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Developing a 'Comprehensive Approach' to International Security: Institutional Learning and the European Security and Defence Policy

Michael E Smith

One of the most active EU policy domains is the ESDP, which has launched over 20 foreign operations since 2003. However, as the EU treaties are fairly limited in describing ESDP functionality, the EU has had to engage in a fairly high degree of institutional improvisation in this area. With these missions the EU has shown a growing capacity to innovate in security affairs, using a unique civilian crisis management (CCM) capacity linked to security sector reform and other EU policy tools. These changes demand further examination in light of not only the growing ambitions of the EU itself but also in terms of the increasing demands for security assistance placed on the UN, NATO, and the OSCE. This paper examines these processes, especially in terms of the various factors that determine whether organizations such as the EU can develop capacities for self-awareness and endogenous organizational change. To do so, the paper pays close attention to several key ESDP operations that involve a complex mix of civilian and military tools; this type of integrated or 'comprehensive approach' is rapidly becoming a hallmark of EU ESDP operations and may yield useful lessons for other attempts at crisis intervention and state-building.

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