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Understanding European Strategic Culture: Four Dimensions

Kadri Renda
Kings College London
Kadri Renda
Kings College London
Open Panel

Abstract

The research on the emergence of a European strategic culture cluster around two views. On the one hand, there is the formation of EU norms at the supranational level in the shadow of national strategic cultures. On the other hand, one can also observe the reformation of national norms under the influence of EU norms. The first strand of research primarily takes member states as its unit of analysis and seeks for compatibilities between member states’ strategic cultures, whereas the second strand investigates the development of an overarching strategic culture at the supranational level. My purpose in this paper is, however, to unfold European strategic culture into its different dimensions. To get a comprehensive understanding of European strategic culture I aim to elaborate on not only normative dimension, i.e. European norms and preferences about use of force but also look into least explored dimensions. To this end, I will shed light on the four dimensions of European strategic culture: i) representational dimension (narratives of history and representations of geography), ii) perceptual dimension (threat perceptions), iii) interactional dimension (international role), and iv) normative dimension (norms). Narratives about European history, i.e. narratives about the Cold war and ethnic conflicts and civil wars in the Balkans; use of geography, especially representations of EU’s neighbourhood in the discourses of European officials; variation in threat perceptions of the EU; civilian-normative power role played by the EU in the international arena; and lastly norms about use of force are to be explained in this paper. I start with the European Security Strategy and try to build around this canonical document and its offshoots such as ‘the Report on the Implementation of European Security Strategy’ (RI-ESS). I analyze those official documents in conjunction with other resources such as speeches and interviews given by Javier Solana, Catherine Ashton and Herman Van Rompuy.