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

Michael E. Smith

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) has become one of the most active EU policy domains in recent years, and has launched over 20 foreign operationssince 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 improvisationin this area. In addition, 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 itselfbut 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 termsof the various factors that determine whether organizations such as the EU can develop capacities for self-awareness and endogenous organizational change. To doso, 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 'comprehensiveapproach' 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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