View All

The EU and NATO: Competition or Complementarity?

Sophie Vanhoonacker, Simon Duke

Both NATO and the EU play a crucial role in the security and stability of the European continent, but they do so in a radically different way. While the former was from its early start set up as a collective defence organisation linking both sides of the Atlantic, the latter primarily contributed to stability through a process of social and economic integration. With the end of the cold war NATO has enhanced its focus on a wider range of security challenges while the EU has also developed a broad security mandate. This also led to the first tentative interaction between the two organisations. This contribution argues that the different historical pathways, whereby NATO focused on military security and EU external action prioritised trade and development, are reflected in the strategic outlook of both organisations. The multifarious security challenges facing both organisations also suggest that there is increasing overlap in terms of strategic outlook. NATO's New Strategic Concept (2010) and the European Security Strategy (2003 and 2008) are broad in scope with the former increasingly addressing 'Article IV' contingencies, while the latter aims to join together its response to situations of fragility, security and development in a more comprehensive manner. Having said this, there are also significant differences emanating from the different historical pathways of the two organisations and barriers within each organisation to further strategic development. Both organisations, but most notably the EU, also face the issue of 'meta-strategy' or the context within which security strategies are developed and implemented.This paper starts by contrasting the security strategies of the EU and NATO. It identifies areas of actual or potential complementarity, as well as differences, with special attention to the institutional consequences of the respective approaches. Secondly, it maps the cooperation between the two players as it has developed since the end of the cold war, focusing on the institutional bridges and challenges. The final section examines the implications of the existence of parallel security strategies on the European continent and the potential for more cohesive strategy.

The abstracts and papers on this website reflect the views and opinions of the author(s). UACES cannot be held responsible for the opinions of others. Conference papers are works-in-progress - they should not be cited without the author's permission.