European strategic culture revisted: the ends and means of a militarised European Union
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This study addresses whether the EU, as an emerging strategic actor, (1) has developed a capacity to formulate common security interests (ends), and (2) can generate the relevant capabilities (means) which it has the resolve to use to defend these common interests. The study employs the concept of strategic culture as a framework for strategic analysis in an attempt to capture the intergovernmental, institutional, formal and informal mechanisms that underpin the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). It first shows how the EU, as a result of an institutionalisation process, has moved from a purely intergovernmental system towards a system of governance in security and defence, then briefly revisits the field of strategic culture studies to argue that strategic culture should be seen as essentially a product of strategic discourse and practice. These two factors are, in turn, traced along four strategic dimensions—the social, the logistical, the technological and the operational—to provide a comprehensive overview of the ESDP. The article concludes that the emergence of a European strategic culture, as an ongoing process, has allowed the EU to leapfrog many of the obstacles inherent to a transnational security polity. The most significant factor in this process has been the establishment of a central institutional capacity, which in key areas has facilitated the emergence of the EU as a strategic actor.
Does EU have the institutionalised cooperation and the self image of a strategic actor who will act rapidly when necessary? Over the last decade the European Union has engaged in increasingly demanding military operations. Recognising the need to supplement European crisis management and prevention instruments with the use of force, the European Security Strategy of 2003 asserted that the EU needed “to develop a strategic culture that fosters early, rapid and when necessary, robust intervention”. Do the European Union’s ambitions to play a role in international relations mean that it can also be seen as an emerging strategic actor with the will and means to use military force as part of its foreign policy repertoire? Supplanting the traditional intergovernmental focus of European Union foreign policy studies with a systematic analysis of the effects of institutionalised cooperation, this study takes a holistic approach based on the concept of “strategic culture” to the analysis of the European Union. By studying the emergence of a European “strategic culture” from within four central dimensions of the European Security and Defence Policy, the author provides a comprehensive assessment of developments that are of great importance to anyone interested in European security.