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Session Overview
Panel 116: EU Global Strategy, EU Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP and Brexit
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
10:50am - 12:20pm

Session Chair: Adrian Treacher, University of Sussex
Location: Anfiteatro 6

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EU Global Strategy, EU Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP and Brexit

Chair(s): Adrian Treacher (University of Sussex, United Kingdom)

Discussant(s): Adrian Treacher (University of Sussex)

The panel explores developments in European defence since the UK’s ‘Brexit‘ referendum in 2016. What is the impact of the Brexit process on European ambitions concerning defence cooperation and is the UK’s manoeuvring to be outside the Union an opportunity or a threat to EU ambitions to build a stronger defence identity? There are tensions between different visions among key member states, in particular between those wishing to promote defence cooperation among all member states with UK support, those who envisage a more limited engagement by a vanguard of defence-minded states, and those who rely on traditional bilateral relationships. The panel further looks at the significance of several elements in the patchwork of EU security and defence, including Battlegroups, PESCO and the evolution of CSDP as a component in meeting the goals of the EU Global Strategy.


Presentations of the Symposium


British-German Defence and Security Cooperation in the Context of European Defence Integration and Brexit

Monika Brusenbauch Meislová, Jana Urbanovská, Martin Chovančík
Masaryk University

This paper aims to examine Brexit implications for security and defence cooperation between the UK and Germany in the context of accelerating defence collaboration within the EU. Despite any assessment being necessarily provisional, the inquiry explores the ways in which relevant German and British actors have engaged in the Brexit process so far, outlining how they have attempted to mitigate and address the Brexit-associated uncertainties in the sector (both direct and indirect ones). Of particular interest are two vectors of tension. The first one concerns the tension between Germany’s emphasis on protecting and developing EU cohesion and the necessity of building a privileged post-Brexit defence partnership with the UK. The second one pertains to the tension in existing and future defence and security cooperation projects between the preference for bilateral partnerships between EU members and the UK on the one hand and multilateral UK-EU approaches on the other.


Marching into Battle or Extinction? Understanding the Existence of the EU Battlegroup Concept

Laura Chappell
University of Surrey

The EU Battlegroups have been at full operational capacity since 2007. Despite this they have never been used. Repeated statements by various EU officials that the Battlegroups need to be made more useable have been uttered in 2013, 2014, 2015 and more recently in the EU Global Strategy (EUGS), the report on the implementation of the CSDP elements of the strategy and permanent structured cooperation in defence (PESCO). However previous talk on reforming the EU Battlegroups which occurred first under the Swedish Presidency in 2009 and later under the Polish Presidency in 2011 attest to the difficulty in reconfiguring them. In this context, the article sets out to answer the following research question: what factors shape the continued existence of the EU Battlegroup Concept? To do so a social constructivist framework, including the concepts of norms, path dependency and the mechanism of socialisation, is utilised to understand EU and Member State officials’ thinking regarding the Battlegroups. Altogether the research has important implications not just for the likely success in deploying the EU Battlegroups but also for discussions surrounding the creation of a so-called Euro-army and overall for the capability initiatives currently ongoing in CSDP which have a political underpinning – PESCO being a case in point. After all, if the political willingness is not there to engage fully in the process of developing and deploying capabilities, then this will lead to a sub-optimal CSDP which fails to have ‘strategic autonomy’ (EEAS 2016) to provide for Europe’s security.


EU Security and Defence Cooperation in Times of Dissent: Analysing PESCO, the European Defence Fund and the European Intervention Initiative (EII) in the Shadow of Brexit

Simon Sweeney1, Neil Winn2
1University of York, 2University of Leeds

The paper evaluates steps towards European defence cooperation since the UK ‘Brexit’ referendum in 2016. The UK has traditionally been unsupportive of any EU defence identity so ‘Brexit’ might be an ‘opportunity’ for the Union to make good on the commitments in the EU Global Strategy. In contrast, the UK’s distancing from the Union may be extremely damaging given its military primacy, spending more on defence and having the largest defence-industrial complex and together with France having power projection capability. Since the referendum the EU has taken significant steps towards boosting defence capability, including the launch of Permanent Structured Cooperation, a European Defence Fund and a command Headquarters for Civilian Crisis Management under CSDP. An important initiative may President Macron’s establishing the European Intervention Initiative (EII) outside of EU structures. This is an invitation only group that has won backing from 9 states, including the UK and Germany. The paper analyses these developments and speculates on the risks and potential outcomes from Britain’s unique position as (we presume) outside the EU but committed to European security and defence. The paper also evaluates the relationship between Britain and France since the Lancaster Gate Treaties of 2010. How is this affected by the post-Brexit referendum scenario and how will it shape developments in EU defence? The paper is underpinned by institutional theory and analyses EU performance in meeting the challenges outlined in the EU Global Strategy.

Fighting for Europe? The European Union, Strategic Autonomy and the Use of Force

Sven Biscop

Egmont Institute & Ghent University, Belgium

Brexit, the British decision to leave the European Union (EU), the election of Donald Trump and his less than convincing statements on the utility of NATO, in combination with the general instability around Europe have spurned a strong dynamic in European defence. In 2018, the EU launched Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), aimed at achieving a degree of military autonomy by pooling the defence efforts of 25 of its 28 member states. The aim is for Europeans to be able to deal with crises in their periphery by themselves, as well as maintain a basic defence industrial capacity, all in order to be less dependent on non-European allies and partners. The least discussed dimension of this project, however, is what exactly Europeans want to have the strategic autonomy to do under the EU flag? Which types of operations, in which parts of the world, at which scale, would they be willing to undertake, for which political purpose? This paper will assess the potential autonomous EU role in four scenarios: defending Europe; stabilising Europe’s neighbourhood; maintaining the freedom of the global commons; and defending Europe’s democratic partners. What are Europeans willing to fight for?

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