Abstract european union (eu) foreign policy has long been considered the domaine réservé of the member states. This article challenges such conventional state-centered wisdom by analyzing the influence of the brussels-based eu officials in the common security and defence policy. Using four case studies and data from 105 semi-structured interviews, it shows that eu officials are most influential in the agenda-setting phase and more influential in civilian than in military operations. Their prominence in agenda-setting can be explained by their central position in the policy process. This allows them to get early involved in the operations. The absence of strong control mechanisms and doctrine in civilian crisis management gives them opportunities to affect civilian missions. Finally, eu officials direct civilian operations from brussels, whereas the command of military operations is with the member states and nato.