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The Constitutional Treaty’s novelties in the area of security and defence policy

Eszmélet n°64. November 2004 - 01 novembre, 2004
Hajnalka Vincze

The area of security and defence policy is the one registering the most noticeable positive shifts within the new EU Treaty (referred to as the constitution). These novelties - along with all finally adopted arrangements - are crucial regardless of the "constitution's" immediate fate: they demonstrate the delicate equilibrium between the minimum requirement for effective functioning and the maximum degree of political willingness at the level of the Twenty-Five.

“Starting point: the spectacular but rather mixed dynamics of European security and defence policy” gives a brief overview of ESDP’s development, underlining the deep contradictions at its very root (notably the three-level contradiction related to 1. transatlantic relations 2. the content of the European integration project 3. the desired shape of international order). In this light, any progress on ESDP is to be appreciated in its right place. “Taking into account the fact that real issues behind the advances are still unresolved, the significance and the applicability of the sometimes impressive provisions remains an open question.” The newly introduced elements in ESDP offer “some content, more possibilities, few precisions”. The concise outline of the main changes include the Treaty’s arrangements on the new “European Minister of Foreign Affairs”, flexibility mechanisms, the range of possible operations, collective defence and co-operation in the defence industry field. The section about “The next step: the choice between strategic, operational and technological-industrial autonomy or subordination” lists some of the fundamentals of autonomy: such as its inherence to the whole logic of integration; the support of public opinion; its possibilities and its necessity in the post-bipolar context; let alone the fact that, ever since the Maastricht Treaty, the Union’s basic documents state European “independence” as one of the purposes of the common project. “Hence there is basically one single way to delay – or even try to prevent – the natural course of events: if European political elite – either because trapped in their outdated reflexes, or simply by subservience, cosiness, fear of change – deliberately oppose these logical processes. If, on issues where genuine autonomy is at stake, they prefer to give priority to economic-political interests foreign to Europe. As Jean Monnet, the ‘inventor’ of integration put it in his Memories: “The failures I encountered were less often due to congenitally narrow-minded people than to those who intentionally shut themselves closed to the obvious (…), those made blind by their loyalty to their own system of references.”

Full text in Hungarian.



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