Policy Paper 8

The world is the stage: a global security strategy for the European Union

The purpose of this paper is to offer an appraisal of Solana’s initial document on European Security and Defence Policy and contribute to the fine-tuning and implementation of the security strategy.



The Solana document is an outline ; the next step is a fully- fledged security strategy. That it draws on a comprehensive concept of security is obvious firstly from its assessment of the new security environment, particularly in its designation of poverty and bad governance as being at the heart of problems, and secondly from its call for a strengthening of the international order through policies that make use of the complete range of instruments available to the EU, thus exploiting to the full its variegated facets. The conceptual framework can still be strengthened though, in order to provide a clear and powerful link between diverse external policy areas, between policies vis-à -vis various regions etc. The concept of GPGs can provide the key in this respect.


Further debates on the document, which will hopefully go into more detail as to the instruments required to make the security strategy operational, should take into account the comprehensive approach at that level as well, by detailing the EU’s idea of partnership and conditionality, of institutionalised, rule-based multilateralism, of the use of force etc. With regard to the latter issue, an explicit reference to the authority of the Security Council and rejection of pre-emptive military action seems desirable, in view of the role-model function of the EU. Such a reference would also increase the legitimacy of the EU’s external policy.


It would also seem advisable to soften the emphasis on threats in the current document, which contrasts somewhat with the de facto comprehensive approach that the out line advocates. This comprehensive stamp can be given more substance by further developing the other dimensions of global governance, such as the international economy or legal order. These actually have a higher profile – albeit as instruments of security policy – in the US National Security Strategy. To that end extensive use can be made of existing EU policies and documents in the various areas of external action. Finally, the nature of a renewed transatlantic partnership could be outlined in more detail.


Another important consideration is the legal status to be given to the security strategy. To ensure that it will function effectively as the framework for the whole of the EU’s external policy, it might be worth stipulating that future action plans and CFSP and Community instruments relating to external action must refer to the security strategy. Ideally, the security strategy as framework for external action should be mentioned in the future Constitution. Of course, a comprehensive security strategy contrasts with the US National Security Strategy and certainly with recent US policies. The Solana outline and the National Security Strategy share an emphasis on threats. Threats are the dominant theme throughout the US document ; all policy areas are considered in the light of the fight against proliferation of WMDs and “rogue States’ and particularly of the “war” against terrorism – a struggle that “will be fought on many fronts against a particularly elusive enemy over a long period of time” -, referred to as “our strategic priority”. On the contrary, the Solana document, when it comes to dealing with these threats, advocates a much more positive and comprehensive approach. As one diplomat put it : according to the American document, the world is dangerous ; according to the Solana document, the world is complex.


In the National Security Strategy, the emphasis is on defence policy and the use of military means, including pre-emptively.57 The US document also exudes unilateralism : even though the text is peppered with references to “allies and friends”, it makes it clear that these are expected to accept US leadership and that the US “will be prepared to act apart when our interests and unique responsibilities require”. The EU is barely mentioned. It is primarily seen as “our partner in opening world trade” and even though the US “welcome[s] our European allies” efforts to forge a greater foreign policy and defence identity within the EU”, the basic concern is “to ensure that these developments work with NATO”.


Yet, the EU security strategy should not be interpreted as being directed against the US. On the contrary, the EU and the US should aim to reinforce the transatlantic partnership in all fields of external policy, not just in NATO, in order to put their combined means to use in the most efficient and effective way “for good in the world”, in the words of Javier Solana. But this should be an equitable partnership, one which both partners enter into on the basis of their own priorities and their own distinctive approaches to security. In this respect as well, the first step is to define an EU security strategy.