Towards a Common Foreign and Security Policy

Helene Sjursen outlines key developments in the common European foreign, security and defence policy in the Routledge Handbook of European Politics.

The Routledge Handbook of European Politics is edited by José M. Magone and appeared on Routledge early this year. The rich volume contains a total of 50 chapters.

About the book

Since the Treaty of the European Union was ratified in 1993, the EU has become an important factor in an ever-increasing number of regimes of pooled sovereignty. This Handbook seeks to present a valuable guide to this new and unique system in the twenty-first century, allowing readers to obtain a better understanding of the emerging multilevel European governance system that links national polities to Europe and the global community.

Adopting a pan-European approach, this Handbook brings together the work of leading international academics to cover a wide range of topics such as: the historical and theoretical background; the political systems and institutions of both the EU and its individual member nations; political parties and party systems; political elites; civil society and social movements in European politics; the political economy of Europe; public administration and policy-making; and external policies of the EU.

Achievements and challenges in EU foreign and security policy

The emergence of a common European foreign, security and defence policy is a phenomenon with few if any historical precedents. In theoretical terms it challenges deep-seated ideas and conceptions of this policy field as the exclusive domain of the state and its executive branch. In practical terms it affects patterns of policy formation, cooperation and conflict inside and outside Europe. It forces actors to rethink established working methods, strategies and alliances. The expectation has been that there will be little onus on collective tasks and obligations beyond the interests and preferences of the states in this policy field. Yet, an increasing number of separate studies suggest that some form of integration is taking place.

In her chapter Helene Sjursen outlines key developments in the domain and examine the core characteristics of the ongoing processes of reconfiguration and consolidation of EU foreign and security policy. A particular focus is on analysing the decision-making structures in the complex institutional network that regulates the field of foreign and security policy. The review of the existing literature on the issue is organised around a discussion of the extent to which the EU’s foreign and security policy has moved beyond intergovernmental problem-solving and towards an autonomous governing capacity. A further important question is to what extent and in what ways the foreign policy produced through this system differs from foreign policy as we traditionally understand it. A final focus in the chapter is on how to account for possible integrative moves in this particular domain.

In view of this Sjursen discusses to what extent institutions are merely aggregative or if they also integrate preferences and thus establish a basis for collective action. Furthermore, what kinds of procedures are there that allow coordination to take place in the absence of formal, powerful instruments of compliance? These questions constitute crucial steps to develop a theory accounting for any putative integrative moves in the foreign and security field. Existing attempts to develop such a theory are reviewed.

Full info

Helene Sjursen
Towards a EU Common Foreign and Security Policy: Achievements and Challenges

In: Routledge Handbook of European Politics
José M. Magone (ed.)

Routledge, 2014
ISBN: 9780415626750

Published Feb. 13, 2015 9:50 AM - Last modified Feb. 13, 2015 9:50 AM