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Sven Biscop

European Security Strategy Revisited

2009. Vol. 4. No. 2. P. 105–120 [issue contents]

Biscop Sven – professor, Director of the Security & Global Governance Programme at Egmont – The Royal Institute for International Relations (Brussels), visiting professor for European Security at the College of Europe (Bruges) and at Ghent University

The European Union (EU), and the European Economic Community (EEC) before it, has always been a global economic power. That economic weight endowed it with the potential to also become a global actor in the realm of diplomacy and defence, but it was not until 1991 that the Maastricht Treaty created the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Europe began to develop its own foreign and security policy, and even then very tentatively. This chapter aims to assess whether in the 15-odd years since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty, in 1993, the EU has managed to become a global strategic actor, i.e. an actor that consciously and purposely defines long-term objectives, with regard to all dimensions of foreign policy, that actively pursues these objectives, and that acquires the necessary means to that end.

The adoption of the European Security Strategy (ESS) by the December 2003 European Council must be considered a landmark event in this regard. Of course, the ESS was not handed down in the shape of ten neatly summarized points engraved on two stone tablets. It is not because something is written in the ESS that it necessarily will be so, nor is everything written in the ESS. But the simple fact that it is omnipresent – in EU discourse, in statements by European as well as other policy-makers, in the debate in think tanks and academia – and that in December 2007 the European Council by mandating High Representative Javier Solana to produce a report on its implementation by December 2008 launched a high-profile, full-year debate about the ESS, proves that its importance should not be underestimated either. It is the first ever strategic document covering the whole of EU foreign policy, from aid and trade, democracy and human rights promotion, to diplomacy and the military. As such it is first of all a statement of the EU’s ambition as an international actor, and has therefore become the reference framework guiding the EU’s performance as well as the benchmark to judge it. Through its performance the EU at the same time is developing a strategic culture of its own, the maturation of which is helped forward by the ESS. Ultimately however, what really counts to assess whether the EU is a strategic actor, and what determines the consolidation of the EU’s strategic culture, is whether the EU, through its policies and actions, is able to achieve results and realize its ambitions. This paper revisits a previous assessment of EU strategy to take into account the outcome of the 2008 debate.

Citation: Biscop Sven (2009) Osnovy obnovlennoy Evropeyskoy strategii bezopasnosti [European Security Strategy Revisited] INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS RESEARCH JOURNAL, 2, pp. 105-120 (in Russian)
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