European security and defence identity

This essay will argue that the EU does not have the political will (consensus) or the military capability to control their security without support from NATO. Additionally, the creation of a pan European defence force does not mean the beginning of the end for a European role in NATO. The time frame for this essay will concentrate for the most part on the period following the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Although there had been initiatives in the past 4 decades (prior to the Maastricht Treaty) to create a common or mutual defence agreement.

Introduction European Integration from the Common Market to the single European Currency to the beginnings of a Common Foreign and Security Policy is an attempt in moving beyond the nation state. This move towards political integration by the development of a common defences outside of, but not opposed to NATO is an interesting issue faced by the EU (Leslie, 1996). The question of changing ties in the development of a rival organization (Eurocorps) to the alliance that has been at the heart of European defence for decades (NATO) will be examined.

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The attitude of some Member States will never allow the development of a distinct EU defense identity beyond NATO (MacKinnon , 2000). The shape of the political world has been changing rapidly in the past 15 years. The end of the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the unification of Germany symbolizes the changing political world. These changes have left the Americans feeling a little jumpy, who are worried that an independent EU force will duplicate NATO to the extent that it undermines the Alliance, and hence US influence.

While the George W. Bush presidency will intensify these tensions and not ease them, the Europeans have made very confident statements to the contrary, arguing new capabilities will strengthen the Alliance. “An often quoted phrase is ‘a strong Europe makes a strong Alliance’, which may very well be true as long as it is not weakened by potential isolationist tendencies in the US administration”( http://www. cesd. org/eu/nicebrief. htm ). The United States has too much at stake in Europe ,beginning with trade ,and too much history and culture in common with the European peoples , including Russia ,to permit a retreat into isolationism (Tiersky , 1999).

The European Union was officially born November 1, 1993 when the Maastricht Treaty formally entered into force. The Maastricht Treaty paved the way for a Common Foreign and Security Policy for Europe. Transfers of sovereignty in the sector of foreign and security policy are very limited. Europe’s national leaders did not accept the idea that European institutions were entitled to interfere in such sensitive sectors of national sovereignty in 1993 (Tiersky, 1999).

There was disagreement between France and the United Kingdom about Europe’s role in defense matters. Former French president Francois Mitterrand was in favour of greater autonomy for Europe both inside NATO and in the framework of the European Union, through its merger with the Western European Union (WEU). In contrast the UK is a vigorous supporter of NATO and does not want to accept any European military intervention outside the “American Umbrella” (Tiersky, 1999).

Hugh De Santis argues that an almost religious devotion to NATO stems from many factors, but most importantly there is at present no other institution that can perform its security function (De Santis, 1995, 61). The recent crisis in ex-Yugoslavia has shown that the current structures of the community for foreign and security policy is inadequate. The heads of state and government leaders of the EU have agreed to gradually develop a foreign and security policy (Maastricht Treaty, http://www. nelson. om/nelson/school/discovery/cantext/internat/1992maas. htm). The main lines of this policy can be found in the fields of systematic co-operation between the states, to share views and act commonly. The co-operation with the Western European Union (WEU) has in the Maastricht treaty a central place in the development of the security policy, so that the WEU will become the defensive arm of the EU. For years, the Europeans have relied on the U. S military presence as an insurance policy in times of crisis.

Security could only be had from the west, and the main threat came from the east, as symbolized by the presence of 400,000 elite Soviet troops plus their tactical nuclear weapons right across the West German border. As the threat of the Soviet empire was receding the West German dependency on its western allies (especially the United States), which had kept 200,000 troops on West German soil was also diminishing (Joffe, 1999, 31). But after the bloody intervention in the former Serbian province of Kosovo by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a less than impressive European response .

The question that must be asked is, can an integrated European defence without NATO cooperation be possible? Maastricht Treaty (Treaty of European Union (TEU)) Since December 1990 a number of intergovernmental conferences were held in an attempt to reach a new agreement that would become the basis for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the European Political Union (EPU). These intergovernmental conferences reached their peak at the European Summit of Maastricht in Dec. 1991. The treaty is much less ambitious in its plans for a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) than for other areas of integration (pillar one).

The relevant sections of the treaty build upon earlier initiatives, in particular the Single European Act of 1987, by formally committing the EU “to assert its identity on the international scene, in particular through the implementation of a common foreign and security policy… ” (http://europa. eu. int/abc/obj/treaties/en/entoc113. htm). From now on, the European Council will meet at least twice each year to formulate general guidelines for joint action in the foreign and security affairs of the member countries. These guidelines will then be addressed by the EU Council of Ministers in their regular meetings.

For its part, the Council of Ministers is charged with attempting to reach a common position “on any matters of foreign and security policy of general interest. . . ” It is interesting to note, however, that foreign and security affairs are still explicitly treated by the Maastricht Treaty as intergovernmental issues. Decisions are still unequivocally in the hands of the sovereign governments, and the whole process of CFSP is treated by the Maastricht Treaty as a distinct “pillar” of European Union which is still beyond the legal authority of both the EU Commission and the European Parliament (Maastricht Treaty, http://www. nelson. om/nelson/school/discovery/cantext/internat/1992maas. htm ). The treaty does allow for a system of Quality majority voting on foreign and security matters, but only if all governments have agreed by consensus to permit it. Thus, for all intents and purposes the principle of unanimity is unaffected by the treaty.

Due to the need to reach consensus, the CFSP treaty articles are extremely flexible and open to varying interpretations. Thus, for example, the notion that the EC has a common defense identity and could even have a common defence policy has been stated, but no timetable has been set for their implementation at this time (http://www. elson. com/nelson/school/ discovery/cantext/internat/1992maas. htm). “The building of an ESDI is seen as part of a broad process of reconstruction, so that the Alliance is enabled to carry out more effectively the full range of its missions. In essence, there is no room for an autonomous European defence structure outside the NATO framework” (http://foreign-policy. dsd. kcl. ac. uk/eve. htm#_edn28). The Treaty did not give NATO any specific function in the construction of a CESDP, but did offer assurances to those who feared the undermining of its role.

The policy of the Union, in accordance with article 17 (TEU), shall not prejudice the obligations and the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States as realized within the Alliance, under the North Atlantic Treaty. CFSP decisions with defence implications shall be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within the NATO framework (http://foreign-policy. dsd. kcl. ac. uk/eve. htm#_edn28). Western European Union (WEU)

The Western European Union is a military alliance containing the members of the EU except Denmark, Ireland, Austria, Finland and Sweden. The WEU was founded in 1948, but never became a significant institution in its first 40 years of existence. During the last twelve years the WEU has gained greater importance. In the Maastricht treaty the possibility exists that the WEU might be converted into the future defence army of the EU and become the link between the EU and NATO. Article J. 4 (2) of the Maastricht Treaty, establishes the Western European Union (WEU) as the future defense arm of the EU.