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The Role of Member States in International Security Organisations: The Cases of EU and NATO

Nele Marianne Ewers-Peters

This paper seeks to address the role of member states in international security organisations, and more specifically in the realm of crisis management in the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). In the backdrop of current crises and conflicts in Europe's nearer neighbourhood the issue of member state behaviour in crisis decision-making has become even more crucial. Despite the increasing interests of academic scholars in crisis management and foreign policy-making on the European level, little attention has been paid to the key role that member states play in different international organisations with similar thematic and geographical scope (cf. Wessel 2011). Considering current conflicts such as in Syria and Ukraine, it has become lucid that neither the EU nor NATO can agree on launching a military crisis management operation in spite of calls from individual member states. One approach is to move forward the debate on EU-NATO conflict management cooperation by analysing the interactions between the two organisations on the member state level. Drawing on findings from the study of institutional complexes, institutional adaption and their division of labour (Gehring and Faude 2013) as well as of institutional interaction (Gehring and Oberthür 2009), this paper adds to the understanding of the role of member states in inter-organisation cooperation. It is thus argued that overlapping memberships contribute to the deepening of cooperation between the EU and NATO in the field of crisis and conflict management due to the overlap of military forces in theatre as well as of member state officials at the negotiation table. This paper therefore aims to contribute to the understanding of the role of member states and what means they have at their disposal to circumvent institutional constraints and incompatibility to continue institutional interactions between the EU and NATO.

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