Helsinki Headline Goal

Part of a series on the
History of the
European Union
Flag of Europe.svg
European Communities (1958–2009)
European Coal and Steel Community (1952–2002)
European Economic Community (1958–1993)
European Atomic Energy Community (1958–present)
European Community (1993–2009)
Justice and Home Affairs (1993–2003)
Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (2003–2009)
Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar (1993–2009)
Western European Union (1954–2011)
Western Union (1948–1954)
Treaty of Paris 1951
Treaty of Rome 1957
Merger Treaty 1965
Single European Act 1986
Maastricht Treaty 1992
Treaty of Amsterdam 1997
Treaty of Nice 2001
Treaty of Lisbon 2007
Hallstein Commission 1958
Rey Commission 1967
Malfatti Commission 1970
Mansholt Commission 1972
Ortoli Commission 1973
Jenkins Commission 1977
Thorn Commission 1981
Delors Commission 1985
Santer Commission 1994
Prodi Commission 1999
Barroso Commission 2004
Juncker Commission 2014
Von der Leyen Commission 2019
flag European Union portal
  • v
  • t
  • e

The Helsinki Headline Goal was a military capability target set for 2003 during the December 1999 Helsinki European Council meeting with the aim of developing a future European Rapid Reaction Force.[1] There was much interest in the idea of a single EU military force, and inexact characterisations of the initiative (which was not much more than some headquarters arrangements and a list of theoretically available national forces) led to imprecise journalistic depictions about a unified European army.[2]

The Headline Goal was built upon an earlier bilateral Franco-British Joint Declaration adopted at St. Malo in December 1998.[3] The St. Malo Declaration said that the European Union ought to have the capability for “autonomous action backed up by credible military forces” as part of a common defence policy. The St. Malo Declaration laid the political foundation between France and the United Kingdom, which in turn facilitated the launch of the European Security and Defence Policy and the formulation of the Headline Goal.

In 2004, a new target was set: the "Headline Goal 2010". To update the initial declaration in December 1999, the formal agreement on the Headline Goal was reached on 22 November 2004 and according to statements made by EU officials the first units will be deployable in 2007. Since 1 January 2007, 60,000 soldiers have been available for a possible European Rapid Reaction Force who are potentially able to be deployed for at least a year.

Headline Goal 2003

Under this plan, the European Union pledged itself during the Helsinki summit to be able to deploy rapidly and then sustain forces capable of the full range of Petersberg tasks (as set out in the Amsterdam Treaty), including the most demanding, in operations up to corps level (up to 15 brigades or 50,000-60,000 persons)[1][3] to be capable of intervening in any crisis that could occur in an area where European interests are affected.[4] The aim was to make those forces self-reliant, able to deploy within 60 days and over 4,000 km (2,485 mi), and sustainable in the field for a year. This means the force would actually have to number around 180,000 troops so as to provide rotating replacements for the initial forces. The Petersberg tasks include humanitarian and rescue tasks; peacekeeping tasks; and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.[5] EU-led forces assembled in response to a crisis would last only for the duration of the crisis and it would be up to the member states themselves to decide whether, when and how to contribute troops.[1]

The Petersberg tasks, which outline the duties of the ERRF, have been expanded from humanitarian, rescue, and peacekeeping and peacemaking to include 'joint disarmament operation', 'military advice and assistance tasks' and 'post-conflict stabilisation'. It also states that, "all these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories."[6]

Headline Force Catalogue

From the Petersberg task scenarios envisaged, the EU Military Staff generated the "Helsinki Headline Catalogue" which specifies which capabilities are required in each of 144 capability areas. In November 2000, the European Union held a Capabilities Commitment Conference in Brussels, which elicited commitments for over 100,000 (existing) troops that were declared available for what became known as the Helsinki Force Catalogue.[3] A year later, a Capabilities Improvement Conference was held during which further military forces and 5,000 police were added to the catalogue.

European Capability Action Plan

During the December 2001 Laeken summit, the EU launched the European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP) to remedy European capability shortfalls.[7] It involved initially some 20 panels composed of military experts from the member states which put forward plans and proposals to fill the identified shortfalls (e.g., by acquiring new equipment or optimising existing capabilities, in particular through cooperation at European level).

Headline Goal 2010

As the Helsinki Headline Goal became fulfilled, the European Council of June 2004 approved to further develop the EU's military crisis management capability and a new target was set: the "Headline Goal 2010".[8] EU members made the commitment that by the year 2010, at the latest, they would be capable of responding "with swift and decisive action applying a fully coherent approach" to the whole spectrum of crisis management operations covered by the Treaty of the EU and the 2003 EU Security Strategy (i.e. humanitarian and rescue tasks, disarmament operations, support to third countries in combating terrorism, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, and peacemaking). The EU also aims to address the shortfalls from the previous headline goal (e.g. gaps related to strategic airlift and sealift) which are still considered to be a limiting factor to the operability of the designated forces, especially in more demanding crisis management operations.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Gustav LINDSTROM, The Headline Goal, April 2006
  2. ^ Derek Brown, The Guardian, 11 April 2001, "The European Rapid Reaction Force" and Philip Butterworth-Hayes, Aerospace America February 2001, "The Rapid Reaction Force: What does it bode?" Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c Colin Robinson, The European Union's "Headline Goal" - Current Status Archived 2012-03-09 at the Wayback Machine, Centre for Defence Information, May 23, 2002
  4. ^ WEU, European strategic lift capabilities - reply to the annual report of the Council, 5 December 2001, "European strategic lift capabilities - reply to the annual report of the Council". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  5. ^ EUROPEAN UNION, Petersberg tasks, n.d. Archived 2007-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ EUISS: redirection from old site Archived 2007-07-20 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ WEU, ESDP developments and the Headline Goal 2010 − reply to the annual report of the Council, 15 June 2005, [1] Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ CONSOLIUM EUROPEAN UNION, HEADLINE GOAL 2010 Archived 2007-02-26 at the Wayback Machine

External links

  • EU Council Secretariat, Background- Development of European Military Capabilities: The Force Catalogue 2006, November 2006
  • European Commission, "ESDP: Commission proposes Rapid Reaction Facility to mobilise civilian crisis instruments", 11 April 2000
  • Foreign Policy Research Center report
  • v
  • t
  • e
External Action Service
Council preparatory bodies
European Commission bodies
  • v
  • t
  • e
Union level
Provided through
TEU Article 42.3
  • v
  • t
  • e
Overseas interventions of the European Union1
Military operations
[Ground] force (EUFOR)
Naval force (EUNAVFOR)
  • Adriatic Sea (Operation Sharp Guard, 1993–1996)
  • Somalia (Operation Atalanta, 2008–present)
  • Mediterranean Sea (Operation Sophia, 2015–2020, Operation Irini, 2020-present)
Military missions
Training mission (EUTM)
Civilian missions
Police mission (EUPOL, EUPM)
Capacity building mission (EUCAP)
  • Sahel Mali (2014–present)
  • Sahel Niger (2012–present)
  • Somalia (2012–present)
Border assistance mission (EUBAM)
Rule of law mission (EULEX)
  • Kosovo (2008–present)
Monitoring mission (EUMM)
  • Aceh (2005–2006)
  • Georgia (2008–present)
Military advisory mission (EUMAM)
  • RCA (2015–2016)
Aviation security mission (EUAVSEC)
  • South Sudan (2013–2014)
Mission in support of the
security sector reform (EUSSR)
  • Guinea-Bissau (2008–2010)
Integrated rule of law mission (EUJUST)
  • Iraq (2015–2013)
  • Georgia (2004–2005)
Mission to provide advice and assistance
for security sector reform (EUSEC)
  • RD Congo (2005–2016)
Advisory mission (EUAM)
  • Ukraine (2014–present)
  • Iraq (2017–present)
Police advisory team (EUPAT)
  • FYROM (2005–2006)
  • AMIS EU Supporting Action (2005–2007)
  • PAMECA (2002–present)
  • Minesweeping operation in the Strait of Hormuz, (Operation Cleansweep, 1987–1988)
  • Police and customs operation with OSCE on the Danube (1993–1996)
  • Police contingent in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994–1996)
  • Multinational Advisory Police Element in Albania (MAPE, 1997–2001)
  • Demining Assistance Mission to Croatia (WEUDAM, 1999–2001)
  • General security surveillance mission in Kosovo (1998–1999)
1: Conducted by the Western European Union prior to 2003. These missions were not named using conventional prefixes such as EUFOR, EUNAVFOR etc.
  • v
  • t
  • e
Western Union (1948–1951/1954) Flag of the Western Union.svg
  • Treaty of Dunkirk (precursor, 1947)
  • Treaty of Brussels (1948)
  • Flag
  • Exercise Verity (1949)
  • Operation Gladio
European Defence Community (plan that failed in 1954)
Western European Union (1954–2011) Flag of the Western European Union (1993-1995).svg Flag of the Western European Union.svg
European Union (1992–present) Flag of Europe.svg
Period before the union had defence structures (1993–1999)
  • Maastricht Treaty (1992)
  • Treaty of Amsterdam (1997)
  • Saint-Malo declaration (1998)
European Security and Defence Policy (1999–2009)
  • Helsinki Headline Goal (1999)
  • Seville Declarations (2002)
  • European Security Strategy (2003)
  • CAPECON project (2002–2005)
Common Security and Defence Policy (2009–present)
  • Treaty of Lisbon (2007)
  • Lancaster House Treaties (2010)
  • Operations Centre (2012–2016)
  • v
  • t
  • e
Militaries of the European Union
Austrian Armed Forces

Map of Southeast Asia
Belgian Armed Forces
  • Belgian Land Component
  • Belgian Air Component
  • Belgian Naval Component
  • Belgian Medical Component
Bulgarian Armed Forces
  • Bulgarian Land Forces
  • Bulgarian Air Force
  • Bulgarian Navy
Armed Forces of Croatia
  • Croatian Army
  • Croatian Air Force
  • Croatian Navy
Cypriot National Guard
Army of the Czech Republic
  • Czech Land Forces
  • Czech Air Force
Danish Defence
Estonian Defence Forces
  • Estonian Land Forces
  • Estonian Navy
  • Estonian Air Force
Finnish Defence Forces
  • Finnish Army
  • Finnish Air Force
  • Finnish Navy
French Armed Forces
  • German Army
  • German Navy
  • German Air Force
  • Joint Support Service
  • Joint Medical Service
  • Cyber and Information Domain Service
Hellenic Armed Forces
Hungarian Defence Forces
  • Hungarian Ground Forces
  • Hungarian Air Force
Irish Defence Forces
  • Irish Army
  • Irish Air Corps
  • Irish Naval Service
  • Reserve Defence Forces
Italian Armed Forces
  • Italian Army
  • Italian Navy
  • Italian Air Force
  • Carabinieri
Latvian National Armed Forces
  • Latvian Land Forces
  • Latvian Naval Forces
  • Latvian Air Force
  • Latvian National Guard
Lithuanian Armed Forces
Luxembourg Army
Armed Forces of Malta
Netherlands Armed Forces
Polish Armed Forces
  • Polish Land Forces
  • Polish Air Force
  • Polish Navy
  • Polish Special Forces
  • Territorial Defence Force
Portuguese Armed Forces
  • Portuguese Army
  • Portuguese Navy
  • Portuguese Air Force
  • National Republican Guard
Romanian Armed Forces
  • Romanian Land Forces
  • Romanian Naval Forces
  • Romanian Air Force
Slovak Armed Forces
  • Slovak Ground Forces
  • Slovak Air Force
Slovenian Armed Forces
Spanish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces
  • Swedish Army
  • Swedish Air Force
  • Swedish Navy
  • Home Guard
EU member states
Austria Austria
Belgium Belgium
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Croatia Croatia
Cyprus Cyprus
Czech Republic Czech Republic
Denmark Denmark
Estonia Estonia
Finland Finland
France France
Germany Germany
Greece Greece
Hungary Hungary
Republic of Ireland Ireland
Italy Italy
Latvia Latvia
Lithuania Lithuania
Luxembourg Luxembourg
Malta Malta
Netherlands Netherlands
Poland Poland
Portugal Portugal
Romania Romania
Slovakia Slovakia
Slovenia Slovenia
Spain Spain
Sweden Sweden
European Union portal · War portal