The CSDP in the Western Balkans

From experimental pilot to security governance

Authored by: Michael Merlingen


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

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


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In 1990 realist international relations scholar John Mearsheimer (1990) wrote about the impending return to instability and interstate competition in Europe. His prediction was prompted by the end of the Cold War, which he regarded as one of the pacifiers and stabilizers of the continent. In the absence of the bipolar divide, Europe was destined to return to its own past, which was characterized by competitive security policies in a multipolar regional order. The Western Balkans had for centuries been an important European arena in the international struggle for power. If the realist scenario had been right, the region would once again have become a source of geopolitical competition among major European and non-European powers. Yet history unfolded according to a different scenario. To make sense of it, this chapter draws on the concept of governance. Mearsheimer’s scenario is based on a view of states as sovereignty-bound actors which are primarily concerned about their military power. Governance scholars argue that the EU has partly transcended the sovereign state (Kirchner and Sperling, 2007; Sperling, 2009; Webber et al., 2004). It is in some sense a post-Westphalian community of action. Its internal relations are those of a mature security community in which war has become unthinkable. Its foreign policy in its neighbourhood is structural in orientation (Keukeleire, 2004). It is a long-term policy embedded in contractual relations and aimed at transforming conflict-prone and underdeveloped countries into well-governed market democracies. Brussels’ transformative diplomacy works by transferring EU rules and practices to target countries. This makes EU foreign policy a form of extra-territorial governance (Lavenex and Schimmelfennig, 2010; Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, 2004).

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