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International Relations and the European Union

International Relations and the European Union (4th edn)

Christopher Hill, Michael Smith, and Sophie Vanhoonacker-Kormoss
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date: 23 June 2024

p. 30514. The EU’s Security and Defence Policy: A New Leap Forward?locked

p. 30514. The EU’s Security and Defence Policy: A New Leap Forward?locked

  • Jolyon Howorth


This chapter examines the ways in which, since the late 1990s, the European Union (EU) has tried to emerge as an effective security and defence actor, albeit one focused on overseas missions connected not with expeditionary warfare but with crisis management and regional stabilization. It starts off by analysing the theoretical approaches to the emergence of this new policy area. It then addresses the empirical factors which caused the EU to tackle new and significant security challenges. Next, it considers the implications for international relations of the EU’s emergence as a security actor and the significance of the EU’s forty overseas missions. Finally, it analyses the developments since the publication of the 2016 European Global Strategy document in the context of new and serious security threats in its Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods. These developments were given sharper focus by Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, intensifying the debate on the EU’s desire to acquire ‘strategic autonomy’. Finally, the chapter examines the growing debate over the EU’s capacity to defend itself from external aggression without overt US support and suggests the contours of a new transatlantic bargain.

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