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 With its special character in relation to institutional
design and soft security policies, EU is often classified as a security actor.What
does EU as a security actor means?   How
to explain the notion of security and security community? How European
neighborhood policy does affects self-image of EU as a regional security actor?
 This article ponders on a spur of these
questions. It hinges on the complex notion of security and security community
to examine how they alter EU’s perception as a security actor. Drawing upon
practice theory in International Relations, the article unpacks the security
community and security concepts through the lens of realism, liberalism and
conservatism approach. Further with a focus on constructivism, the article
discusses how constructivism best suits the practice of European Union as a
security actor. It does so by examining self-image of European Union through
European neighborhood policy and how it justifies itself as a regional security
actor.

Security and Security Community

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The purpose of this section is to
examine the concept of security and security community. Security is an
essentially contested concept, the meaning of which cannot be established
deictically. The subjectivity of the term is visible in the problematic
approaches to defining various aspects of security.  Traditional approaches to security which were
widespread during cold war centered on war and peace, protection of territorial
integrity and political independence of nation states from threat and use of
violent force. This narrow approach to security was broadened to include ‘non-traditional
security issues’ in the post-cold war period. Barry Buzan (1983; 1991) is one
of the scholars who challenged the cold-war notion of security in the beginning
of the 1980s, when he introduced five sectors of security (military, political,
economic, societal and environmental). History shows that ‘security’ whether
defied narrowly or widely, is a scarce commodity. Therefore, in the face of
security threat perceptions, states feel the necessity to combine their efforts
to strengthen their own security by acting together. This leads to the
formation of security communities based on the principle of collective
security. Main proponent of security community Karl Deutsch defined it as a
group of states that had become integrated to the point at which there is ‘real
assurance that the members of that community will not fight each other
physically, but will settle their disputes in some other way’.

Taking on the post-cold war
developments, these subjective and broad concepts manifests itself in numerous problems.
First, how to define security problems? This is described as Securitization which
refers to threats requiring extraordinary and emergency measures above and
beyond normal day to day politics.Second, whose security? This problems
oscillates around the traditional state-centric focus to modern day collective security.
Third, how to asses these threats? In this interconnected world access to
perfect information and perfect assessment of others dynamic intentions is
beyond possibility. Fourth, what should be the security policy choices? This is
an extension of the third problem and deals with intended and unintended action
and reaction of actors. This problem is vulnerable to ‘System complexity
effect’ wherein a small action can have major consequences. Fifth problem
revolves around tradeoff between competing goals of security and welfare.

With reference to the above
mentioned broad concept of security and security community, mainstream, stream
scholarship provides three strands of the thought: – realism, liberalism and
constructivism.

Realism

Realism dominated cold war years
because it provided simple but powerful explanations for war and other
international phenomena. The realist paradigm argues nation states are
‘rational actor’ who in the quest for greater national security aim to secure
maximum natural resources. These actors exist in an anarchic structure which leads
to a situation of self-help which threatens the security of its neighbors who
in turn starts to increase in defense leading to security dilemma and
ultimately war. They argue that war, can be prevented but only temporarily. Although
it can be seen that realists focus on high politics , they have not shown great
interest in exclusively writing on the concept of security. Hans Mogenthau for
example did not bother about security and the closest he came was ‘national
security must be defined as integrity of national territory and its institutions.
‘In the post-cold war period, concept of security widened to include issues
beyond the realist paradigm of military security.

Neo-liberalism

Like neo-realism, neo-liberal institutionalism
reckons that international politics is anarchic with states as the unitary
actors. However, contrary to neo-realism, neo-liberalism focuses on how these rational
states construct institutions to encourage cooperation and to further their mutual
interest in survival. Primary determinants of state behavior is state
preferences which is pluralistic in nature.Also, interaction between states can
include high as well as low politics.  They
apply game theory to indicate why states do not cooperate and prefer absolute
gains rather than relative gains.  Neo-
liberalism analyzes issues such as cooperation, economic relations between
states and international politics. The institutions have an important role in
the neoliberal vision in ensuring international security which can be presented
by formal as well as informal arrangements between states.

 

Constructivism

The inability of neo-realism and
neoliberalism to explain post-cold war changes led to the rise of Constructivism.
The term ‘constructivism” was initially introduced by Nicholas Onuf in 1989.
In simple terms, it means ‘people and societies construct, or constitute, each
other’.It has two core assumptions. First, the fundamental structures of
international politics are social rather than strictly material. Second, these
structures shape actor’s identities and interests, not just their behavior. A
constructivist casual change goes from identity to norms to interest to
behaviors.

Constructivists argue that
security is socially constructed. They are concerned about the impact of
socially-constructed norms, identities and strategic cultures on international
security. They argue that states are not power maximizers but try to make the
best of every situation. Along the lines of security community, Constructivism
argues that shared self- definitions and social learning coupled with positive
functional processes leads to the emergence of security communities

Security community was proposed
in the early 1950s by Richard Van Wagenen, but the main proponents of it, is
Karl Deutsch. He defined a security community
as “a group of people” believing “that they have come to
agreement on at least this one point: that common social problems must and can
be resolved by processes of ‘peaceful change’.Deutsch formulated two varieties of security communities:
amalgamated and pluralistic. While both have dependable expectations of
peaceful change, the former exists when states formally unify whereas, in the
latter, states retain their sovereignty.

Another important scholar is
Adler who defined security community as ‘securities communities are socially
constructed because shared meanings, constituted by interaction, engender
collective identities. They are dependent on communication, discourse, and
interpretation, as well as on material environments’. Other important supporters
of constructivism are ‘English School’ and ‘Copenhagen school’ formed by Barry
Buzan and Weaver who emphasize the importance of identity-building and shared
norms. Why constructivism is a more logical approach than other mainstream
actors is discussed in the next section.

Importance of constructivism

In this section, I will explain
the significance of constructivism through comparison with other mainstream
scholarship. With reference to the foregoing it is argued that that
mainstream scholars are generally not comfortable with the notion of security
communities. On the other hand Constructivism can better comprehend the
importance of identity, institutionalization of mutual identification and
transnational values in the concept of security and security communities. Along
this theoretical spectrum, realism lies on one end and constructivism on other.

Neo-realist undertakes only
material consideration to war and security. On the other hand, in their
argument that states construct institutions to encourage cooperation,
neo-liberals divert their attention from the value of shared identities and
transnational interactions. All this, catered to by the constructivist
approach.

It is constructivism which allows for the possibility that
under the proper conditions, actors can generate shared identities and norms that
are tied to a stable peace. The concept of identification is crucial to
constructivism. Constructivism argues that identities are defined with respect
to others wherein the self is identified in relation to its position vis-à-vis the
other. Moreover, for better identification of people as a community, the unit
has to be disassociated with attributes like values, myths etc. it does not
identify with. Constructivism emphasizes how ideas and identities are created,
how they evolve and how they shape the way states understand and respond to
their situation.

 

 It is also argued that the existence or the
perception of threats from the other inevitably strengthens the identity of the
self. Although mainstream approaches also acknowledge identity but
constructivism assumes that selves, identities of states are variable in
various context. This better helps understand security communities.

The importance of constructivism
became particularly important in the post-cold war period where theoretical
problems of mainstream scholarship became increasingly emphasized by scholars.
The fall of berlin wall led to the collapse of ideological walls dividing
Europe which led to a new sunrise with the advent of newly independent states.
With these threats, traditional security issues became obsolete and  non-traditional security issues came to the forefront.
Moreover, with the drastic advent of globalization, threats in contemporary
times are transcending to have spill-over effects with an ever-expanding
magnitude, thus increasing importance of constructivist approach of collective
security. One can argue that collective security regimes in history like concert
of Europe, League of Nations failed to provide efficient collective security
arrangements. However, these examples are not consistent with constructivism
because they didn’t organize themselves against a common threat but rather came
together as a matter of necessity. In this context, September 11 terrorist
attacks provided a conducive atmosphere for fighting against a common enemy,
terrorism. All this argumentation clearly reflects the relevance of
constructivism in understanding the developments towards a new collective
identity of states better to provide collective security.

This is pluristic approach
(inter-governmentalism)– talk about integration of states as well.

 

EU as a regional security actor

European Union’s role as a
security actor is underpinned by a speci?c understanding of security and
security community mentioned above.  Self-image
of European Union as a security actor goes beyond the realist perspective of
adherence to military approaches towards constructivist approaches of
socially-constructed and shared identities and values.

Along constructivist’s lines,
European Union members share the shared norms of human rights, rule of law and
democracy which has fostered European Union’s development into a security
community Moreover, all the 28 members have identify a common threat- non-traditional
security issues which has played an important role in its integration.
Acknowledging the changing nature of security threats all these countries have
decided to come together to solve common problems through peaceful means. In
this sense, European Union has succeeded in creating collective identity
through the process of social learning and concrete institutionalization. It
also stands on Barry Buzan’s which argues that security concerns do not travel
well over distances and threats and works well in geographically clustered
regions. Thus, European Union has proved itself to be the most advanced
community building institutions.

Further to examine if European
Union is an effective regional security actor, it is important to look if it
has successfully fulfilled three necessary conditions: – First, there should be
successful projection of rules and values beyond EU borders. Second, there
should be integration between EU and its neighbors which in turn depends on the
scope of the association agreements, the level of participation in the EU and
the level of adaptation to EU rules and norms. Third, there should be domestic
support by individual states which depends on the capacity of the states to
integrate as well attractiveness of European Union as a regional security actor.
In this context, European Union fulfills that above conditions and has
surpassed the conditions for pluralistic security community of mere integration
and has become amalgamated security community where states bound by same values
and principles have unified for the formation of a coherent community as
evident from Eurozone, no border restrictions etc. European Union’s development
into amalgamated security community is further exemplified from the
over-shadowing of the debates on external relations simply dealing with
relations between individual member states by debates on European Union’s
foreign policy indicating that European Union has become unified as foreign
policy is exclusively used for individual states focusing on their national interests.

EU as a normative power

Concept of ‘normative power’ was
developed by Ian Manners, a supporter of the theory of social constructivism.
Manners proposes a theoretical approach to the way in which European Union
shapes the international environment (producing changes in its standards and
norms), not as much with the use of material instruments (such as military
power, economic or legal measures), but through the power of the attractiveness
of the European project to third parties, encoded in European standards,
values, principles and procedures. The policy conducted within such a framework
towards the external environment is referred to as normative, i.e. promoting
the standards, values and principles of the European project in the
international sphere with the use of specific political instruments (so-called
‘soft instruments’). This is an elaboration of the basic assumptions of the
theory.

 

EUROPEAN NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY

European neighborhood policy
provides the understanding of European security and EU as a regional security
actor as premised on the wider concept of the security and security community. Officially
launched in 2003 by the Commission President Romano Prodi, the ENP focuses to
privileged partnership with Eastern and Southern neighbors through
well-functioning integration. It may be characterized as a ‘stabilization,
transition and Partnership processes. Central to this new relationship is the
neighbors’ commitment to shared liberal values and core EU foreign policy and
security objectives and cooperative multilateralism Even though the ENP has
drawn on the methodology of EU enlargement, it emerges as a new strategy of
Europeanization without accession. According to Anders Bjurner, EU enlargement
should be regarded as “perhaps the most important security-producing process
taking place in Europe today

 

 Seeing the neighbors as a ring of friends
rather than third countries, the ENP seeks to fulfill three objectives 1.
Changed geopolitical landscape on the EUs eastern borders which pose new
security challenges 2. The need to stabilize EU neighborhood in order to
overcome security challenges like terrorism, nuclear proliferation etc. in
eastern region.3. The need to achieve convergence between the internal and
external agenda of the enlarged Union-while new members add to the complexities
of EU system of governance. It is important that EU provides unified policies.

The key elements of the ENP
approach are differentiation, gradualism and benchmarks. Differentitation
recognizes special needs of all its neighbors. This is accompanied by
gradualism tied to partners’ own willingness to proceed with reform. Political
and economic benchmarks will be used to evaluate progress in agreed areas.
Regionalism is characterized by a minimum level of institutionalization: there
will be no new institutions responsible for the implementation of the ENP other
than the joint bodies of the existing agreements.

Given the inadequate instruments
of regionalism in the ENP, it will be difficult for some neighbors to assert
their “Europeanness” through a sense of joint ownership. The lack of a sense of
common identity might induce neighbors to negatively perceive their
asymmetrical relations with the Union and challenge their view of the ENP as a
partnership of shared values. One of the challenges for the EU is to combine
the ENP and the EMP. Another challenge is to achieve a balance between EU
security concerns and mutual interests and identities that will eventually be
shared with the neighbors

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