An insight in decision-making processes and preferences of the policy makers on security and defence issues.
The new Global Strategy for the European Union’s Security and Defence Policy presented in June 2016 by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini, followed by the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July of the same year, come at a moment of high uncertainty and radical change in the international system. Traditional alliances are being questioned and both national and regional political and economic interests are taking shape along emerging fault lines, while new strategic perspectives are being outlined on various fronts.
In this context, the idea of the return of “cosmopolitics” in Europe emerge as one of the most overbearing themes in the current debate. European security and defence have been once again put on the political agenda as priority issues. Mogherini’s Global Strategy, while pledging for a stronger and more independent European Union “as a global security provider”, stressed that the EU has now “to cope with super-powers as well as with increasingly fractured identities” and, in doing so, it cannot be alone. For this reason, the new strategy, as well as a Joint Declaration by Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Junker and NATO’s Secretary General, solemnly asserts the need of a strengthened cooperation and interdependence between the EU and NATO – and that, in both operational and ideological terms.
“The purpose, even the existence of our Union is being questioned. Yet, our citizens and the worlds need a stronger European Union like never before”. Yet, it seems, the EU institutions’ answer to Europe’s “identity crisis” is a military one, where the definition of common interests and needs is built again upon an imperialist vision of the world. If the process of reconstruction of the European identity is more and more anchored to the existence of “external threats”, while the measure of cooperation and solidarity among the Member States is based solely on an increasing level of militarization, how can Europe find a credible alternative to the offence-defence dipole?
Different reactions have welcomed the new Global Strategy among the EU Member States, reflecting their respective divergent interests and preferences according to each specific politic, economic, cultural, social, and geographic situation. Despite this, all of them agreed on the urgent need of a stronger security and defence policy. In an era of potential structural changes several questions arise. How these preferences on security and defence are made? To which set of priorities should we refer? Are choices made according national priorities, or rather according to common visions and values within political families? Or, again, to a combination of both? In order to better understand the changes in the international environment, their causes and consequences, the analysis of the decision-making process in security and defence policy becomes an issue of increasing interest. When it comes to these matters, how do actors define their preferences? More specifically, at the European level, the “ancestral dichotomy” between Europeanists and Atlanticists seems to be back again, leading the political debate about the future (and the present) of European security on a slippery terrain. The new provisions in the EU Global Strategy clearly support the adoption of measures aiming at strengthening a more autonomous military capacity for the European Union, always in the framework of NATO. Some Member States have expressed the fear that such provision will harm the security of the region; some others have welcomed the news as a necessary, inevitable step in reinforcing both regional and national borders. How do the European countries which are members of both the EU and NATO deal with their double membership in this context?
It seems fair to presume that traditional categories and theories are no longer sufficient to explain the phenomenon in a global environment that becomes more and more complex, while the balance of power on both the European and the international scale is even more likely to induce atypical, if not anomalous alliances (at least on specific issues and interests) according to the traditional dynamics of International Relations. Brexit, Trump’s election and his positions towards the EU and NATO as well as Russia and Turkey, the tensions linked to the Ukraine conflict, climate and energy justice, the war in Syria, transatlantic commercial agreements: all – yet not only – these recent major events open new scenarios for potential new dynamics, unusual conflict lines as well as renewed forms of cooperation.
On top of this, institutional conflicts within the European Union itself about decision-making in foreign policy have always existed. Existing literature on the topic seems insufficient to identify how such conflicts appear also within each institution according to both political families and national interests’ fractures. It results necessary to identify a new paradigm according to which such processes are being led. This would allow political researchers to better understand – and, ultimately, influence, such dynamics. Which instruments do we need? Which theoretical framework do we want to use?
Notwithstanding the absolute necessity of a clearer and updated picture of the current situation, comprehensive – if possible – of an exhaustive appraisal of all the different positions and interests put on the table by the various institutional and non-institutional actors in the game, a major long-term issue arises. It would be convenient to ask ourselves whether the reflexion should be broadened to a more structural, comprehensive analysis of the European Union identity and its role in the international system. Even more, we should take into consideration the urgent necessity of arguing the current global neoliberal system, and all the consequent narratives about security, threats, external and internal enemies, and eventually move towards the construction of an alternative international system.
Of course, this would require a major intellectual and political effort, comprehensive of a series of interdependent, multiple long-term analysis. In a more brief-term perspective, this preliminary work will try to capture some of the essential elements characterising the key issues of security and defence at the European level in the aftermath of the new EU Global Strategy and its implementation. Moving from some preliminary considerations about the above mentioned strategy as well as the NATO Warsaw Summit implications for EU-NATO relations, it will provide a brief description of the Common Security and Defence Policy decision-making process and its main actors. A special chapter will be dedicated to an overview of the military structure of the EU, in an attempt to give a glance at this extremely complex interconnection of agencies and body, see how they work and understand the level of interconnection with the EU institutions and the Member States.
Two final sections aim to portray the European Union in the changing global context by framing the current debate on the new EU Global Strategy within a broader picture where multiple variables, events and actors play an important role in defining the Union and its role in the world.
1. BRIEF CONTEXTUALISATION – THE EUROPEAN CFSP AND CSDP THROUGH THE INTEGRATION PROCESS UNTIL THE PRESENT DAY
2. CFSP AND CSDP TODAY: THE RETURN OF COSMOPOLITICS IN EUROPE AND THE PRESSURE FOR A STRONGER EUROPEAN DEFENCE
3. THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS IN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY: BUILDING A STRATEGY
4. THE MILITARY COMPOSITION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. CSDP STRUCTURE, INSTRUMENTS AND AGENCIES
5. DIFFICULTIES IN ANALYSING THE PROCESS AND INTERPRETING THE OUTCOMES – HOW PREFERENCES ARE MADE?
6. POLITICAL CONFUSION, GLOBAL CONTEXT AND INTERNATIONAL ORDER
7. OTHER RELEVANT ISSUES IN THE DEBATE ON EUROPEAN SECURITY: BREXIT, TRUMP, AND RUSSIA
8. CONCLUSIONS AND FINAL REMARKS