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European integration as a security project - an ideational approach to EU-neighbourhood relations

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper analyses the interrelationship between internal and external security discourses in the field of European Union''s neighbourhood policy. The European Union can be observed to actively use security concepts developed in the internal policy-field of Justice and Home Affairs as guiding principles of its foreign policy. This development can be traced at least to the beginning of the enlargement process in the turn of the 1990s. The paper firstly examines how those discourses infuse the new domain of neighbourhood policy that starts to take shape in the early 2000s. It concludes that especially since the European Security Strategy (2003) started to talk of the neighbourhood as a security issue, the policy can be considered to have become an inherent part of the Union''s security priorities. Secondly, the paper examines from a theoretical point of view the role of ideas for institutional identity-building. Using the empirical analysis of the neighbourhood discourses as its departure point, the paper considers what this particular type of discourse can tell about the political entity that has emitted it. The research thus rejects the rationalist assumption of separable structure and agency. Instead it subscribes to the discursive institutionalist theory according to which institutions themselves are ideational structures that cannot be treated separately from actors who constitute them. Building its argument on the theses of critical security studies, the work concludes that by conceptualising the neighbourhood in terms of security threat the Union constructs itself as a regional security community.