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ZEI Discussion Paper C 248/2018

Joseph M. Hughes: “Sleeping Beauty” Unleashed: Harmonizing a Consolidated European Security and Defense Union

ZEI Discussion Paper C 248 / 2018

The under-researched Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) of European defense integration often gets the short end of the stick in EU debate chambers perhaps due to the high levels of discretion, sensitivity and trust that it entails. This undertaking assesses the manifold blockages over time that have inhibited the EU from expanding its CSDP framework into a fully harmonized and operational European Security and Defense Union (ESDU). In doing so, a triangle of European defense integration with a political apex and an economic base and legal base is modeled to help explicate the long road to an integrated defense union. These economic and legal bases, however, are thwarted by the political apex of the triangle in this assessment which sets out to strike a balance between argumentation and objectivity to posit overpowering politics as the paramount blockage to harmonizing a consolidated ESDU, one that enables the EU to capably and willfully defend itself from pressing external security threats outside of traditional security framework dependencies. With the timely and suspenseful activation of permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) via a decision by the Council in December 2017, this assessment tells the seesaw story of European defense integration from its inception, and asserts that an ESDU can indeed be achieved without undermining the existing US-NATO security umbrella upon which Europe has depended for more than half a century.

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