Dissertation: Normative power and military means


 Against the backdrop of recent calls for further European integration in security and defence, and even a European army, this dissertation traces the development of the EU as an international security actor over the last 15 years.

It makes an argument on the EU’s international power on two levels. First, it analyzes the EU level outcome (i.e. the character of EU military operations). Second, it offers an empirical account of the political decision-making dynamics of EU military operations. In a nutshell, the dissertation’s central finding is that cooperative bargaining has driven a change of the EU from a normative power to a more liberal power.

The character of EU military operations

The dissertation provides a comprehensive analysis of the military operations that the EU has launched since its Security and Defence Policy became operational in 2003, along three dimensions:

1.   Justification of operations

2.   Embeddedness of the military operation in the EU’s overall foreign policy

3.   Role of UN-authorization

The dissertation shows that utility-based justifications of military operations have become more prominent, and that EU military operations are increasingly embedded in an overall political framework. Moreover, the dissertation suggests that the EU stretches the limits of UN-authorization in the decision-making on the launch of military operations.

The decision-making dynamics in the EU’s Security and Defence Policy.

Beyond a mere comparative analysis of the character of the EU’s military operations, the dissertation shows the decision-making logics that define the interaction among different advocacy coalitions consisting of both Member States and EU-level actors.

What stands out in the decision-making on military CSDP operations is a process of cooperative bargaining, i.e. actors do not change their preferences and ideas, but are willing to compromise and go beyond the lowest common denominator. As such, this research shed light on the debate whether intensification of common operational experience produces a common strategic culture. This dissertation shows that different strategic cultures on EU’s use of military force persist and learning across operations and coalitions remains limited. Cooperative bargaining is the mechanism that connects persistent differences on the use of military force to EU level outcomes. Case studies of EUFOR Althea, EUNAVFOR Atalanta and EUNAVFOR Sophia show that national strategic cultures do not necessarily converge, but neither do they lead to deadlock.


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