Beyond its borders, when faced with major international security challenges, the European Union is rather understood for what it is not than for what it really is. This paper aims at demonstrating that, despite more than 10 years of European Security and Defence Policy, the EU has hardly gained military skills. As long as the United Kingdom will remain at the heart of the European defense project, the Union is destined to remain a civilian actor. However, the permanent structured cooperation introduced by the Lisbon Treaty could be as important for the Europe of defense as the new economic treaty, which only 26 Members States have pledged to adopt in December 2011, is for the euro.
Key words: European Union (EU), European defense, CFSP, ESDP, crisis management, United Kingdom.