European strategic culture: specifics of formation and prospects for development

  • I. V. Stakhurskyi National university of Kyiv­ Mohyla academy
Keywords: European Union, Common Security and Defence Policy, strategic culture, military crisis management, constructivism, norms


The 2003 European Security Strategy calls on EU Member States to develop the European strategic culture as a precondition for an effective Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). The central aim of this article is to consider whether the national strategic cultures of EU Member States have converged substantially since the establishment of CSDP given rise to the unique European strategic culture that is grounded on common way of thinking on security issues. Two contrasting conclusions have been offered in the literature concerning this question.One group of scholars claims that the EU is gaining not only in capabilities and institutions, but also in cognitive homogeneity concerning security and defense issues. They argue that convergence of national strategic cultures, though slow, but did take place and consensus has already been built around shared norms and beliefs. The main features of an emerging EU strategic culture they regard multilateralism, constrained use of force for only humanitarian purpose, the need for external and internal legitimacy for peacekeeping activity, promotion of liberal values.On the other side are those who point out that Europeans still disagree over key security issues due to incompatibility of national strategic cultures. EU Member States share different perceptions of security threats, legitimate means and ends for the use of force, the role of CSDP and NATO in the European security business. Therefore, it is premature to stress on the EU’s building a strong strategic culture.The article starts by presenting the concept of strategic culture in the context of security studies. An overall assessment on how useful the concept of strategic culture could be in terms of insights to the foreign policy outlook has been drawn using the constructive approach. The process of the European strategic culture formation has been investigated thoroughly. The distinct elements of an emerging EU security culture have been identified and the main obstacles to the convergence of the national strategic cultures into the common European have been explained.It has been also highlighted in the article whether the EU has developed a strong strategic culture by applying four criteria: level of public approval for CSDP, acceptance the EU as an appropriate tool for security and defense policy, attitude towards the use of force, authorization requirement. It has been argued that since establishment of CSDP differences in national strategic cultures have narrowed, but still the EU is far from constructing a strong strategic culture. Finally, it has been made a conclusion that slow process of the European strategic culture development prevents the CSDP from being an effective mechanism for the EU crisis management.


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How to Cite
Stakhurskyi, I. V. (2016). European strategic culture: specifics of formation and prospects for development. Scientific and Theoretical Almanac Grani, 19(11), 46-52.