With its special character in relation to institutionaldesign and soft security policies, EU is often classified as a security actor.Whatdoes EU as a security actor means? Howto explain the notion of security and security community? How Europeanneighborhood policy does affects self-image of EU as a regional security actor? This article ponders on a spur of thesequestions.
It hinges on the complex notion of security and security communityto examine how they alter EU’s perception as a security actor. Drawing uponpractice theory in International Relations, the article unpacks the securitycommunity and security concepts through the lens of realism, liberalism andconservatism approach. Further with a focus on constructivism, the articlediscusses how constructivism best suits the practice of European Union as asecurity actor.
It does so by examining self-image of European Union throughEuropean neighborhood policy and how it justifies itself as a regional securityactor.Security and Security CommunityThe purpose of this section is toexamine the concept of security and security community. Security is anessentially contested concept, the meaning of which cannot be establisheddeictically. The subjectivity of the term is visible in the problematicapproaches to defining various aspects of security.
Traditional approaches to security which werewidespread during cold war centered on war and peace, protection of territorialintegrity and political independence of nation states from threat and use ofviolent force. This narrow approach to security was broadened to include ‘non-traditionalsecurity issues’ in the post-cold war period. Barry Buzan (1983; 1991) is oneof the scholars who challenged the cold-war notion of security in the beginningof the 1980s, when he introduced five sectors of security (military, political,economic, societal and environmental).
History shows that ‘security’ whetherdefied narrowly or widely, is a scarce commodity. Therefore, in the face ofsecurity threat perceptions, states feel the necessity to combine their effortsto strengthen their own security by acting together. This leads to theformation of security communities based on the principle of collectivesecurity. Main proponent of security community Karl Deutsch defined it as agroup of states that had become integrated to the point at which there is ‘realassurance that the members of that community will not fight each otherphysically, but will settle their disputes in some other way’.Taking on the post-cold wardevelopments, these subjective and broad concepts manifests itself in numerous problems.First, how to define security problems? This is described as Securitization whichrefers to threats requiring extraordinary and emergency measures above andbeyond normal day to day politics.Second, whose security? This problemsoscillates around the traditional state-centric focus to modern day collective security.
Third, how to asses these threats? In this interconnected world access toperfect information and perfect assessment of others dynamic intentions isbeyond possibility. Fourth, what should be the security policy choices? This isan extension of the third problem and deals with intended and unintended actionand reaction of actors. This problem is vulnerable to ‘System complexityeffect’ wherein a small action can have major consequences. Fifth problemrevolves around tradeoff between competing goals of security and welfare.With reference to the abovementioned broad concept of security and security community, mainstream, streamscholarship provides three strands of the thought: – realism, liberalism andconstructivism.
RealismRealism dominated cold war yearsbecause it provided simple but powerful explanations for war and otherinternational phenomena. The realist paradigm argues nation states are’rational actor’ who in the quest for greater national security aim to securemaximum natural resources. These actors exist in an anarchic structure which leadsto a situation of self-help which threatens the security of its neighbors whoin turn starts to increase in defense leading to security dilemma andultimately war. They argue that war, can be prevented but only temporarily. Althoughit can be seen that realists focus on high politics , they have not shown greatinterest in exclusively writing on the concept of security. Hans Mogenthau forexample did not bother about security and the closest he came was ‘nationalsecurity must be defined as integrity of national territory and its institutions.
‘In the post-cold war period, concept of security widened to include issuesbeyond the realist paradigm of military security.Neo-liberalismLike neo-realism, neo-liberal institutionalismreckons that international politics is anarchic with states as the unitaryactors. However, contrary to neo-realism, neo-liberalism focuses on how these rationalstates construct institutions to encourage cooperation and to further their mutualinterest in survival. Primary determinants of state behavior is statepreferences which is pluralistic in nature.Also, interaction between states caninclude high as well as low politics.
Theyapply game theory to indicate why states do not cooperate and prefer absolutegains rather than relative gains. Neo-liberalism analyzes issues such as cooperation, economic relations betweenstates and international politics. The institutions have an important role inthe neoliberal vision in ensuring international security which can be presentedby formal as well as informal arrangements between states. ConstructivismThe inability of neo-realism andneoliberalism to explain post-cold war changes led to the rise of Constructivism.The term ‘constructivism” was initially introduced by Nicholas Onuf in 1989.In simple terms, it means ‘people and societies construct, or constitute, eachother’.It has two core assumptions.
First, the fundamental structures ofinternational politics are social rather than strictly material. Second, thesestructures shape actor’s identities and interests, not just their behavior. Aconstructivist casual change goes from identity to norms to interest tobehaviors.
Constructivists argue thatsecurity is socially constructed. They are concerned about the impact ofsocially-constructed norms, identities and strategic cultures on internationalsecurity. They argue that states are not power maximizers but try to make thebest of every situation. Along the lines of security community, Constructivismargues that shared self- definitions and social learning coupled with positivefunctional processes leads to the emergence of security communitiesSecurity community was proposedin the early 1950s by Richard Van Wagenen, but the main proponents of it, isKarl Deutsch. He defined a security communityas “a group of people” believing “that they have come toagreement on at least this one point: that common social problems must and canbe resolved by processes of ‘peaceful change’.Deutsch formulated two varieties of security communities:amalgamated and pluralistic. While both have dependable expectations ofpeaceful change, the former exists when states formally unify whereas, in thelatter, states retain their sovereignty. Another important scholar isAdler who defined security community as ‘securities communities are sociallyconstructed because shared meanings, constituted by interaction, engendercollective identities.
They are dependent on communication, discourse, andinterpretation, as well as on material environments’. Other important supportersof constructivism are ‘English School’ and ‘Copenhagen school’ formed by BarryBuzan and Weaver who emphasize the importance of identity-building and sharednorms. Why constructivism is a more logical approach than other mainstreamactors is discussed in the next section.Importance of constructivism In this section, I will explainthe significance of constructivism through comparison with other mainstreamscholarship.
With reference to the foregoing it is argued that thatmainstream scholars are generally not comfortable with the notion of securitycommunities. On the other hand Constructivism can better comprehend theimportance of identity, institutionalization of mutual identification andtransnational values in the concept of security and security communities. Alongthis theoretical spectrum, realism lies on one end and constructivism on other.Neo-realist undertakes onlymaterial consideration to war and security. On the other hand, in theirargument that states construct institutions to encourage cooperation,neo-liberals divert their attention from the value of shared identities andtransnational interactions.
All this, catered to by the constructivistapproach.It is constructivism which allows for the possibility thatunder the proper conditions, actors can generate shared identities and norms thatare tied to a stable peace. The concept of identification is crucial toconstructivism. Constructivism argues that identities are defined with respectto others wherein the self is identified in relation to its position vis-à-vis theother.
Moreover, for better identification of people as a community, the unithas to be disassociated with attributes like values, myths etc. it does notidentify with. Constructivism emphasizes how ideas and identities are created,how they evolve and how they shape the way states understand and respond totheir situation.
It is also argued that the existence or theperception of threats from the other inevitably strengthens the identity of theself. Although mainstream approaches also acknowledge identity butconstructivism assumes that selves, identities of states are variable invarious context. This better helps understand security communities.The importance of constructivismbecame particularly important in the post-cold war period where theoreticalproblems of mainstream scholarship became increasingly emphasized by scholars.The fall of berlin wall led to the collapse of ideological walls dividingEurope which led to a new sunrise with the advent of newly independent states.With these threats, traditional security issues became obsolete and non-traditional security issues came to the forefront.Moreover, with the drastic advent of globalization, threats in contemporarytimes are transcending to have spill-over effects with an ever-expandingmagnitude, thus increasing importance of constructivist approach of collectivesecurity.
One can argue that collective security regimes in history like concertof Europe, League of Nations failed to provide efficient collective securityarrangements. However, these examples are not consistent with constructivismbecause they didn’t organize themselves against a common threat but rather cametogether as a matter of necessity. In this context, September 11 terroristattacks provided a conducive atmosphere for fighting against a common enemy,terrorism. All this argumentation clearly reflects the relevance ofconstructivism in understanding the developments towards a new collectiveidentity of states better to provide collective security.
This is pluristic approach(inter-governmentalism)– talk about integration of states as well. EU as a regional security actor European Union’s role as asecurity actor is underpinned by a speci?c understanding of security andsecurity community mentioned above. Self-imageof European Union as a security actor goes beyond the realist perspective ofadherence to military approaches towards constructivist approaches ofsocially-constructed and shared identities and values. Along constructivist’s lines,European Union members share the shared norms of human rights, rule of law anddemocracy which has fostered European Union’s development into a securitycommunity Moreover, all the 28 members have identify a common threat- non-traditionalsecurity issues which has played an important role in its integration.Acknowledging the changing nature of security threats all these countries havedecided to come together to solve common problems through peaceful means. Inthis sense, European Union has succeeded in creating collective identitythrough the process of social learning and concrete institutionalization. Italso stands on Barry Buzan’s which argues that security concerns do not travelwell over distances and threats and works well in geographically clusteredregions.
Thus, European Union has proved itself to be the most advancedcommunity building institutions. Further to examine if EuropeanUnion is an effective regional security actor, it is important to look if ithas successfully fulfilled three necessary conditions: – First, there should besuccessful projection of rules and values beyond EU borders. Second, thereshould be integration between EU and its neighbors which in turn depends on thescope of the association agreements, the level of participation in the EU andthe level of adaptation to EU rules and norms. Third, there should be domesticsupport by individual states which depends on the capacity of the states tointegrate as well attractiveness of European Union as a regional security actor.In this context, European Union fulfills that above conditions and hassurpassed the conditions for pluralistic security community of mere integrationand has become amalgamated security community where states bound by same valuesand principles have unified for the formation of a coherent community asevident from Eurozone, no border restrictions etc. European Union’s developmentinto amalgamated security community is further exemplified from theover-shadowing of the debates on external relations simply dealing withrelations between individual member states by debates on European Union’sforeign policy indicating that European Union has become unified as foreignpolicy is exclusively used for individual states focusing on their national interests.EU as a normative powerConcept of ‘normative power’ wasdeveloped by Ian Manners, a supporter of the theory of social constructivism.
Manners proposes a theoretical approach to the way in which European Unionshapes the international environment (producing changes in its standards andnorms), not as much with the use of material instruments (such as militarypower, economic or legal measures), but through the power of the attractivenessof the European project to third parties, encoded in European standards,values, principles and procedures. The policy conducted within such a frameworktowards the external environment is referred to as normative, i.e. promotingthe standards, values and principles of the European project in theinternational sphere with the use of specific political instruments (so-called’soft instruments’).
This is an elaboration of the basic assumptions of thetheory. EUROPEAN NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY European neighborhood policyprovides the understanding of European security and EU as a regional securityactor as premised on the wider concept of the security and security community. Officiallylaunched in 2003 by the Commission President Romano Prodi, the ENP focuses toprivileged partnership with Eastern and Southern neighbors throughwell-functioning integration.
It may be characterized as a ‘stabilization,transition and Partnership processes. Central to this new relationship is theneighbors’ commitment to shared liberal values and core EU foreign policy andsecurity objectives and cooperative multilateralism Even though the ENP hasdrawn on the methodology of EU enlargement, it emerges as a new strategy ofEuropeanization without accession. According to Anders Bjurner, EU enlargementshould be regarded as “perhaps the most important security-producing processtaking place in Europe today Seeing the neighbors as a ring of friendsrather than third countries, the ENP seeks to fulfill three objectives 1.Changed geopolitical landscape on the EUs eastern borders which pose newsecurity challenges 2. The need to stabilize EU neighborhood in order toovercome security challenges like terrorism, nuclear proliferation etc.
ineastern region.3. The need to achieve convergence between the internal andexternal agenda of the enlarged Union-while new members add to the complexitiesof EU system of governance. It is important that EU provides unified policies. The key elements of the ENPapproach are differentiation, gradualism and benchmarks. Differentitationrecognizes special needs of all its neighbors. This is accompanied bygradualism tied to partners’ own willingness to proceed with reform. Politicaland economic benchmarks will be used to evaluate progress in agreed areas.
Regionalism is characterized by a minimum level of institutionalization: therewill be no new institutions responsible for the implementation of the ENP otherthan the joint bodies of the existing agreements. Given the inadequate instrumentsof regionalism in the ENP, it will be difficult for some neighbors to asserttheir “Europeanness” through a sense of joint ownership. The lack of a sense ofcommon identity might induce neighbors to negatively perceive theirasymmetrical relations with the Union and challenge their view of the ENP as apartnership of shared values. One of the challenges for the EU is to combinethe ENP and the EMP. Another challenge is to achieve a balance between EUsecurity concerns and mutual interests and identities that will eventually beshared with the neighbors