Previous scholarship has overwhelmingly investigated European defence policy since the end of the Cold War from a supranational perspective. But this approach, as Wyss and Meijer argue, is ill-conceived: it is too heavily based on the European Union's policy of defence integration conceived in the aftermath of the Cold War (the Common Security and Defence Policy), when in reality that integration has been limited.
Instead, scholars should focus first on understanding national defence policies and armed forces, in order to treat them comparatively.
This 'reframing of European defence studies', they argue, 'should allow one to know the component parts in order to understand the whole, namely to study first the national defence policies and armed forces of European major, medium and lesser powers, and then how their differences and similarities have affected defence cooperation in Europe.'
Only this approach will allow us 'to understand the shortfalls of European defence and why a truly integrated European defence has so far remained an elusive quest.'
In transforming our understanding of European defence, this new approach could inform future policy – at a time when Europe faces serious challenges in the form of 'Russian military assertiveness, conflicts on Europe’s periphery and its neighbourhoods, transnational terrorism, [and] stretched defence budgets and tensions within NATO over national contributions.'
'Upside down: Reframing European Defence Studies' is published in the journal Cooperation and Conflict.Back to News