The independent resource on global security

3. Europe: an emerging power



I. Introduction

II. Europe: from confederacy to federation?

III. The European Union: towards a stronger security role

IV. NATO and Europe: the need for a new concept

V. The OSCE: failure or success?

VI. Conclusions


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Decisions taken in 2000 imparted a new quality to the process of shaping the European identity in matters of defence and security. Within the European Union (EU), these were the decisions on the common European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and those taken at the European Council meetings, under the Portuguese presidency in Santa Maria da Feira in June and under the French presidency in Nice in December.


The provisions of an operational nature that were agreed commonly within the existing institutions as well as those made by individual states were sustained by a serious political debate on a future European security system. In 2000 that debate comprised three elements: (a) the further transformation of the multilateral security structures and their accommodation to the new politico-military situation, including decision making; (b) the recognition of the need to enlarge the EU, extend it to the east and south of Europe, and forge mutual relations with NATO, particularly with the USA, in the domain of security and defence; and (c) Europe’s response to the conflict situations on the periphery of Europe—in the Balkans and the Caucasus.


A decade after the end of the cold war and the fall of the bipolar system, the EU faces the challenge of determining its role in the security sphere. This calls for both deeper institutionalization of its relationship with NATO and redefinition of its relations with the USA. The decisions adopted in 2000 by the Nice European Council meeting effectively undid the political division of Europe established at Yalta.


Two factors are of key importance for Europe’s security in the military field: the US presence in Europe and its commitment to the defence of the European continent; and the place and role of the North Atlantic alliance. Both assume cooperation and relations of partnership with other security-related institutions, within the EU (the ESDP) and within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Because of the nature of the organizations, the EU and the OSCE are irreplaceable in conflict prevention, crisis management and resolution, including peacemaking and peacekeeping missions. Their significance becomes more critical in promoting democratic change, market reform and the rule of law. At the same time, however, they cannot substitute in the foreseeable future for either NATO’s infrastructure or its military capabilities.


The broadly conceived transatlantic relationship covers three parallel processes: the emergence of Europe as a quasi-power; the shaping of a new type of relationship between the EU and the USA within NATO as one of the significant factors in the new security environment; and the firm anchoring of democratic values and interlinking of vital interests which have enabled Europe to become a community of democracies. However, nothing is predetermined: the European participants need to go beyond their national particular interests in shaping their common future. An enlarged, integrated and self-assured Europe is becoming a significant actor in the search for a common security strategy. The initial steps on the road from the community of values towards a more balanced transatlantic security partnership have already been taken.



Appendix 3A. Documents on European security

Full text Appendix 3A [PDF].

This appendix reproduces the texts of the Nice European Council Meeting Presidency Conclusions, and the NATO Report on Options for Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBMs), Verification, Non-proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament.