This paper analyses and evaluates the CSDP mission planning process, i.e. the procedural model for planning, launching and reviewing CSDP operations. It shows that the EU has developed an intricate planning mechanism by generously drawing upon existing NATO planning doctrine while adding a distinct European touch. These innovations amount to expanding military planning models to civilian operations, tightening political oversight and fostering close links and cooperative mechanisms with the UN peacekeeping system. As such, the innovations mostly pertain to the political aspects of mission planning. However, some problems persist at the strategic and operational levels of mission planning, such as institutional arrangements for planning and commanding operations, procedures pertaining to force generation and inter-pillar coordination, and operational planning doctrine. Lessons learned from recent operational experiences indicate that the mental gap between the political and operational level is in need of remediation. This can be done either by keeping political expectations realistic or by investing more political will and effort in understanding and resolving operational difficulties.