The interaction between EU CSDP and relevant NATO policies integration of NATO and EU on defense policy is the main subject of this article. This is why the aim is to deal with and analyze whether the European integration with NATO should/can be. To do so, the article develops arguments for and against the questions under analysis. There is though a security dilemma lying ahead the EU; in a global environment where international terrorism is on the rise, should its efforts concentrate on striking a balance of power with the US, or should it concentrate on tackling—alongside the US and under the NATO umbrella—terrorism which today threatens many countries of Europe?
European cooperation has evolved gradually over a long period through European Integration process. It is not only a political, legal, economic, social and cultural process, but also it is a process developing policies on collective defense and security issues for European Union (EU) member states. For most of the countries that participate in the EU, this is a new area of discussion as until now it has always been the case that defense issues were dealt with inside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and in cooperation with the United States (US).
The emerging security situation after the end of the cold war was the main reason of presence for the Alliance, as its main rival—the Warsaw Pact—went out of business. By the time, its future relevance became questionable and many rushed to claim it as out of date because of the changes of the threat structure. Therefore, the problem for the Alliance has been its role in the global arena that was certain after the cold war. It is possible that there are several reasons which may have lead the Alliance towards its decline. An important one is the US–EU relations, which always have been under minor or at times even major tension. But are issues such as this really able to lead the Alliance towards its expiration? The truth is that virtually no one believes relations should continue as they seem to be today, or that the transatlantic cooperation should be abandoned totally.
On the contrary, most allies would like it to continue existing, but on a new basis. The continuation of US–EU cooperation inside the NATO, however, depends exactly on how it eventually will shape up in the future. NATO’s European allies’ attitude is on the focal point as they desire a new and deeper kind of relation that is more than cooperation. Do they really want the Alliance to continue to exist in stronger ties with the EU or would they much rather develop their own military capabilities via the European integration process and, more specifically, via the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP)? What has begun as a political and economic—and in some cases even social and cultural—integration of European states now may lead also into defence integration. The initial process by which sovereign states relinquish their national sovereignty and surrender sovereign prerogatives within an international institution to maximize their collective power and interests indeed has increased the European allies’ appetite to march in a more autonomous direction. But, can the EU achieve this goal? Can this be a potential reasonable target for the EU? What must be stated here is that the rise of the EU as a more effective power is certain—on the contrary—and this is something that should be taken into account when examining the European integration with NATO.
2. CSDP Interactions with NATO
EU’s decision to launch the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) in December 1999 – outside the institutional framework of the North Atlantic Alliance – alerted the Unied States to the possibility of the EU’s potential “decoupling” from the transatlantic security structure. Hence, the US administration pushed for the institutionalisation of the EU-NATO relationship through which the US hoped to be in a position to have a certain degree of control over the ESDP development and to ensure that the EU would not undermine NATO’s position as the key military organisation in Europe.
However, for the EU, access to NATO’s military experience, expertise and resources provided an important capacity as its ESDP was still “under construction”. Moreover, NATO’s actions as an effective “war fighting organisation” would provide another benefit for the EU when collaborating with NATO in the defence aspect. Indeed, although the ESDP dimension of the EU once again forced NATO to re-think its own position in the light of a potential new organisational rival in military crisis management, NATO nevertheless assumed the role of a “military consultant” by functioning both as a model and active assistant for the EU’s institutional build-up of ESDP institutions.
The EU aspires to strategic autonomy and this would have the effect of allowing the US to focus its activities on different and more urgent regions of the world. But, after fifteen years of efforts, CSDP failed to deliver an autonomy. NATO had to be called upon for leadership during the 2011 Libya crisis, and the emerging security threat from Russia brought NATO firmly back to Europe. In practice, the EU finds itself once again dependent on NATO for its collective defence and even for its collective security.
Since the EU‘s December 2013 European Council meeting on CSDP, there has been partial agreement within the security community that greater cooperation and complementarity between EU and NATO is urgent and indispensable. But what precisely is being called for? The documents themselves are extremely vague in this respect. The European Union Global Strategy (EUGS) refers to NATO on many aspects. It mainly refers to deepening the transatlantic bond and partnership with NATO and working closely with partners, beginning with NATO. Specific cooperative projects include cyber threats, security sector reform, capacity building, strengthening resilience among neighbourhood states, global governance, maritime security, parallel and synchronized exercises and hybrid warfare. The same list of cooperative projects is to be found in the EU-NATO Joint Declaration of 8 July 2016. How can this insistence on cooperation and complementarity be reconciled with the aspiration towards strategic autonomy?
The official explanation plays on institutional niceties. This is what the EU Global Strategy-EUGS- says:
When it comes to collective defence, NATO remains the primary framework for most member States. At the same time, EU-NATO relations shall not prejudice the security and defence policy of those Members which are not in NATO. The EU will therefore deepen cooperation with the North Atlantic Alliance in complementarity, synergy, and full respect for the institutional framework, inclusiveness and decision-making autonomy of the two.
In other words, being different entities, with somewhat different members, and having different objectives, the two must live with and respect to each other. This is a largely legalistic argument (the two are indeed different legal entities), but one with clearly substantial political connotations (Their policies and activities in the security and defence area overlap to a large extent).
In most of the major statements, While NATO remains the primary actor in European collective defence, the EU should be able to contribute more substantially to that objective, and undertake robust missions in which the US has no interest. The apparent implication here is that the EU (via CSDP) aims to become a military actor comparable to NATO – while not undermining it or questioning its supremacy.
3. The Need for Strong Cooperation
a. Common Threats
When a global view is taken on current situation, there arises a variety of geo-strategic challenges with which NATO and EU member states have to deal with. The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and its military actions in eastern Ukraine have led to a rethinking of how the NATO and the EU should deal with the emerging Russian expansionism. A major strategic challenge has emerged with the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Ukraine conflict in Eastern Europe to which NATO – with a special regard to its Eastern member states – has to react appropriately. Since 2004, NATO air forces have been involved in securing Baltic air space. In the aftermath of annexation of Crimea, these air patrolling forces increased in numbers.
Russia’s primary objective is to restore itself as a major global power and pole in the international system. Its effort is to reverse US influence in Europe, by itself influencing foreign and security policies of both the EU and its nearby countries, so that these remain either neutral or support Russian policies. The cases of both Ukraine and Georgia—where Abkhazia and South Ossetia were forced to separate from Georgia—remind us of this Russian goal about expansionism.
It is now clear that Russia is the main challenge for the regional security and stability. Moreover, even in political terms, it presents various challenges and dilemmas to regional countries. It seems that both the regional countries and the global players have not yet been able to develop a common and systematic strategy to handle this problem stemming from Russia.
On the other hand, Russia’s line of thinking has been increasingly visible also in key Russian strategy documents. For example, the most recent National Security Strategy (from December 2015) scolds the adverse consequences of Western attempts to build a regional security system based on NATO and the EU, and unequivocally states that the USA and the EU both counteract Russian national interests and to that end instigate instability in Eurasia (National Security Strategy 2015).
In short, for the Kremlin, the “Wider Europe” expansion is seen as building a bulwark against Russia, and it is those kinds of division lines the Kremlin wants to overcome.
In addition to Russian threat, in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region there are several developments, which touch upon the security policy interests of NATO and EU in varying degrees. Primarily, the focus lies on containing the advancement of Islamic fundamentalism, especially the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
At the same time, Western nations strive to inhibit the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and manage the reached agreement with Iran. In the North of Africa, state structures have to be strengthened or even restored in order to counter the spread of fundamentalist movements and to keep migration to Europe in check.
For NATO, redefining security in the post-Cold War scenario has been the concern of the new Strategic Concepts since the end of bipolarism. Parallel to a broadening of the concept of security in the academic context, during the 1990s, NATO significantly broadened the range of what it now considers to be security challenges: cybersecurity, instability beyond NATO’s borders, terrorism, energy security, health risks, climate change and water scarcity are explicitly mentioned in the 2010 Strategic Concept, something probably unthinkable only fifteen years before.
The evolution of security concerns in the last years has led the NATO to focus particularly on ‘hybrid warfare’ – the combined use of the full-spectrum of modern warfare tactics, tools and domains by an enemy within a complex and coherent strategy. If the combination of conventional and non-conventional weapons has always been a reality in warfare, the specific form of the current hybrid menace, and the way it is embedded in a highly coherent strategy, pose new and specific problems to the target. 
The concept of hybrid threat has been revived in relation to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the ISIL/Da’esh campaigns going far beyond Syria and Iraq. However, elements of hybridity can be traced in many other dimensions of the current security environment. Various governments in the EU’s southern neighborhood (i.e. the Gaddafi regime in Libya or the current government in Turkey) have used the complexity of migratory movements as a pretext to demand various concessions from the European Union. Simultaneously, ISIL/Da’esh seeks to instill fear in EU citizens and governments, pushing them to take more hostile attitudes towards refugees, ultimately strengthening the image of the EU as an anti-Muslim society, to its discredit.
b. Soft Power Effect:
The concept of soft power, which has been developed by Joseph Nye, conceptualizes the instruments and policies that states employ to use power over the minds and feelings of foreign publics. According to Nye, soft power is “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments.” On the contrary to conventional wisdom, soft power is not everything non-military.  In academic literature and news media there is a tendency to label all non-military elements of state power as soft power (such as cyberattacks, economic sanctions, blackmail, etc.) which generates confusion about the term. It is the power over the minds and hearts of people that can be used through propaganda and public diplomacy.
In early 2000, many EU member-states believed that civilian power—or soft power as Kagan calls it—should prevail over military power. Nowadays, the general consensus is that a Union of 29 member-states constitutes a global power, which deserves to have a say in the management of international problems. For the past few years, the EU has developed important defense and security functions by using military and civilian power.
The EU has gained the ability of automatic access to NATO mechanisms—such as Berlin Plus in a complementary basis of functioning and acting alongside the Alliance. This may indicate that Americans and Europeans do not share the same strategic vision. Of course, civilian power is not of greater importance than military power, but unless the US realizes that both are equally important, then their views will continue to change. At the moment, the US offers the EU a protective military power and the EU in return offers democratic legitimization in their combined operations. Without this democratic legitimization, the US will find it difficult to convince the world regarding the “purity” of its actions. If NATO indeed was shaped—always according to the first NATO Secretary-General, Lord Hastings Ismay—to “… keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” , then surely the EU should continue its sole development as a security actor.
Ever since the early years of the Cold War, soft power has been an integral part of the grand strategy of the Western powers to prevent the spread of communism in Europe, to liberate Eastern European countries from the Soviet control and, eventually, in the post-Cold War era, to combat Russia’s attempts “to re-Sovietize the region”. The countries that form the buffer between Russia and Europe have been, since over a millennium, either the cause or the battleground of the collision between the two. Both Russia and European powers have always tried to dominate these territories, for various economic and geopolitical reasons. Up until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the region had been under full control of Moscow. The disintegration of the Union re-started the old struggle for the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine) and South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia).
While both EU and NATO has used soft power effect especially on post-soviet region for a long time, it is the EU not NATO which has been the more powerful actor in this space, which is a paradox because de facto what the EU did in terms of neighborhood policy was rather a low profile, it wasn’t enthusiastic but it had an effect or at least a potential impact.
The EU may be the best actor to deal with problems of a socio-economic nature and ensure that they do not escalate into major crises requiring military action. On the contrary NATO may not appropriately deal with these kinds of problems. The importance of soft security—which includes economic, social, demographic and environmental problems—has an impact on national security and political stability.
The need for this kind of security is also mentioned in NATO’s 1999 Strategic Concept, something which indicates that even the Alliance begins to realize its great importance. Of course these do not mean that the EU should not or must not develop more serious and effective military capabilities if it wishes to have a global role, as military issues do have an impact on regional stability. Therefore it cannot rely solely on political and diplomatic means. These should be complemented by military means, and the European Security Strategy (ESS) is a step towards this dimension. The importance of the ESS lies in the fact that such a document will contribute to the democratic legitimization of the CSDP.
4. The Obstacles against Cooperation
a. Desire for an Autonomous Europe
Since the publication of the European Union Global Strategy (EUGS) in June 2016, there have been numerous calls for the re-launch of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The foundational logic behind CSDP was, from the outset, autonomy. At the Franco-British summit in Saint-Malo in December 1998 (the birthplace of an autonomous CSDP), it was believed that only via a European agency would the member states develop genuine military capacity and generate a strategic approach to regional security challenges.
In Saint-Malo, the British and French political leaders of the time, signed a common declaration to advance the creation of a European security and defence policy, including a European military force “capable of autonomous action”. The declaration specifically stated that “the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crisis”.
But this will for the autonomy had some other drawbacks and different interpretations for Europe. For the EU’s public opinion, the problem was that no matter how important the American contribution was to the end of the cold war, the US just could not consent to the EU’s direction towards autonomy. Most probably the US does not want the EU to duplicate NATO capabilities, but the American objection in any kind of EU defense emancipation is obvious. We could even argue that in order to remain the world’s only superpower, America probably needs a weak EU, instead of a powerful one.
The EU should try to be more active when it comes to defense issues, and to be autonomous or complementary NATO relations. The EU should have an active role in conflict prevention, and to deal with them effectively, especially when these happen in its own region. For this to happen, the EU should be empowered by obtaining operational, military and institutional means—via the CSDP—and should develop instruments of an autonomous and active role in preventing, resolving and dealing with crises.
The CSDP must equip the EU with the ability to take autonomous and substantial actions, especially when NATO is unwilling or not ready to act. For such an ability to exist, the EU should develop specific operational capabilities, based on credible military forces. The EU must therefore try to obtain its own military capabilities—that is effective army, navy and air force; otherwise it always will have a disadvantage when compared to the US military capabilities.
It is evident that the great expectations that have arisen may produce a more coherent strategic vision on the EU’s behalf, something that it lacked until now. Such a vision will take flesh and bones only if it manages to overcome its military capabilities deficits. The development of an independent and autonomous CSDP in the new, complex and global environment always is a target for the EU.
The Union cannot stay only as an observer of developments that have a direct effect on political and economic interests of its member-states, but whether such a vision can be fulfilled is something that we will see in the future.
b. Problems within Europe and NATO
NATO’s objective about collective defense hasn’t fundamentally changed since its foundation. But on the other hand EU had undergone deep changes about its objectives and modified its structure since its foundation in 1951. While it was only an economic union at first, then it became a political union which has supranational powers.
In 1992, Western European Union issued Petersberg Declaration which can be thought as the basis of European Defence structure. There were two main objectives one of which was that WEU would serve as the defense component of the Europe, and the other was about forming a way to strengthen the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance. Petersberg Declaration was different from Saint-Malo, because it was projecting a defence structure not apart from Alliance although the latter was forseeing an autonomous defense structure.
After the Petersberg Declaration, there have been disagreements among NATO members. Non-EU NATO members feared that developing a separate European security cooperation would weaken the hegemony of the Alliance and give way to unnecessary duplications. On the other hand, some powerful actors of EU such as France and Germany thought that Europe was too much dependent to the US and EU should increase its autonomy in the international arena especially when its own interests were on the focus.
In 1996 during the ministerial meeting in Berlin, NATO countries recognized the existence of a European Security and Defense Identity and accepted that EU members could use the WEU to execute missions using NATO capabilities as long as the NAC approval would be taken.
In 1999 NATO Washington Summit, just 5 months after the Saint-Malo Summit, which had made a solid base for an autonomous European Defense, NATO declared that it can make arrangements for access by the EU to collective assets and capabilities of NATO. And two months later EU side took the expected step by explaining its relevance to play its full role on the international stage.
On the Turkish side, however there were serious concerns about this cooperation mostly stemming from Greece and possible Cyprus existence in the EU. A compromise known as Ankara Document was reached in 2001 which paved the way for Ankara to stop the inclusion of Cyprus to any NATO or NATO-EU joint operation and making any ESDP operation in Eastern Mediterranean without Turkey’s consent.
With these reservations being confirmed in Nice Implementation Document, Turkey lifted its objections and opened the way for establishment of NATO-EU agreed framework for cooperation in crisis management. After that, Berlin Plus arrangements became the main basis for NATO-EU common crisis management operations.
Since then, the EU-NATO relationship had produced very limited tangible results and was mired in structural obstacles. The main impediments, especially at the operational level, were created by the standoff between Cyprus and Turkey over the unresolved conflict on Cyprus. Furthermore, there was a tendency on both sides to see the relationship between NATO and the CSDP in terms of competition – even as a zero-sum game – which obviously did not encourage cooperation.
Since its accession to the EU in 2004, Cyprus has stopped Turkey’s accession negotiations and blocked its participation in EU – led missions, its EDA membership and playing a more active role in CSDP. At the same time, Turkey has been able to block the use of NATO capabilities and assets by the EU and has not allowed the participation of Cyprus, which it does not recognize, at formal EU-NATO meetings. Hence, meetings between the North Atlantic Council and the Political and Security Committee (PSC) have been held rarely and with a narrow agenda.
The admission of a still divided Cyprus as an EU member stalled further NATO-EU relations. Turkey that had made of its involvement in ESDP operations a prerequisite to lift its veto encountered an increasingly rigid attitude of the EU every time it asked to take part in discussions or planning of EU missions. This deadlock practically turned the Berlin Plus arrangements into a dead letter and prevented more ambitious strategic cooperation. Berlin Plus arrangements have been used only for two operations: Operation Concordia in the Macedonia, which ended in September 2003, and EUFOR Operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an operation deployed since 2004.
The EU and the US take the current common threats very seriously, as defined in the both the European Union Security Strategy -ESS and the United States National Security Strategy –NSS. In order to cope with these common threats in a mutual strategy, closer EU–US cooperation—inside NATO—is needed. For this to evolve, the US must realise that the long-term increasing development and institutionalisation of the CSDP is not likely to cut increasingly across NATO interests. The Alliance traditionally had a commanding role and will continue to do so, as the emphasis of the CSDP is firmly on the Petersberg tasks so as to preserve the EU’s cultivated image as primarily a “civilian” power.
This emphasis raises the specter of a future Atlantic Alliance that is militarily unable to act together as an alliance, as opposed to one in which the US does the fighting and the EU keeps the post-war peace. Thus, the conclusion shapes up as follows: it is in the US’s interest for the EU to develop stronger military capabilities in order for a military burden-sharing to occur. Subsequently, CSDP–NATO cooperation—with no absolute division of labor between the two—is indeed in the Alliance’s and the world’s best interest.
EU military capabilities have been developed in a large extent but they are still not enough for an autonomous defence structure and it is clear that too far away from being able to substitute for NATO capabilities yet. In addition, it seems to be the case for the following few decades.
If European NATO allies are serious about the European integration process in regard to defence, and would like to address the challenge of US unilateralism—as they insist they would—then they should take a look at how they effectively can deal with the problem of their own military weaknesses. This unilateralism is inevitable only if the European allies cannot provide credible alternatives to the US’s military capabilities. Clearly, it is not the US’s responsibility if its European allies are not willing to spend more in equipping themselves militarily.
Although Turkey – Cyprus issue may have been the main outstanding obstacle in front of NATO-EU cooperation, there have been more serious problems hindering the cooperation. US unwillingness for formation of another organization that would surpass NATO, its desire for maintaining its influence on the Europe and European hegemon Nations’ unwillingness for accepting US domination on Europe may have been taken into consideration as other problems.
As it is clearly understood that both NATO and EU has to struggle with similar threats and EU will not be able to do this alone, both organizations have to find a common way of cooperation or something more than this. This cooperation would enable both organizations to use other’s capabilities more effectively such as soft power and military enforcement.
European Union and US are now both nearer to a position for settlement of closer cooperation. The Cyprus issue, although the current government of Turkey has a potential to make every kind of destruction for Europe, would be closer for agreement on a reciprocal and rational way.
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 V. Huseynov, Soft Power Geopolitics: How Does The Diminishing Utility Of Military Power Affect The Russia – West Confrontation Over The “Common Neighborhood”, Eastern Journal Of European Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, December 2016.
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 Huseynov, V.; Soft Power Geopolitics: How Does The Diminishing Utility Of Military Power Affect The Russia – West Confrontation Over The “Common Neighborhood”, Eastern Journal Of European Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, December 2016.
 Chausovsky, E.; On the Origins of a Conflict, retrieved from https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/origins-conflict, 2015.
 Kai O. Lang; EU and NATO Enlargement Policies ond Neighborhood Policy in the Light of the Ukraine Crisis, Strengthening The Regional Security . The Role of EU and NATO in the Wider Black Sea Area; International Conference, Edited by Y.Bozhilov, P.65, Sofia, September, 2015.
 NATO’s 1999 Strategic Concept, Article 21. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.nato.int/docu/ handbook/2001/hb0203.htm
 Koops, A.; The European Union as an Integrative Power?, p.81, Institute for European Studies – publication series, nr. 16, Brussels University Press, January 2011.
 Raik, Kristi; J. Pauli; New Era of EU-NATO Cooperation: How to Make the Best of a Marriage of Necessity; International Centre for Defence and Security Report, May 2017.
 Petersberg Declaration, Western European Union Council of Ministers, Bonn, 19 June 1992,
 Final Communique of the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Berlin, 3 June 1996.
 Dakic, Oliver. “The state of play of the EU-NATO partnership.” European Leadership Network, August, 2015.
 Engelen, Kurt, The Reunification of Cyprus and its Influence on NATO-EU Relations, Master Thesis, M.A. International Politics, June 2014.
 Petros, Demetriou ; NATO & CSDP: Can the EU afford to go solo?, Politics & International Relations Research Article, Cogent Social Sciences, April 2016.
 Demetriou, P., For a Credible CDSP, the EU Needs to Overcome Its Military Weakness, Europe’s World, December, 2015.