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Economic giant, political midget, military worm?

EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy: Strategies and Limitations - Florian Baumann in Karachi

09.12.2008 · Forschungsgruppe Europa

Florian Baumann, research fellow at Center for Applied Policy Research (C·A·P), participated at an international seminar in Karachi (Pakistan) on 26/27 November 2008 with a contribution on "EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy: Strategies and Limitations". The conference "EU as an Emerging International Power: Its Middle East Policy" was co-organized by the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation Islamabad and the Area Study Centre or Europe at the University of Karachi.

A status quo observation of the European Union's (EU) capacity to act as a global power would come to a depreciative conclusion. But seen as an incremental process – as the word "emerging" in the conference title already suggests – the EU performed an outstanding transformation. From the early days of EPC to the present Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) the Union has done a lot to become a relevant power on the global stage. Until today the intergovernmental nature of CFSP, the multiple personalities and the well-known capabilities-expectations gap hinders the Union to fulfill its self-appointed role as global player. New threats – such as transnational terrorism, energy security or failing states – dare new solutions. Based on prevention, a secure neighborhood and effective multilateralism the two main tasks for the near future are to enhance vertical as well as horizontal coherence and to find innovative forms of risk management.

One possible way to overcome the structural weakness of CFSP is the concept of the EU as a Risk Community. Risk community means joint European risk management based on a common risk perception. Shared fears or perceived insecurity can be triggered by external events, such as regional conflicts or nuclear proliferation, as well as by internal processes like an economic downturn or rising nationalism. If citizens, national authorities and EU politicians become conscious about common problems or essential challenges and the resulting mutual dependency a joint response is only consequent. The interdependence of member states’ security and the inability of the single nation state to address most of the risks effectively makes a reanimation of the  process of European integration inevitable. For security studies in a narrowed sense the European risk community calls for a renewed strategic orientation of CFSP. The ESS and the follow-up sub-strategies did a good job but the EU is in the need of a new approach on foreign and security policy. What does that mean?

  • First of all the ESS has to be re-formulated and updated. The balance between "Global Challenges" and "Key Threats" is inappropriate today and they should more be framed from a risk perspective. In addition an ESS 2.0 should be more precise about triggers and means for security action.
  • Secondly CFSP and ESDP structures have to be more aligned to the pillars of community action. Cross pillarization between the EC, CFSP and the area of justice and home affairs can set free synergies instead of wasting capacities due to duplication.
  • Third and lastly below the level of an ESS 2.0 the sub-ordinated strategy documents have to deal more with the elements of risk management: prevention and precaution. This dualistic toolbox of pre-emptive and reactive instruments, as formulated in the European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy, should be applied to all fields of CFSP.

Left out the EU's remarkable success as a common actor in foreign and security policy the world is not waiting for the Union to adopt. While old threats have vanished new risks appeared and Europe should be ready to address them on time.

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