The European Gendarmerie Force: a solution in search of problems?

Giovanni Arcudi, Michael E Smith

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6 Citations (Scopus)


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 EGF–EU relations, notably in terms of non-optimisation of EU resources and possible incoherence in EU/Common Security and Defence Policy efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Security
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

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).


  • European Gendarmerie Force
  • gendarmerie forces
  • police forces with a military status
  • international civilian police
  • crisis management
  • peacekeeping


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