Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2008

The EU and the prospects of Common Defence

Hanna Ojanen

January 1999

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


When thinking of the overall image of the European Union, one would not first come to visualise soldiers with the twelve starlets on blue background on their uniforms. During its 40 years’ existence, the Community/Union has consolidated itself in quite other fields: in agriculture, trade, competition policy. Its own portrait as the ‘ever closer Union’ has gained resemblance with reality, notably through the economic and monetary union and cooperation in justice and home affairs. Common foreign and security policy, then, has from the very beginning been a central aspiration in the process of integration. Many would, however, treat such a goal as some sort of idealism, a wish, and the recurrent formulas about the Union that should speak with one voice in international affairs as some sort of a mantra of the Europeanist faith. Even a cursory acquaintance with the CFSP shows the divergence between the member countries’ views when it comes to essential questions of foreign policy and tends to convince that if such a policy was ever to become a reality, it would at least not imply real common defence or a transformation of the Union into a military alliance - particularly so since following the division of labour between the different international organisations, there are others than the Union to take care of military cooperation.