Construction of European security

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CONSTRUCTION OF EUROPEAN SECURITY
Defining Security
Apart from ‘federalism’, there are few words used as often as ‘security’ in international relations which suggest different meanings to different audiences. For the armed forces, security usually has a military connotation; for the inhabitants in most parts of Europe, security is primarily viewed as freedom from criminal activities while for the planners in foreign ministries, security is conceived in a wider context involving multilateral aspects.
According to Arnold Wolfer security should be defined as “the absence of threats to acquired values” (Baylis 1997: 195). Expanding on this David Baldwin (1997: 5-26) considers security to be a situation in which there is “a low probability of damage to acquired values”. In international relations the state has almost automatically been considered the “referent object” of security. As for the values to be defended, these have also been taken for granted: ultimately it is the territorial integrity and political independence of the state that is to be protected.
These specifications to the concept of security are closely linked to a particular model of the international system: the Westphalian model. According to this model, striving for security is in many ways the ultimate concern of the foreign policies of states. This is linked to the assumption of anarchy in the international system. There is no superior authority that can ‘lay down the law’ from a more independent or objective position than the individual states. The international system is, in other words, seen to be in a ‘state of nature’. In such a system, politics is a struggle for power where each state must look after its interests as best it can and with all available means. Questions of values or of morality are, therefore, considered to have little or no place in such a system: they only belong to domestic politics (Lenzi 1997).
During the Cold War the security and defence policies of West European states were to a large extent formulated according to the logic of the Westphalian model. It was during the post-Cold War period that the content of security was broadened and became more protean and ambiguous. An increased number and intensity of links in international society and a far-reaching institutional change in the European security space definitely initiated and marked the end of this single-coloured security concept. As a result the significance of the military dimension decreased as well. The necessity to use nuclear threat as a deterrent in the face of an obvious inferiority of conventional weapons no longer existed. The notion of security policy, consequently, was extended to cover contingencies for other types of threats. In addition to clear military elements, security started to contain political, economic, social, human and environmental dimensions, as the threat emerged from different sources. An effort to counter an increasing number of various threats required, therefore, common or at least concerted policies adaptable to the nature of a particular threat. All this has contributed to the development of a ‘new’ security concept which gains in relevance as the complexity of our modern society grows.

Towards a Common Foreign and Security Policy in the European Union
The history of European integration since 1945 is indissociable from the history of attempts to create a relatively autonomous European security and defence identity (ESDI). For decades, in fact, the question of European defence had the dual and somewhat strange quality of being both a necessary condition for and an obstacle to political deepening of the European Union. It was a condition because only the possession of a minimum of military means would ensure the credibility and effectiveness of any international action by the Union. It was an obstacle since political divergences between member states on the Union’s very legitimacy in defence matters were structural, permanent and irreconcilable, notwithstanding the skilful diplomatic discourse to which the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties today still bear witness.
The Treaties of Dunkirk (1947) and especially of Brussels (1948), were primarily geared to forging a security community which would banish any further prospect of war. But the demands of sovereignty and the sheer complexity of European security problems, including early German rearmament and the need for a transatlantic alliance, ruined the first attempt at defence integration, the European Defence Community (EDC) and a European Political Community (EPC) in the early 1950s1. Thereafter, for almost fifty years, defence was a taboo subject within a purely European context. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s further efforts to make foreign policy co-operation into the core of European integration and various proposals for the European allies to play a greater part in NATO’s activities by creating a discrete ‘European Pillar’ were floated periodically. Security and defence co-operation was defined into an Atlantic context: NATO became the central organisation for security and defence in West Europe and the United States became guarantor of European security. As for foreign policy, it remained within the realm of the nation state. The Europeans focused on using economic instruments as a tool to integrate at the European level and their projects concentrated on generating greater balance in influence and leadership. This did not mean that the idea of European co-operation on foreign and security policy disappeared. At the EU summit in The Hague in 1969, the idea of political co-operation was relaunched and led to the establishment of European Political Co-operation (EPC) in 1972. After this, the system of foreign policy co-operation was gradually expanded, both in terms of its institutional framework and its policy content. EPC became important in the Helsinki process which was launched in the early 1970s, both in terms of co-ordinating the positions of West European states and in setting the overall agenda. EPC also developed a distinct position on the Middle East, most clearly defined in the Venice declaration of 1980. EPC’s capacity to react to situations of crisis was strengthened in the early 1980s but still, all these developments took place outside the treaties (Ginsberg 1989: 23). It was only with the ‘Single European Act’ that EPC was formally included in the treaty framework and that the commitment of the member states to consult and co-operate in foreign policy became a legal obligation (Nuttall 1992: 41-43). Also, EPC developed in the shadow of NATO and of the peculiar constraints of the Cold War. Yet, in large part because of the impossibility of discussing defence and even security issues within the member states, none of those scenarios offered any realistic prospect of recasting the underlying balance of influence and responsibilities inside the Alliance. This meant that the EPC could not be a serious actor in the international system and, consequently, reinforced the image of EPC as the insignificant ‘brother’ of transatlantic co-operation. The end of the Cold War radically changed the security framework in Europe. From being potential enemies, the previous Warsaw Pact states became potential partners both to the EU and to NATO. Assessments of the most important security challenges for Europe were gradually redefined: the likelihood of European states, in particular West European, needing to turn to military power to defend their territories appeared as minimal or non-existent. Focus shifted to more ‘diffuse’ security challenges, such as international crime, ethnic conflicts, terrorism, spread of nuclear weapons as well as humanitarian and environmental crises.
In parallel, a debate developed in Europe about the legitimacy of using military power in other contexts or for other purposes than to defend national territory. In this context, the EU emerged as a natural security actor in particular in situations where collective solutions were sought as well as in situations where there was a need for political and economic instruments and not military force. In a sense the EU can be seen as the embodiment of the co-operative approach to security encouraged by the ‘new’ European security agenda. In key respects it has successfully ‘domesticated’ security amongst its own member states. NATO, on the other hand, which was built on a traditional perspective on security and defence, was expected to have outlived its role. The statement of the Luxembourg foreign minister Jacques Poos2 during the Luxembourg presidency of the EU in the first half of 1991: “This is the hour of Europe, not the hour of the Americans” is symbolic for this period.
The Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty on European Union sought to revitalise European influence on international events by replacing European Political Co-operation (EPC) with the so-called Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) that would encourage the dozen, and later fifteen, member states to speak with one voice on the world stage. The aim of developing a policy that covered ‘all areas of foreign and security policy’ and that should be supported ‘actively and unreservedly by its Member States in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity’ was, clearly, stated into the Treaty. Thus, at a difference from the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty went further than to just write existing practice into the Treaty, and actually laid out new patterns for development in foreign and security policy
As a follow-up to the Maastricht Treaty, the WEU started to strengthen its own institutions and develop military capabilities. In 1992, the so-called Petersberg declaration, which defined the WEU’s security tasks to include peace-keeping, crisis-management and ‘soft security’, was issued. Institutional adaptation to external change did nonetheless not take place with the expected, or desired, efficiency. The 1990s were dominated by intense discussion about ‘alternative security architectures’ in Europe and different institutions often appeared to be competing over the same tasks. It also became evident that even though the security challenges to Europe had changed, the actors’ preferences for solutions were still influenced by some of the same factors as during the Cold War. These were the view on the United States’ role in Europe and the view of the purpose and future development of the EU as an organisation. Behind the formulations in the Maastricht Treaty, there were still divergent views, not only about how to develop a European security policy, but whether or not the EU should have such a policy at all (Corbett 1993). Besides, the text of the Maastricht Treaty was vague enough to create disagreement between two factions, the ‘Integrationists’ led by France and Germany, who wanted to see stronger integration in security and defence, and the ‘Atlanticists’ led by the United Kingdom, who wished to continue with status quo. The question of whether or not the EU could give direct instructions to the WEU was particularly unclear. The Maastricht Treaty also stressed that the development of a common European security policy should not in any way prejudice or challenge Atlantic security co-operation
Expectations about the disintegration of NATO after the ‘loss’ of its enemy did not come true. In fact NATO, under General Secretary Manfred Wörner, turned out to be far more efficient in redefining its role and its organisational structure after the Cold War than the EU. From being a traditional military alliance whose purpose it was to protect the territory of its member states against an external threat, NATO developed a more flexible strategy, which amongst other things would allow it to conduct peacekeeping operations outside NATO territory. The continued relevance of NATO to European security was strengthened at the NATO summit in Berlin in June 1996, where it was decided that a ‘European Security and Defence Identity’ (ESDI) should be developed inside the framework of NATO3. A central element in this strategy was the creation of mobile forces, the so-called ‘Combined Joint Task Forces’ (CJTF). It was agreed that these forces would be available to the WEU for European operations, in situations where the United States itself would not wish to participate. This decision was interpreted as a victory for the Atlanticists in the struggle over the development of security structures in Europe. Any European use of NATO forces was dependent on recognition from the Atlantic Council. Hence, it looked as if the WEU would foremostly be connected to NATO rather than become the defence arm of the EU (Jopp 1997: 153-169). The Berlin agreement was to a large extent made possible by France’s decision to move closer to the military co-operation within NATO4. This was interpreted as a signal that France had abandoned its ambitions about developing a European security policy with the EU at the core, and chosen instead to expand the European security identity inside NATO.
The struggle about the development of EU foreign and security policy was also influenced by external political events. The flaws, in fact, became obvious during the war in Bosnia, where it was somehow demonstrated that any progress in this domain would hardly be achieved without the aegis of NATO. The lack of political will among EU member states was, in fact, so striking during the Bosnian crisis that many European government leaders realised the weakness of the EU as an international actor and definitely turned to the United States for leadership in the Balkans.
The ‘new NATO’ was presented as an institution which was far better suited to tackle the challenges that Europe was facing at the end of the Cold War than the EU. As a result, expectations about EU capabilities in foreign policy in the early 1990s were more and more frequently described as unrealistic. Even external political affairs commissioner Hans van den Broek had to admit: “This policy is in its infancy and so far has registered only partial success”5.
Inside the EU attempts to follow up the ambitions of the Maastricht Treaty moved slowly. The 1996-7 Intergovernmental Conference6, which resulted in the Amsterdam Treaty, was expected to clarify some of the uncertainty about the relationship between the WEU and the EU. Nonetheless, the result was seen as a victory for the Atlanticists. The independence of the WEU was maintained and the organisation
seemed more and more as a protection against a too independent security role for the EU rather than as a defence arm directly subordinated to the EU.
The Amsterdam Treaty
The Amsterdam Treaty did not change the fundamentals of decision-making in foreign and security policy. A careful attempt was made at expanding qualified majority voting in the second pillar of political co-operation by writing into the Treaty that, after unanimous agreement on common strategies, the Council may proceed with majority voting for ‘joint actions’ and ‘common positions’ (Duff 1997: 14-16). This provision was restricted by a provision allowing member states ‘for important and stated reasons of national policy’ to oppose the adoption of a decision by qualified majority voting. Incidentally, this means that the French interpretation of the Luxembourg ‘compromise’ of 1966 was for the first time formally included in the Treaty, even though in a particular policy area. The principle of flexibility, which allows member states to refrain from participation in certain policies has sometimes been presented as a solution to the difficulties and complications resulting from increasingly divergent views on the further integration within the EU. This principle was not extended to the CFSP. Nonetheless, the possibility of ‘constructive abstention’ that was introduced in the Amsterdam Treaty does in practice allow a limited number of states to take initiatives in foreign policy without the full participation of all member states.
Another way of strengthening integration and efficiency in foreign policy decision-making would be to strengthen the role of the Commission. At the same time, this would also help resolve the problem of inconsistency between pillars in external policy. From being almost completely excluded from the former EPC, the Treaty of Maastricht had increased the Commission’s influence in the CFSP. Although the changes fell short of the Commission’s own ambitions in foreign policy, it did for the first time become ‘fully associated’ to all aspects of the EU’s foreign policy and was given the right to propose policies. In response to this increased recognition, the Commission’s services were reorganised. A group composed of the six Commissioners with involvement in external affairs was established and began to meet regularly under the chairmanship of the new Commission President Jacques Santer (Cameron 1996). However, this trend towards a stronger role for the Commission was not taken any further with the Amsterdam Treaty. It has even been suggested that Amsterdam represented a setback for the Commission in foreign policy, after a period of gradual encroachment on the territory of the Council and the Political Directors. It is possible that the Commission’s active role in the early 1990s produced a backlash, with the Member States again being more reluctant to increase its influence in foreign policy (Smith K. 1995: 398). The ability of the Commission to play an effective role in foreign policy was also hampered by problems of legitimacy. With no real democratic accountability for the Commission and little sense of clear EU foreign policy interests which the Commission could claim to represent, it has often been considered difficult to justify the Commission taking centre stage.
Presently, the new Commission, under the leadership of Prodi, seems to be making progress in terms of strengthening the legitimacy of the Commission. In the longer term this might facilitate a stronger role for the Commission in foreign and security policy (Cameron 1997).
In terms of enhancing the cohesion and efficiency of the CFSP pillar, leadership is important. So far, the Presidency has played a crucial role in this respect. Nonetheless, it has been difficult to ensure consistency in the EU’s external representation with leadership rotating every six months. There is some concern that this will become even more of a problem after the enlargement to Eastern Europe. The EU will then have an even larger number of smaller member states. Furthermore, there are some signs that the larger member states have increasing reservations about subordinating their foreign policy to the successive leadership of the smaller member states. It was not possible for the EU member states to agree on Presidency reform at the 1996-97 Intergovernmental Conference (Anderson 1998). However, an effort was made to strengthen the cohesion in the EU’s external representation, and to give the EU a single visible voice in the international system. It was decided to nominate a ‘High Representative’ of the EU in the person of the Secretary General. This reform is considered, by the Commission as well as by France and Britain to be potentially the most important change to the CFSP that came through in the Amsterdam Treaty.
Overall, the first assessments of the Amsterdam Treaty were fairly negative. Most observers stressed that the member states had only made minimal adjustments compared to the Maastricht Treaty and that the principal weaknesses in the CFSP framework were still there (Seidelmann 1998). At the same time, it was argued that one should not exclude the possibility that the Treaty would allow the EU to develop a more cohesive foreign policy. Much was seen to depend on the way in which the institutional changes proposed were implemented, as well as on the political commitment of member states to use the new provisions. Regelsberger and Wessels (1996: 42-43) for example considered many of the problems of the CFSP to stem not from the rules or institutions alone, but from the member states’ reluctance to ‘play by the rules of the game which they themselves established’.

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