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Evolution through Learning? The Emergence of Security Sector Reform (SSR) in European Security Cooperation

Giovanni Faleg

The many challenges of contemporary world create situations of uncertainty. In a wide range of policy areas, knowledge, broadly defined as ideas, information, expertiseand understanding about a subject, of the issues and problems concerning these areas is thus required by policy-makers in order to take decisions. An extensiveliterature has demonstrated that knowledge serves as a key driver leading to institutional or policy change as learning. New consensual knowledge affecting security institutions' policies and structures originates essentially from three sources: innovation, experience and imitation. This paper investigates the paths by which learning byinnovation and by experience occurs in European security cooperation and fosters institutional, policy or operational learning. More specifically, the paper analyzes therole of knowledge-based networks, or epistemic communities, in diffusing innovation within the European Union's common security and defence policy, and assessesthe mechanisms through which experiential learning, that is, change driven by the lessons learned from the EU's operational experience, takes place. From an empiricalstandpoint, the paper focuses on the rise and evolution of the EU's comprehensive approach to security. In particular, it looks at the role of transnational epistemiccommunities in influencing the introduction of Security Sector Reform (SSR) policies and practices within the European Union, and then analyzes processes ofinstitutional reform and policy or operational change resulting from processes of learning by doing from selected SSR-related missions.

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