The focus and aim of this thesis is to explain the mechanisms that lead to a change in European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) after September 11th 2001. Since ESDP was declared operational in Laeken in December 2001 there have been several changes which in sum seem to indicate that the EU now has the tools and the capabilities to act as a security policy actor on its own. The treaty of Nice, which was implemented in 2003, provided ESDP with new agencies and institutions. In 2003, the Berlin plus agreement was finalised which gave the EU access to NATO’s assets and capabilities. In December 2003 the creation of the European Security Strategy (ESS) arrived as an historical event, being the first security doctrine for a supranational organisation. Earlier that year the EU had launched its first two military missions and two international police missions with a high degree of success. In February 2004 France, Britain and Germany decided to pursue the initiative from the ESS by constructing the so-called battle groups concept within the frame of ESDP. In June 2004 the European Council (EC) signed the Constitutional treaty which contained new provisions for ESDP, among others the clauses maintaining collective defence clause and solidarity. The EC also decided to create a European Defence Agency (EDA), whose main task would be to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management. A final example of the latest development has been the EU take-over of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) from NATO in Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH) in December 2004, where the organisation is now responsible for 7.000 troops under the name European Force (EUFOR).
The research questions for this thesis are: “What explains the change of European Security and Defence Policy after September 11th 2001? To what extent can neo-realism or institutional theory explain this change?”
In this thesis I am focusing on the variables I believe to be the most significant in determining the direction of ESDP: US unilateral foreign and security policy and path dependency and spill-over. It is my conviction that explanations of ESDP draw upon assumptions from two opposing vantage points; neo-realism and institutional theory.
As a theoretical framework, both theories have been modified to become more useful tools in analysing the complexity of European Security Policy. The theory of neo-realism contains the contribution from Kenneth Waltz "Theory of International Politics" (1979), Stephen Walt's theory of balance of threat (1987) and Staale Ulriksen's article from 1997 about the EU as a subsystem. Institutional theory on the other hand is a hybrid drawing on assumptions from the integraton theories of neo-functionalism (Haas:1958) and historical institutionalism (Pierson:1998).
The analysis of this thesis is divided in two chapters, each focusing on the ability to find empirical evidence verifying or contradicting the main assumptions of the two theories. The first chapter of analysis debates the question if whether the change in ESDP after 9/11 is a result of balance of power/balance of threat, while the second chapter focus on the internal dynamics of the integration process seeking to answer whether the same process within ESDP is a result of the mechanisms of path dependency and spill-over.
The conclusion of this thesis is that the change in ESDP after 9/11 is a product of the European attempt to power balance the US and it is also a result of the internal dynamics of the integration process. The evidence neither fully supports nor fully refutes either one of the theories. Neo-realism and institutional theory presented in this thesis are theories that complement each other more then they are competing, thus they explain the evolution of the ESDP on two different levels, the structure of the international system and the integration process, where both levels have an independent and correlated effect on the changes in ESDP after 9/11.