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The European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy: Central issues . . . Key Players

Authored by Dr. Fraser Cameron, Prof. Roy Ginsberg, Mr. Josef Janning. | May 1995

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These are confusing times for anyone trying to work out whether the European Union (EU) has any prospect of developing a common foreign and security policy (CFSP) worth the name. When the CFSP was established, it was in answer to a range of internal and external challenges. Internally, the completion of the Single Market and the drive toward economic and monetary union (EMU) necessitated corresponding moves towards Political Union, of which CFSP was a central element. Externally, Europe was expected to use its economic weight to achieve more political influence and ensure stability around its borders.

The 1991 Maastricht negotiations to establish the Treaty on European Union (TEU) took place in the midst of a geopolitical earthquake which hit Europe following the collapse of communism and failed to take into account, let alone attempt to meet, the enormous challenges posed by the unification of Germany, the sweeping changes in central and eastern Europe, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. There were high expectations for the CFSP which superseded the previous light framework of European Political Cooperation (EPC) . The European Council became directly involved, not only through the single institutional structure, but also as the body to issue mandates for joint. The views expressed are personal and do not commit the European Commission in any way. Title V included a number of improvements, such as the ending of taboo areas (one could now discuss issues having military implications), the provision for joint actions (Article J.3), and even for majority voting, albeit only on the implementation of joint actions, common positions (Article J.2) and the inclusion of security and defense (Article J.4) with the WEU designated "an integral part of the development of the European Union."

The final text of the Treaty represented a compromise between the advocates of a community approach (8 member states led by Germany) and those in favor of an inter-governmental approach (4 member states led by the UK and France). Given theneed for unanimity at the IGC, the minority in favor of an intergovernmental approach were able to carry the day. A pillar structure was thus established which involved different arrangements for CFSP (and the third pillar covering Justice/Internal Affairs) than used for the first, or Community pillar. Jacques Delors considered the changes a recipe for confusion. Regrettably, his forecast has been proved all too accurate with numerous EU disputes over competencies between the different pillars.

The treaty text also papered over a dispute between the so-called Atlanticists and Europeans as regards the question of common defense. It was agreed to review the defense aspect and the institutional working of CFSP at the IGC in 1996.

Since Maastricht, three countries (Austria, Sweden and Finland), one of which has a 1200 km border with Russia, have joined the EU. It is likely that by the Cannes European Council in June there will be ten associated states in central and eastern Europe?all of whom have made it crystal clear that EU membership is a top priority. Turkey, Switzerland, Cyprus and Malta all still have applications on the table. In short, it is not difficult to imagine a 25-30 strong EU within the next decade.

This paper seeks to examine the CFSP in operation, discusses its weaknesses, suggests some areas for improvement and assesses the attitudes of Germany, France and Britain both to current arrangements and likely future proposals.


In sum, the centrality of the CFSP process to Germany and German foreign and security policy will be articulated in the upcoming negotiations. This should not be read as an almost unrestricted push on the part of the German government for major advances?negotiators have become rather careful if not timid in light of the ratification experience of the Maastricht Treaty. It should also not be misread as a government policy position which oscillates between integrationist proposals and the attraction of inter-governmental and extra-EU offerings. It rather suggests a rationale for a reform perspective of the CFSP of the EU that is compatible with, and conducive to, the interests and preferences that may be attributed to the united Germany in the 1990s.