Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

The Entire World's a Stage: The Eu's Strategic Presence in the Contemporary International Arena

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

The Entire World's a Stage: The Eu's Strategic Presence in the Contemporary International Arena

Article excerpt


In the last ten years, an exceptional and diverse series of impacting events-international terrorism, violent conflict situations, war, environmental and natural crises, coups, assassinations and international disputes and challenges-have unfolded. As higher expectations of international bodies in responding to emerging challenges within the international system continue to surface, the shifting structures of actors that deal with those challenges can be readily observed. With the global conflict map undergoing strident change, the focus of strategic analysts is shifting to the global role of the European Union (EU). The EU is seen, more than ever, as a viable and legitimate player that can appropriately respond to existing and anticipated crises in a coherent and coordinated manner, particularly with the application of military force. This article addresses the shifting power structures of the EU as it becomes oriented toward a more unique role that utilizes a 'soft-hard' power duality, and current challenges to EU security. It addresses the emerging role of the EU as an international player and examines several cases of EU intervention in distant theatres of operation..

Keywords: Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), European Security Strategy (ESS), militarization, 'Normative Power Europe,' 'Civilian Power Europe'


As new and dynamic methods of arrangement and displays of causation emerge in the geopolitical and geostrategic constellation, the European Union (EU) is establishing itself as a genuine and viable player using both elements of force and diplomacy in a manner that inexorably define it as a strategic actor on a global scale. In the last ten years, EU member states have demonstrated their ability to act with legitimacy comparable to that of the United Nations (UN) and the United States (US), not merely in the EU's own backyard but in an increasingly international context. While proving that the advanced military capabilities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as its own security and defence forces are not merely anachronistic, the EU has also proven that a justifiable and concrete political mandate exists beyond its own equivocal, if conceptual, borders.

What is the source of new strategic perspectives of the EU? This question has been the recipient of pervasive attention in recent years. As scholars attempt to provide answers to it, many within the analytic community deny the fundamentally unique role that the EU has been playing in the last ten years, particularly in comparison to the position the US has occupied over the previous fifty. Despite what many Americans and Europeans might believe, and even though there is a manifest difference in European strategic culture in the modern world, the characteristics of policy-makers and strategic-planners in the Euro-Atlantic region spring from the obvious practice of the EU during the preceding decade, particularly since 2003.

The contemporary security environment has delivered markedly new security challenges to all nations and international security-oriented organizations all over the world. These new security threats and concerns demand increased attention in such areas as: effective use of force, application of financial resources, management of existing conflict areas, control of and management of anticipated conflict regions, security of civilians and military personnel on the ground, rapid response, crisis response, capacity-building, intelligence and early-detection systems, disarmament, electoral processes, peace process negotiations, and democratization and governance. Although this does not constitute, by any means, an exhaustive list, these fields of policy and practice offer a general sense of the exigency in realizing the need for newer and more complex understandings of the role that the EU has been playing and will continue to fulfil in the years and decades to come. …

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