A Shaky Pillar of Global Stability: The Evolution of the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy

9 Colum. J. Eur. L. 299 (2003)

Sergio Baches Opi. LL.M. E.U. Law, Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (1995); LL.M. International Business and Trade Law, Fordham University School of Law, New York (2000). Mr. Baches Opi is an attorney with Uría & Menéndez, Barcelona (Spain).

Ryan Floyd. Member of Yale International Security Studies’ Grand Strategy program and a Smith-Richardson Fellow.

The terrorist attacks of September II, 2001 shocked the United States (U.S.) and the rest of the world, marking a new era in international law and policy. The events have spawned a new concert of great powers that appear to recognize a need to coordinate their foreign policies to fight against terrorism. Today, the political and military relationship between the U.S. and the European Union (EU)-which seems now much more important than their highly publicized economic cooperation i-is a major pillar of the global order. In this new state of affairs, the EU’s international credibility and effectiveness will depend on the ability of its Member States to consolidate and then build upon the common foreign and security provisions contained in the Treaty on European Union (TEU), while simultaneously advancing their own military capabilities.

As this article will point out, the process of European integration provides the backdrop for an analysis of the European common foreign and security policy. The chief intention of the treaties establishing the three original European Communities, especially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (TEC), was to foster economic integration among the original six Member States; the legal instruments granted therein to the European institutions were neither designed nor suited for political integration. As the economic objectives of the treaties were gradually achieved, Member States became convinced that only greater political integration could provide the full benefits of economic integration.

In response to this concern, Member States have reformed the Community treaties to strengthen the political underpinnings of European integration. In this regard, Member States have made a number of advances in the realm of political integration with the aim of reinforcing the European Union’s role on the international stage through the creation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in the three important revisions of the Treaty of the European Community- the Single European Act (SEA), the TEU, and the Treaty of Amsterdam. The Nice Treaty may also be seen as a modest step forward in the development of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The mere constitutionalization of the CFSP, despite the CFSP’s several deficiencies, represented a remarkable advance in the creation of a stable and strong EU in the field of external relations. However, in spite of theseconstitutional advances, there is a feeling of frustration in both the U.S. and Europe about the EU’s sluggish and sometimes clumsy reaction to conflicts close to its borders, such as the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina or the Kosovo crisis. The failure to react appropriately prompted the EU to garner the political will necessary to strengthen its CFSP so as to prevent further loss of its international credibility and help it to assert greater global political influence.

The purpose of this article is to analyze the past shortcomings of the CFSP as well as the evolution of efforts to provide the EU with a more sound and common European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). Such a structure would allow for further cooperation in military and diplomatic affairs to achieve the objectives of the CFSP. The constitutional development of the CFSP and the EU’s defense policies will be analyzed in conjunction with the EU’s response to various international crises. The analysis will stress that the establishment of an effective CFSP is increasingly important in dealing with international terrorism and those states which threaten to destabilize the international legal order.

Despite Member States’ efforts, the CFSP has been less competent than expected, primarily due to conflicting national security priorities and the lack of the necessary political will needed behind such an ambitious project. If EU Member States want a successful common security and defense policy, their respective politicians must make compromises of national interest for the sake of cooperation and drive their governments to increase the military capabilities of each Member State. The EU is struggling against different national histories, cultures, and politics in each Member State in addition to their inability to modernize their respective militaries. The Balkan crises have illustrated the difficulties the EU faces in managing the military and non-military aspects of those upheavals without the intervention of the U.S. through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO or the Alliance).As this article explains, the ESDP is a relatively new issue for the EU. Member  States only began efforts to develop the ESDP and discuss the establishment of a so-  called “Rapid Reaction Force” at the European Council Summit held in Helsinki in  December 1999. The Summit set the agenda for the creation of a Rapid Reaction  Force, but that agenda-already a mighty task for the Europeans-must be expanded  and supported so the EU can respond to international terrorism and other threats to  global stability.