European Security Institutions 1945–2010

The weaknesses and strengths of ‘Brusselsization’

Authored by: Jolyon Howorth


Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415588287
eBook ISBN: 9780203098417
Adobe ISBN: 9781136226953


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A ‘security institution’ can be anything from a treaty-based alliance such as NATO to a small European Council Secretariat working-group such as the Committee on the Western Balkans (COWEB). Hundreds of such institutions contribute to the management of European security. The common feature behind all of them is their underlying purpose: cooperation in the field of security between sovereign member states and/or their agents. The underlying assumption is that each institution offers a positive-sum outcome. The post-World War II history of such institutions nevertheless reveals a tension between two contrasting approaches to security: Europeanist and Atlanticist; externalized and internalized (Cleveland, 1966; Schmidt, 2001). For the greater part of the Cold War period, Atlanticism and externalization held undisputed sway through NATO. However, prior to 1954 and since the mid-1980s, attempts to create internalized Europeanist institutions have competed with, while nevertheless simultaneously attempting to cooperate with, the NATO model. This double dichotomy was brought into focus as early as 11 November 1944 during a meeting in Paris between Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle suggested to Churchill that, whatever the differences in the wartime experiences of their two countries, when faced with the new reality of a bipolar world dominated by two superpowers, they henceforth shared objective strategic comparability, and probably identical interests. De Gaulle proposed a Franco-British security partnership – both to put Europe back on its feet and to help shape the contours of the emerging world order (de Gaulle, 1959: 63–4 and 367–78). Churchill listened attentively before informing de Gaulle that, unlike France, which effectively had only a European option, Great Britain also had an Atlantic option, from which the country fully intended to benefit (Churchill, 1954: 218–20). Thus were evoked, even before the war ended, the two dimensions of that double dichotomy which has divided European policy-makers ever since.

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