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What Kind of Power? EU Maritime Security Policies in the Face of Insecurity

Marianne Riddervold

The European Union (EU) is often described as a 'normative' or 'humanitarian' foreign policy power, due to its limited military capabilities and its focus on promoting norms rather than material interests. But what happens to EU foreign policy in a rapidly changing and more insecure geopolitical context? Today, the EU is faced with new security threats on a variety of fronts, ranging from increased Russian aggression, an explosion of immigrants due to conflicts in the EU's near abroad, to an increased fear of terrorist attacks on EU soil. Against this background, following much of the international relations and EU foreign policy literature, one would expect the EU's foreign and security policies to change: Rather than promoting norms, EU policies will be oriented towards increasing the member states' security, drawing on all means necessary. This paper explores the relevance of this hypothesis by a comparative study of three cases of EU maritime security policies: The EU's Maritime Security Strategy, EU Arctic policies and the EU's naval missions. Is the EU becoming a great maritime power in the realist sense, or can EU maritime security policies be characterized as 'humanitarian' even in the face of changing geopolitics?

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