeeping/intervention forces. Instead, other
actors have supplied such forces; these actors can take the form of international
organisations (IOs)2 or coalitions of like-minded states. The third trend, finally,
involves a growing perception that military answers to such questions can be limited,
so that a resort to civilian resources becomes equally, if not more, important,
especially in a long-term prospect.
The EGF is simply one response to these trends, and can be viewed alongside
similar efforts by the UN (its Civilian Police Forces) and NATO (its Multinational
Specialised Unit, or MSU). Since its creation, the EGF has in fact inspired a great
deal of commentary and speculation about its role, as we discuss below. However, in
terms of European security affairs, the literature lacks a comprehensive analysis of
how the EGF in particular relates to EU foreign/security policy efforts, and whether
this new force might enhance or undermine Europe’s global ambitions in security
affairs. In the rest of this article, we offer a critical examination of the EGF, arguing
that its development in fact reveals a high degree of confusion about its general
purpose and its specific relationship to the EU. This confusion can be seen among
both policy practitioners and academic experts, which suggests that the EGF
concept, and its relationship to the EU, has not been analysed effectively from either
a policy or legal/conceptual perspective. This article helps to fill that gap. Moreover,
the debates surrounding the development of the EGF raise a number of essential
questions involving the current role and future development of this force, and others
like it.
One major question is why the EGF has been created outside of the EU
framework, when its mission and capabilities clearly overlap with that of the CSDP.
In fact, the EGF has not only been designed to serve primarily the EU, but it also
relies on the same reservoir of gendarmerie-type forces that have already been made
available to the EU by EGF members as part of the ‘civilian crisis management
capabilities’ catalogue (EUISS 2005a, p. 237, para. 3, EGF 2012b, Q.1.e.). In this
respect, the EGF can be seen as a redundant force and possibly as a body that can
undermine the EU’s attempts to develop its own civilian crisis management
capabilities. A related question involves the specific motivations and goals of EGF
members which are not always compatible in light of their concerted efforts to
set-up a multinational gendarmerie force outside of the EU framework. The
literature on the question of why individual states choose to undertake foreign
intervention missions suggests a number of motivations (Mullenbach 2005, Fordham
2008), some of which might actually conflict with, or even undermine, the EU’s own
pursuit of similar ambitions under its CSDP.
In the rest of this article, we examine these issues in detail. We first focus on the
range of misperceptions among European policy-makers and other informed
observers regarding the purpose of the EGF, especially in terms of ‘out-of-EU’
police missions. These misperceptions, we argue, result from not only the impulsive
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manner in which the EGF was created, but also from the way the EGF has been
‘sold’ to the European public at large. In the second section, we focus on three major
facets of the so-called ‘security gap’ that are often used to justify the development
EGF-like forces. Here we demonstrate that the EGF concept has yet to prove itself as
a major ‘value added’ structure, in ways that cannot be handled by existing EU
capabilities. In the third section, finally, we suggest that a major motivation behind
the EGF has been the shared desire among the EGF member states to draw attention
to a policing model not universally appreciated inside and outside the EU, and to
promote it by offering especially in difficult situations its ‘third-type’ capabilities
under less-demanding European institutional constraints. As only a small portion of
EU member states possess gendarmerie-type forces, the creation of the EGF has in
fact revealed and institutionalised a division among EU member states along a
gendarmerie/non-gendarmerie line, which could have (indeed, is having) major
implications regarding the development of the CSDP as a whole.
Creating the EGF: the original rationale
Gendarmerie forces are police forces with a military status. They can serve under a
civilian or military authority, depending on the circumstances and task assignments.
In this sense they can be viewed as ‘third-type’ forces able to operate at the interface
between military forces and civilian-status police (Werkner 2010), and tailored to
face internal and external ‘conventional’ threats (criminals and enemy forces) as well
as ‘non-conventional’ ones, notably those blurring civilianmilitary lines (Lutterbeck
2004, pp. 4546, Tripodi 2006, p. 220). This ‘dual nature’ of gendarmerie forces may
also be framed in terms of an ability to fulfil civilian police as well as military tasks,
and in terms of ‘universal’ interoperability with other civilian or military forces. In
this light, and with particular regard to conflict and post-conflict environments
where military and gendarmerie forces may share not only a military status but also
compatible operational doctrines, this ‘universal’ interoperability can be higher
between military and gendarmerie forces than between military forces and ‘ordinary’
civilian police.
This belief was a major rationale behind the creation of the EGF by several EU
member states that possess gendarmerie-type forces: France, Italy, the Netherlands,
Portugal, and Spain. Details of the EGF mission and institutional design were agreed in
a formal statement, the Treaty of Velsen, in October 2007, while a permanent
headquarters was established in Vicenza (Italy) around the same time, with a core of
up to 800 European gendarmes ready-on-call in their home country, able to deploy
within 30 days. These forces can be augmented up to a total strength of 2300 gendarmes.
Romania joined the scheme in 2008 as a full member; Poland and Lithuania have been
granted the status of partners, while Turkey obtained the status of observer.
Since its creation, the EGF has been deployed on three occasions: from November
2007 to October 2010, the EGF has staffed the Integrated Police Unit (IPU)
Headquarters and coordinated IPU contributions within the EU mission in BosniaHerzegovina (EUFOR Althea); since 2009, the EGF has deployed personnel to train
the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) within the NATO Training
Mission in Afghanistan; and in 2010, the EGF deployed two Formed Police Units
(FPUs) one French and one Italian and a Special Weapons and Tactics platoon provided by Spain within the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) (EGF 2012a).
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G. Arcudi and M.E. Smith
For the reasons of overall capabilities and ‘universal’ interoperability noted
above, the EGF compared to civilian-status police seems to be able to offer a
higher degree of interoperability with military forces, which is crucial in conflict and
post-conflict environments (Boyer and Lindley-French 2007, p. 40, EUISS 2007).
Some observers argue further that, for these reasons, the EGF could provide the EU
with a unique capability to support other IOs and even to help strengthen
transatlantic relations, e.g. that NATO should be more responsive to what the EU
or its member states have to offer, whether in the form of battlegroups or other
initiatives, such as the EGF (Cornish 2006, p. 16). The EGF can indeed be deployed
under various auspices EU, NATO, UN, OSCE, or otherwise and under different
chains of command military or civilian depending on operational needs, whether
in peacekeeping, stabilisation and reconstruction, state-building, or training/mentoring missions (Burwell et al. 2006, p. 8, Lebl 2006, p. 122, 2007, p. 33). Such broad
flexibility in terms of institutional control, chains of command, and mission tasks
was a major rationale behind the creation of the EGF.
Misperceptions and the EGF
On the surface, then, the creation of the EGF would seem to be an unlikely source of
tension among EU member states. The EU itself allows various forms of ‘enhanced
cooperation’ among its members, whether in the area of foreign/security policy or in
other sectors, and indeed the history of European integration has seen a number of
such efforts along the way, such as the European Maritime Force, the Eurocorps, the
European Airlift Centre, and others. The EGF itself has been conceived on the
model of Eurofor. In this light, some observers have mentioned the EGF as simply
another example of ‘enhanced cooperation’ outside the EU treaties or as an
example of cooperation outside the legal framework of the EU pointing out that
European integration with respect to security/defence (among other sectors) may
proceed at different speeds (De Schoutheete 2006, p. 4, Alcaro et al. 2009, p. 66).
More specifically, as CSDP decisions require a high degree of consensus, if not
complete unanimity, among EU member states to be realised, it makes sense for
some like-minded member states to organise their own efforts in cases where
unanimity cannot be reached. As Lebl (2007, p. 33) has noted, forces like the EGF
can function precisely because there is ‘no need to obtain unanimous EU agreement
for its use’ since ‘(t)echnically, the force does not belong to the EU’ (also see Burwell
et al. 2006, p. 8, Pace and Gaskell Bontadini 2009, p. 35). In a similar vein, the widely
known difficulties faced by the EU in choosing when, where, and how to intervene,
especially in light of an increasing foreign demand for police-type missions, may
explain why the EGF ‘was launched as a multilateral initiative outside the EU
framework’ (Quille 2006, p. 132). Thus, as long as these efforts do not generate a
conflict with the obligations held by the EU member states, they should not
undermine and, indeed, may even enhance the EU’s overall capabilities.
This idea of ‘enhanced cooperation’ in security affairs among small groups of EU
member states may sound logical in principle, but the reality often turns out
differently. This is a result of two factors: first, EU member states still fundamentally
disagree on the basic purpose or rationale for engaging in CSDP operations; and
second, this disagreement, in turn, requires every such operation to be debated on a
case-by-case basis. In fact, disputes over force generation and burden sharing can
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become more controversial than the original reason for launching the operation in
the first place. Launching foreign police missions has been especially difficult for the
EU, as police officers (unlike military personnel) are not normally used to being sent
to foreign conflict or post-conflict environments. They also balk at the idea of
working under a foreign chain of command, such as the African Union. Therefore, it
can take considerable efforts to find and train police volunteers, even when all EU
member states agree on the necessity of the mission. As one former EU police officer
(for the AMIS support mission in Africa) put it, there is ‘too much diplomacy and not
enough law enforcement’ involved in arranging these missions (interviews, 200711).
Even with ‘out of EU’ efforts, such as the EGF, these factors may reproduce, on a
reduced scale, the same problems, notably with respect to the decision-making
process. The reality is that the EGF also needs unanimity to function and to be
deployed. For example, the first EGF deployment was directed towards Bosnia and
not towards Kosovo as initially considered due to a Spanish veto for internaloriented reasons (De Weger 2009, p. 20, Pace and Gaskell Bontadini 2009, p. 46,
fn 142). However, Spain did approve the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo
(EULEX) (Ronzitti 2010, p. 5), and this reminds us that the ‘unanimity argument’
(which was supposed to explain the creation of the EGF outside the EU framework)
may sometimes be reversed when the political costs of a veto could be much higher
within the EU framework.
Many other issues tackled during the EGF creation phase have actually revealed
a series of conflicting positions among EGF members, even on crucial points such as
the creation of the EGF as a standing force (opposed by France and the
Netherlands); the integration in the EGF of the Carabinieri-led Center of Excellence
for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) (unsuccessfully proposed by Italy); the
admission in the EGF of non-gendarmerie forces (unsuccessfully recommended by
the Netherlands) (De Weger 2009, p. 14); the role and level of the EGF HQ
(operational command for Italy, tactical command for France) (Libertini 2005, pp.
193194); and the EGF HQ and the staffing of its top positions (Italy and Portugal
versus France, Spain and the Netherlands) (Coppola 2005, p. 2). Similarly, some
Italian initiatives to convert the NATO/MSU concept and doctrines into EU/MSU
ones have been opposed within the EU Military Committee by France, Spain, and
the Netherlands (Lavoro di Gruppo 2005, p. 9, Libertini 2005, p. 137, Pace and
Gaskell Bontadini 2009, p. 16), i.e. by three founding members of the EGF.
One can also mention a clear FrenchItalian rivalry over crucial points related to
the conception of police missions in hostile and post-conflict environments. In
particular, the MSU concept (developed and implemented within NATO under the
Carabinieri leadership) has never been appreciated by France and its Gendarmerie
nationale. This concept and related doctrines of engagement have therefore not been
adopted as such also due to the opposition of France neither within the EGF, nor
within the EU’s crisis management ‘package’ (Coppola 2005, p. 2, Lavoro di Gruppo
2005, pp. 910, Libertini 2005, p. 185, fn 141).
The unfortunate result of these disputes is that the Italian Carabinieri prefers to
operate under military authority in hostile and post-conflict environments while the
French Gendarmerie nationale prefers to operate under a civilian one (Chevrel and
Masseret 2005, p. 67, Libertini 2005, pp. 154155, Ragaru 2007, p. 15). The French
Italian rivalry, coupled with diverging views between the two major EGF
participating forces (which reflect their different position in the institutional system
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G. Arcudi and M.E. Smith
of their own country), may therefore also explain the French proposal to create a
‘self-standing’ EGF, notably as a means for France to regain influence and leadership
within the ‘gendarmerie family’ and to close down the ‘Carabinieri-inspired’ NATO/
MSU experience which differs too much from the institutional visions of France and
its Gendarmerie nationale.
Beyond the French proposal and the contested creation of the EGF, a closer look
at the debates surrounding the EGF reveals a very high degree of confusion about the
precise relationship between the EGF and the EU. At the most general level, some
observers have considered the EGF as a form of enhanced cooperation ruled by the
EU treaties in force at the time of the EGF’s creation (Charalampus 2010, p. 23). For
example, a research paper published by the UK House of Commons mentions ‘the
formation of an EU Gendarmerie Force’ in the text while referring to a ‘European
Gendarmerie Force’ in the glossary (Taylor 2006, p. 3, 24, 39, 73, emphasis added).
Similarly, a Chaillot Paper (EUISS 2005b, p. 233) reports that all the EU member
states (25 at that time) have signed the Declaration of Intent to set-up the EGF. In
this vein, a working paper published in Germany mentions the EGF as the police
component of the EU civilian crisis management capabilities (Börzel and Risse 2009,
p. 30). In a similar line, an article published in Romania presented the EGF as an EU
creation that has taken its place astride the second and third pillar in the (then) tripillar institutional system of the EU (Marczuk 2007, p. 26). Analyses in other
European countries also describe the EGF as a creation of the EU (Esquivel Lalinde
2005, p. 1, 4, Mobekk 2005, p. 5). Some observers, finally, avoid the issue of EGF
EU relations altogether by simply stating that the EGF scheme has ‘appeared’ or
been ‘set up’ without specific reference to the agents who created it (Dumoulin and
Mathieu 2005, p. 15, 18, Haine 2009, p. 456).
Outside of Europe, for example in the US, testimony presented before the Armed
Services Committee of the House of Representatives refers to the creation of the
EGF as the result of an intention of the European Council (Bensahel 2008, p. 5). In a
similar line, a report by a leading think-tank presents the creation of the EGF as a
result of an initiative of the EU, and refers to the training of EGF forces as an
ongoing effort of the EU (Flourney et al. 2005, p. 12, 59, 64). A reference article on
this topic (Armitage and Moisan 2005) mentions EU efforts in developing greater
capacities via the EGF (p. 1c), and involves the EU in the announcement of the
nomination of the first EGF commander (p. 3c).
The situation becomes even more interesting when (apparently) deliberate
misperceptions are devised, possibly in order to score political points among EU
member states and even among EU institutions, although these concerns have
nothing to do with the EGF.
For example, in 2008, Ashley Mote, a member of the European Parliament
(MEP), sent two written questions to the European Commission to ask if EGF
personnel including non-EU nationals may be authorised to operate in the UK
and will ‘have the power to stop, arrest and charge British nationals in their own
country’ (EP 2008a, 2008c). On 20 December 2010, David Campbell Bannerman,
another MEP, sent one written question to the Commission and three to the Council
regarding the EGF (EP 2010a, 2010c, 2010d, 2010e). He required clarifications about
the procedures, institutional responsibilities, and immunities from prosecution in
connection with a deployment of EGF personnel in an EU member state. On 18
February 2011, MEP Nick Griffin sent a written question to the Commission to ask
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whether the EGF may be deployed to ‘quell civil disorder or insurrection within the
boundaries of the EU’ and whether EGF personnel ‘enjoy immunity from
prosecution when deployed’ (EP 2011a).
Although the EU institutions to which these questions were addressed were not
responsible for the EGF (EP 2010b, 2010f), they attempted to set the record straight,
at least for these MEPs. In its various responses, the Commission noted that (1) the
EGF is ‘an initiative of five countries (France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and
Spain) in the field of crisis management operations’ (EP 2008b); (2) the EGF ‘is not a
formal EU body but an intergovernmental project’ (EP 2008b); (3) the EGF ‘is not
an EU body’ and ‘has no powers to intervene on the soil of Member States’, and, in
any case, ‘(t)he deployment of foreign police officers on the territory of a State falls
under the competency of national authorities’ (EP 2008d); and (4) EGF personnel
‘do not enjoy immunity from prosecution when deployed’ (EP 2011b). For its part,
the Council of the EU confirmed that (1) the EGF ‘is an initiative of five EU
Member States France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain aimed at
improving the crisis management capability in sensitive areas’ (EP 2010f); and (2) the
EGF is an ‘intergovernmental form of cooperation (that) takes place outside the
framework of the Union’ (EP 2010f).
To be fair, however, there are some very confusing elements regarding the precise
nature of the EGFEU relationship. The EGF logo, for example, originally
contained a ring of 12 stars in the background, and it has been used as such by
EGF members even on official occasions (e.g. EGF 2005, Ministerio de Defensa de
España 2011). Although this ring of stars is not the exclusive symbol or property of
the EU institutions, its use by the EGF members was meant to emphasise ‘close ties’
between the EGF and the EU (at least until this use began to raise uncomfortable
questions within EU institutions, e.g. EP 2008a). In a similar confusing vein, some
speeches pronounced by top officials of EGF member states cultivate this same ‘EUrelated’ ambiguity. For example, at the occasion of the EGF HQ opening ceremony,
the Portuguese Minister of Interior associated the event with ‘a significant step in the
development of a European Security and Defence Policy’, while the French Minister
of Defence chose the suggestive formula of ‘a major step in the European defence
building process’ (EGF 2006).
Even some top officials from non-EGF member states have cultivated the same
ambiguity with respect to the EGFEU relations. For example, at the occasion of the
EGF HQ opening ceremony, the Austrian Minister of Defence (representing the
Austrian EU Presidency) stated that the EGF was ‘making an important contribution to the European Security and Defence Policy’ and suggested an association
between the creation of the EGF and the important progress made in matter of civilmilitary cooperation during the Austrian EU Presidency (Presidency of the EU
2006). In short, and beyond these examples, an ‘EU-related’ discourse in connection
with the EGF may pave the way to confusion and misperceptions even beyond the
general public (e.g. BBC News 2004, Deutsche Welle 2006).
In any case, the fact remains that the Commission and the Council of the EU have
clearly and officially indicated, on multiple occasions, that the EGF is not part of the
EU’s institutional framework. Even so, the EGF is still far too easily considered or
presented whether accidentally or deliberately as an EU body. This general
confusion, in turn, is compounded by more focused debates surrounding the EGF’s
actual tasks in the crisis management sphere, as we shall see in the next section.
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Why an EGF? The ‘filling the security gap’ argument
As noted above, the EGF was created via an intergovernmental agreement by five
EU member states that possess gendarmerie-type forces. These are forces that hold a
military status but perform essentially civilian police tasks. This ‘dual nature’
suggests that gendarmerie-type forces could be well suited to fill the ‘security gap’
that might exist in peace support operations, or the gap between ‘purely’ military
duties (i.e. combat-related) and ‘purely’ civilian ones, such as law enforcement among
the general public. In particular, this role for gendarmerie forces can be viewed as
helpful in situations, such as post-conflict settings, where local police forces are
inadequate (or part of the problem; see Andreas 2008) while international civilian
police are not (or not yet) available on the field.
For example, the International Crisis Group (2005, p. 23) mentions the EGF as a
force of a ‘hybrid nature’ which may have the advantage of ‘bridging the gap between
military forces and civilian police’. Other analyses support this conventional wisdom
by observing that ‘(i)n theory the EGF will be able to perform military and police
tasks across the spectrum’, in particular ‘maintaining public order and safety in
situations where local police forces are inadequate’ (Isakova 2005, p. 35c). In this
view, EGF forces can be used in conflict/post-conflict situations in public order and
safety functions as well as in advising and training local police forces.
The perceived ‘life cycle’ from conflict to post-conflict phases adds to the
attractiveness of EGF-like forces, as they are seen as a more medium or even longterm solution compared to the (supposed) short-term nature of military combat
operations. As Alber et al. (2006, p. 183) put it, the EGF could be seen as a force
‘that can be deployed in unstable theatres to help fill the gap between military
operations and state-building or reconstruction programmes’ (also see Burwell et al.
2006, p. 8, Lebl 2006, p. 122, 2007, p. 33). In a similar vein relating to the gradual
transition between various tasks and settings, others have argued that the EGF could
be used to conduct peacekeeping operations that do not require the advanced skills
of soldiers but that might still be too dangerous for civilian or non-state actors
(Haine 2004, p. 21, Rieker 2005, p. 17). In this sense the EGF can actually be seen as
just one of several types of internationally deployable police elements, similar to
the UN FPUs, the NATO MSUs, and the EU IPUs, that can be used in conflict/
post-conflict situations (CoESPU 2005, pp. 35, Kelly 2006, pp. 45, Kelly et al.
2009, p. 8, 17).
The specific ‘gendarmerie’ characteristics, as in the case of the EGF, can however
be viewed as a more ‘flexible instrument that can be deployed under both military
and civilian command, thus providing the missing link between the two’ (Biscop and
Weiss 2010, p. 167; also see Shepherd 2009, p. 521). Furthermore, the EGF and its
participating forces can be viewed as able to contribute ‘collectively’ or ‘individually’
to all the other forms of Stability Police Units (under UN, EU, NATO, OSCE, or ad
hoc coalition auspices), thus enabling the same international police elements to stay
even though the international authority civilian or military may change. This
possibility may ensure continuity in policing-related activities from crisis management to post-conflict rebuilding programmes.
Given the apparent general acceptance of the idea that the EGF may be well
suited to fill the public ‘security gap’ in conflict/post-conflict situations, how might
forces such as the EGF help bridge that gap in practice? The literature and related
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policy debates on this question reveal three possible answers: as a rapid reaction
force, as a counter-terror/counter-crime force, and as a tool of EU ‘soft power’.
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The EGF as a police rapid reaction force
One aspect of the ‘security gap’ during peacekeeping/conflict resolution missions may
involve the need to rapidly deploy an intervention force to fulfil public securityrelated tasks. The EU has faced this problem in a variety of contexts, most
prominently with the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan).
Whereas the EU’s first police mission (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2003) was essentially a
follow-on force of the UN’s own International Police Task Force in that region, and
the EU’s police mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (also 2003)
was a follow-on of a larger EU military operation (EUFOR Concordia) that made
use of NATO assets, EUPOL Afghanistan was the first ‘independent’ test of the EU’s
ability to deploy a police force outside the European theatre.3 As one external
analysis put it, ‘the experience of the EU Police Mission. . .to Afghanistan
demonstrates the difficulty of trying to bring 160 civilian police officers into an
environment that is dominated by military forces’ (Boyer and Lindley-French
2007, p. 40). Insiders involved in the operation, as well as outside observers, have
mentioned a number of difficulties in terms of mounting and maintaining the police
mission from Brussels. The 200507 EU Amis support mission in Africa (Darfur,
Sudan) was another early deployment of EU police officers; it suffered from similar
problems, even though it was not a designated ‘police mission’ and involved other
non-policing tasks. Problems regarding medical care and evacuation procedures for
mission personnel were especially problematic. In fact, some EU member states
wanted to withdraw their personnel from the mission owing to their concerns about
the duty of care provided in Africa (interviews, 200711).
Beyond command and logistical problems, EUPOL Afghanistan and EU Amis
were also chronically understaffed (Perito 2009, p. 10). EU Amis was supposed to
involve 50 police officers but ended up with only 35 because EU member states failed
to honour their commitments (interviews, 200711). EUPOL Afghanistan suffered
as a consequence of the absence of a security agreement with the NATO-led
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) due to a Turkish veto connected to
the ‘Cyprus issue’ that would have allowed the EUPOL mission and its personnel
to benefit from the ISAF logistics and force protection (Assemblée nationale 2009,
p. 11). EUPOL Afghanistan also endured diverging views among the contributing
countries and even between key EU officials, notably the first EUPOL Head of
Mission and the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan (Perito 2009, p. 10), as
well as bureaucratic and other problems that complicated mission support.4 As a
result, some EU member states have preferred to deploy their own police elements
independently of the EU. This problem of mission support is part of the rationale
behind the EGF, which has been deployed in a police training/mentoring mission
under NATO auspices (thus solving the questions of logistics, force protection, and
interactions with the military forces deployed).
In light of such complications, the idea that an on-call force such as the EGF
could be quickly deployed and effectively monitored/supported from a permanent
headquarters in Europe has become very attractive, especially considering its
10 G. Arcudi and M.E. Smith
capacity to operate along with military forces in conflict/post-conflict environments.
For example, some observers have noted that the EGF could be used as
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an additional tool to manage crises . . . whose mission will be to contribute to the
development of the ESDP by providing the European Union with a wide capability to
perform all police duties in the context of the Petersberg tasks and by participating in
the initiatives of the international organisations (UN, NATO, OSCE) (Antropius and
Deschaux-Beaume 2007, p. 192).5
Similar views suggest the use of the EGF to provide a police element to the civilian crisis
management capabilities defined and adopted by the EU at the European Councils of
Feira, Nice, and Göteborg (Börzel and Risse 2009, p. 30), or to be used as ‘a basis for
the creation of the EU police rapid reaction force’ (Lutterbeck 2004, p. 61).
In fact, during the early debates surrounding the establishment of European
Stability Police Units (EGF or otherwise) some observers assumed that the police
component of the EU’s emerging civilian crisis management capabilities would ‘be
composed first and foremost of police forces with military status’ (Lutterbeck 2004,
p. 61). This did not turn out to be the case in the end, unless one considers only the
rapid reaction capabilities (where the gendarmerie-type forces are indeed largely
predominant and provide the EU/CSDP civilian catalogue of forces with 13 rapidly
deployable IPUs) (Jakobsen 2006, pp. 308309, Libertini 2005, pp. 137138). For this
reason, the idea of using gendarmerie-type forces in general, or the EGF in
particular, to provide the EU with a rapid reaction police capability still lives on in
the literature (e.g. Korski et al. 2005, p. 5). Some observers have also called for
turning the EGF into an ‘EU asset’ (Górka-Winter 2007, pp. 67), while others have
suggested the option of a full integration of the EGF into the EU institutional
framework, along with other civilian police units from EU member states (The
Future Group 2008, p. 6, para. 20, p. 28, para. 79). This would be done as part of the
EU efforts ‘to cope with the overlapping police and military challenges in crisis
regions’ and ‘to provide IPUs’ or ‘common robust police forces able to exercise
armed law enforcement’ in third-country missions (The Future Group 2008, p. 6,
para. 20, p. 28, para. 79).
This idea may sound plausible in theory, yet the EU’s experience with police
missions in the Balkans, Africa, and Afghanistan suggests otherwise. First, there are
lingering disputes among EU member states about the appropriate ‘rule of law’
covenant that should govern its police/rule of law missions on the ground (i.e. a
common law approach vs. a legal code approach). The question of gendarmerie
deployments exacerbates these disputes precisely because of their ‘dual nature’ as
civilian and military forces. Second, EU military deployments are still the most
contentious types of CSDP missions, so ‘purely’ civilian police missions are the
favoured ‘normal’ response of the EU in many crisis situations, which calls into
question the practical need for any police forces with a military status. Third, the use
of military-type forces (such as gendarmes) complicates other civilian security tasks,
such as dealing with organised crime, war criminals, and the question of extradition;
crowd control is another major ‘gray area’ in terms of determining the appropriate
legal framework if military-type forces are under consideration (interviews,
200711). Thus, the reality of the EU’s policing experience suggests that the use of
gendarmerie forces may create far more problems than it solves.
European Security
11
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The EGF as a tool to fight terrorism and organised crime
Transnational terrorism is cited as the first of several ‘key threats’ in the first
European Security Strategy (ESS) document (Council of the EU 2003, p. 3), which
has informed debates about EU foreign/security policy since 2003 (also see Council
of the EU 2005). The ESS also expanded the EU’s definition of possible missions
beyond the initial Petersberg tasks to include inter alia counter-terror operations. In
a 2008 review of the ESS, terrorism was listed as the second ‘key threat’ and linked in
the same category with organised crime (particularly trafficking and fraud) (Council
of the EU 2008, p. 4).
At the same time, scholarly work over the past decade on the linkages between
terrorism, crime, and weak states, whether in conflict situations or not, has
demonstrated complex relationships between various types of non-state actors
and, in some cases, in collusion with state actors, as when economic sanctions are
imposed (Andreas 2005, Cockayne and Lubel 2009). Such relationships, some argue,
require a new type of police or investigative force that can penetrate these networks
and disrupt their activities before they become major threats, especially in the
developing world (i.e. the ‘security-development nexus’) (Cornell 2007, Rubin and
Guáqueta 2007). Not surprisingly, the case of Afghanistan looms large in these
discussions, owing to the inherent difficulty intervention forces have faced in
determining whether to focus solely on disrupting terrorist/insurgent forces or to
target the much broader networks in which they might operate (Felbab-Brown 2006).
This state of affairs has led several observers to mention the possible use of the
EGF as a counter-terror/counter-crime tool. In some cases this view is mostly
speculative (Pisano and Polidori 2007, p. 58, 65, De Vries 2008, p. 362, Celaya 2009,
p. 28). In other writings observers have explicitly suggested the crime/terror fighting
potential of the EGF (Patry 2007, p. 15), or that the EGF ‘could also be used in a
post-terrorist attack situation anywhere in the world’ (Isakova 2005, p. 35c).
Supporters of this idea, however, offer no concrete details about what types of
counter-terror/counter-crime missions the EGF could effectively be assigned to, and
there are actually very few examples of an EU/European multinational police force
(EGF or otherwise) that has dealt successfully with these types of missions. The
primary European experience in conducting out-of-EU multinational counter-crime
missions, for example, has been in the Balkans, and the results here have been mixed
at best.6 And, of course, the EU has never mounted a counter-terror foreign
intervention of any type, although the counter-terror mission has often been ‘tacked
on’ to the general concept of operations during some CSDP missions.7
The EGF as a tool of European ‘soft power’
While some ‘realist’ observers see the EGF as a tool aimed at fighting terrorism and
crime, whether in conflict situations or otherwise, some ‘idealist’ observers have
associated the EGF with the concept of ‘human security’ or with broader notions of
human rights, the protection of civilians (i.e. the ‘responsibility to protect’), and ‘soft
power’ or ‘normative power’ (Marczuk 2007). For example, the Toledo International
Centre for Peace has remarked that ‘at the very peak of the conflict, the international
civilian police witness the new European Gendarmerie Force should play a
complementary role to the strictly military action, as a guarantee of the still
12 G. Arcudi and M.E. Smith
uncertain concept of human security’ (CITpax 2006, p. 8). The Toledo Centre also
refers to the creation of the EGF as
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a clear sign of the commitment of some (EU) Member States to increasing European
capabilities of a civilian character albeit in this case police corps of a military nature to ensure the effective protection of populations affected by armed conflicts and
violations of human rights in third countries (CITpax 2006, pp. 1617, para. 6).
Some observers have gone a step further and linked the EGF with the EU/CSDP
initiatives in order to use civilianmilitary resources to uphold a ‘collective
responsibility to intervene and protect’ (Flechtner 2006, p. 157, 164, 171). However,
it is worth bearing in mind that the EU prefers to focus on civilian means and civil
society building, rather than use military or gendarmerie forces, when engaging in
medium to long-term state-building efforts and security sector reform. In a more
critical vein, some have argued that the EU’s practice of ‘human security’, especially
in EU neighbour states, actually amounts to a kind of ‘reversed’ approach, as the
EU’s ‘insistence on border controls, migration control, organised crime and
trafficking illustrates a hierarchy whereby reform primarily addresses the security
of the EU, then the security of the state in question, and tangentially the security of
the individuals of that state’ (Ryan 2009, p. 328).
This latter point, based on an analysis of the EU’s ‘human security’ efforts in
Albania and Montenegro, alerts us to the uncomfortable truth that ‘security’,
whether ‘human’ or otherwise, is always a subjective as well as a relative concept, and
that the EU’s approach to ‘human security’ through the use of police forces or
otherwise may not always receive the welcome it expects. Promoters of the ‘human
security’ concept in general, and of the more extensive use of the EGF in such a
fashion, should keep this point in mind as they devise ever more reasons and
methods, no matter how well intentioned, for industrialised countries to intervene in
the affairs of developing countries.
Promoting the gendarmerie model through the EGF?
These debates over the role and responsibilities of the EGF are complicated by an
additional factor, which has been alluded to by a number of observers rather than
stated in explicit terms. This factor involves the creation or maintenance of a rift
among EU member states in terms of whether or not they possess gendarmerie
forces. In other words, the creation of the EGF has, at a minimum, institutionalised a
division between EGF and non-EGF EU member states. At a maximum, the EGF
can be seen as a means for EGF participating states to emphasise and promote the
‘gendarmerie model’ within the EU and beyond, notably through peace support
operations. As a result, and as the EU itself has been attempting to develop the
means to promote its own values (especially ‘soft power’ values of democracy and
human rights) as part of its overall ‘grand strategy’ in foreign/security policy (Smith
2011), the advocacy of military-compatible, gendarmerie-type forces by only some of
its own member states could challenge the coherence of the EU’s global ambitions.
This may be complicated by the fact that the EGF has been structured to serve not
only under EU auspices, but also under the auspices of the UN, NATO, OSCE, or ad
hoc coalitions (EUISS 2005a, p. 237, para. 3, EGF 2007a, art. 5). And indeed, out of
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European Security
13
three missions already carried out by the EGF, only one has been implemented under
EU auspices (the other two, respectively, under the UN and NATO auspices).
Without presenting the arguments in these terms but with a clear reference to the
external cooperation and international presence of the French Gendarmerie
nationale, Chevrel and Masseret (2005, p. 61) for example refer to a kind of special
relationship cultivated among police forces with a military status within the EU and
beyond, in order ‘to encourage a ‘‘cultural’’ proximity’ when developing concrete
technical and operational cooperation. In a similar view but with more regard to the
EU crisis management capabilities, Lutterbeck (2004, p. 61) has argued that the main
EU states possessing gendarmerie forces France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain have
formed a sort of coalition of interests particularly within the ‘gendarmerie
countries’ association FIEP8 in order to promote their gendarmerie-type formula
as a key component of the EU’s civilian crisis management capabilities (also see
Hovens 2011, p. 9).
These efforts might be intended, in whole or in part, to help counteract the lack
of appreciation for gendarmerie-type forces in much of the Anglo-Saxon world,
including the Anglo-Saxon literature on police and security, which promotes a clearcut divide between military and police forces in terms of status and task assignments
(Gobinet 2008, pp. 452454). The UK in particular is very supportive of its ‘Peel
model’, by which police must serve the whole public and not only the rulers as
legitimate agents of civil authorities, and must be drawn from and accountable
towards the ‘policed’ population in a mutual trust relationship (Wiatrowski and
Goldstone 2010, pp. 8081). There is little room in this view for creating police forces
with a military status and full encompassing police powers and duties, recruited on a
national basis and responding to centralised authorities. Some of the questions about
the EGF asked by British MEPs (see above) certainly reflect this clash of policing
models, if not a barely veiled hostility towards the gendarmerie model per se. And
although Germany and the UK may have welcomed the EGF (Taylor 2006, p. 40),
the fact remains that they cannot participate in the scheme as full members or
observers as with all other EU member states that lack gendarmerie-type forces
(EGF 2007a, art. 4244, 2007b, pp. 24). This state of affairs can therefore only
solidify a divide among the EU member states along a gendarmerie/non-gendarmerie
line.
While this divide may appear to be largely based on perceptions, the international
competition in promoting political/institutional models in general and policing
models in particular is a reality (Bagayoko 2009, p. 11). This competition can
compromise the consistency of post-conflict state-building programmes. As a result,
the EU’s future involvement in such efforts may exacerbate a rift between EGF and
non-EGF EU member states, and between EU and non-EU member states as well.
In Kosovo, for example, the goal of reorganising the police was complicated by
competing US and French views derived from their own police models. More
precisely, ‘(t)he USA wished to set up a decentralised police system, while France
suggested setting up a dual police system (with both police and gendarmerie forces)’
(Bagayoko 2009, p. 11). In Afghanistan, efforts to reorganise, train, and mentor local
police forces have been frustrated by the proliferation of, and confusion between,
various programmes, which ‘also reflected differing national policing philosophies
and practices’ (Perito 2009, p. 11). In this case, the field experiences have revealed
conflicting views not only among major IOs such as the EU and NATO, but also
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14 G. Arcudi and M.E. Smith
among national and sometimes even sub-national actors involved in these
programmes, from the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, and the UK.
In such a context, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has recommended
the deployment of the EGF to Afghanistan to provide police training (Perito 2009,
p. 11). This proposal, in fact, was intended to help develop, under the EGF label, the
ANCOP, or ‘to create an Afghan Gendarmerie Force able to conduct operations in
cooperation with the A(fghan) N(ational) A(rmy)’ (Afghanistan 2010, p. 20, 22).
However, this initiative could also be seen as an effort intended to consolidate a dual
model composed of gendarmerie and police forces. This kind of ‘model promotion’
has actually occurred within the EU itself, as the Romanian police system has been
‘Europeanised’ through the consolidation of a pre-existent dual model. In this case,
‘twinning’ programmes, financed largely by the EU but implemented essentially by
French and Spanish police and gendarmerie forces (Huba 2010, pp. 2122), have
probably encouraged Romania’s police and gendarmerie forces to adopt structures,
modus operandi, and doctrines of engagement at home and abroad similar to those of
their ‘dual’ mentors.
Conclusion
Based on these considerations, in our view the EGF increasingly seems like a
solution to a problem the clash of policing models and also a solution in search
of problems. Three specific issues the precise nature of, and potential conflicts
between, the EGF and the EU; the supposed global need for EGF-like forces; and
the motivations behind the creation of the EGF itself call into question the wisdom
of investing collective European efforts into police capabilities with a military status,
whether the EGF or otherwise. Moreover, as the EU has virtually ceased undertaking
new CSDP missions since 2010 as a result of the general difficulties surrounding the
implementation of Lisbon Treaty and the specific problems discussed in this article, it
is now more relevant than ever to question how the EU’s various new foreign/
security policy institutions actually work together or not.
In this article, we have shown that the EGF concept in particular (1) generates
confusion in terms of its relationship with the EU; (2) may create incoherence among
EU crisis management initiatives as well as redundant structures and capabilities;
(3) may challenge the EU’s own civilian-focused foreign policy ambitions; and
(4) institutionalises a divide among the EU member states along a gendarmerie/
non-gendarmerie line. In other words, as the EU has become increasingly concerned
with developing a more coherent approach to its global ‘actorness’ in recent years,
the creation of new cooperative frameworks like the EGF by a handful of EU
member states may undermine the EU’s coherence precisely when it is attempting to
develop similar means. In fact, when the EGF was under development, the EU was
already seeking to address the chronic lack of international civilian police capabilities
with its broader civilian crisis management concept (interviews, 200711). It is also
not clear whether a gendarmerie force (EGF or otherwise) is the best model for
solving this problem, due to the exclusion of ‘purely’ civilian-status police forces in
its scheme. Furthermore, the EU’s Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability could
easily handle the organisation and coordination of all EU international civilian
police capabilities, if a larger critical mass of EU member states favoured the EU
option.9
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European Security
15
Thus, even if this option is not pursued in every crisis management initiative, the
EGF could actually conflict with the principles and values commonly accepted
within EU. A potential conflict may arise, for example, in attempting close
cooperation between the EGF and non-EU gendarmerie-type forces, as suggested
by some analysts (De Weger 2009, pp. 4851, Pace and Gaskell Bontadini 2009, pp.
6569), if a primary consideration for involvement is belonging to the ‘gendarmerie
family’ rather than full respect for human rights and the rule of law. Another
potential conflict between the EGF and the EU might involve cooperation between
the EGF and forces belonging to EU candidate countries going faster and further
than the relationships between the EU and the states in question.10 Finally, we can
see evidence of conflict between the EGF and the EU in cases like Afghanistan,
where the EU has its own police training/mentoring mission, while the EGF has been
deployed under NATO auspices in similar functions. In such a case, the deployment
of EGF forces outside the EU framework may not optimise EU resources as such
(Alcaro et al. 2009, p. 66), and it raises the question of what can be achieved by the
EGF that cannot be achieved by the EU with the same (potential) means (Jakobsen
2006, pp. 308309).
There is also such a thing as institutional proliferation in politics, in the sense that
too many structures may compete for the same resources and task assignments. Here
the EGF seems to be another example of an EU-related foreign policy institution
that has been created, by a handful of EU member states, according to a non-EU
‘plan B’. This ‘plan B’ seems to have taken into account three factors of particular
concern to EGF members: (1) that gendarmerie-type forces are not unanimously
appreciated within the EU, and that they may be confined to ‘conventional’ if not
marginal roles in EU civilian crisis management initiatives; (2) that the mandates,
assignments, and rules of engagement negotiated at the EU level for each mission
may reflect the police vision more than the gendarmerie one, thus preventing closer
cooperation with military forces; and (3) that the European ‘gendarmerie countries’
may wish to undertake international initiatives and develop an international
‘gendarmerie network’ that goes beyond the EU’s legal framework, policies, and
institutions.
Yet these ‘corporative’ concerns should not distract us from asking whether there
is a strategic/technical need for the EGF. The EGF (2012b, Q.1.b.) itself insists on its
added value, even with regard to the EU/CSDP police capabilities. However, as
Jakobsen (2006, pp. 308309) and the EGF (2012b, Q.1.e.) itself put it, ‘a
substantial portion of (EGF) personnel are already part of the EU rapid reaction
capacity’, so it is not really clear what kind of added value the EGF provides when
the same gendarmerie forces could simply be deployed under the CSDP rubric. One
significant element in this puzzle could well be that the vast majority of EU member
states believe that gendarmerie forces represent an archaic, if not an undemocratic,
model in law enforcement, and they may prevent ‘pure’ gendarmerie deployments
under EU auspices (especially in executive law enforcement tasks), while the small
minority of EU member states that possess gendarmerie forces exploit international
initiatives where possible to try and prove the contrary. As long as this division
persists, as reflected by the very existence of the EGF, the EU as a whole will not
optimise its resources and will find it difficult to improve the coherence of its CSDP
efforts, especially in the area of civilian crisis management and police missions.
16 G. Arcudi and M.E. Smith
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank the many senior EU officials who granted personal interviews with the
authors, on a confidential basis, on more than 50 occasions between 2007 and 2011. These
officials were based in the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, the European
Commission, the European External Action Service, the EU Military Staff, the European
Parliament, and the permanent representations of various EU member states. Michael E.
Smith also gratefully acknowledges the financial support of this research provided by the
European Research Council (grant no. 203613).
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Notes
1. Formerly, the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). For the sake of consistency,
we favor the term ‘CSDP’ throughout this article (except for quotations).
2. Including, for example, the EU, NATO, the African Union, the Economic Community of
West African States, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Economic and
Monetary Union of West African States (Bellamy and Williams 2005).
3. Note that the EU launched two other police missions (in addition to Bosnia and
Macedonia) before Afghanistan: EUPOL Kinshasa (in 2005) and EUPOL COPPS in the
Palestinian territories (in 2006).
4. According to EU officials in the Civilian Planning Conduct Capability office, in the EU
Military Staff, and the Crisis Management Planning Directorate (interviews, 200711).
5. ‘Petersberg tasks’ involve peacekeeping, peacemaking, humanitarian, and rescue tasks.
6. Interviews with EU officials formerly involved in the EU Police Mission in Bosnia
Herzegovina (Brussels, 200810).
7. Also note that the EU’s 2008 review of its ESS found that the EU’s progress against
terrorism and organized crime has been ‘slow and incomplete’ (Council of the EU 2008,
p. 4), but the document did not suggest any police forces or missions to handle these
threats. Similarly, the EU’s counter-terrorism strategy (Council of the EU 2005) only
mentions general police cooperation and information-sharing, not the use of multinational police interventions, to handle this threat.
8. From the French acronym for France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the founding members
of the Association of European and Mediterranean Gendarmeries and Police Forces with
Military Status, created in 1994. More recent FIEP members include Turkey, Morocco,
the Netherlands, Romania, and Jordan. Argentina and Chile are associate members.
9. Besides the EU and the EGF, other international organizations may offer similar
capabilities based on national contributions, as with the UN/FPUs and NATO/MSUs.
10. For an opposite point of view, see for example Maggiore (2008), pp. 4b5a).
Notes on contributors
Giovanni Arcudi is a postdoctoral research fellow and Michael E. Smith is a professor of
international relations, both in the Department of Politics & International Relations,
University of Aberdeen.
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