The European Union's Approach to Deterrence

Niklas Novaky

Since 2003, the European Union (EU) has launched over 30 civilian and military operations in the framework of its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Some of them have relied, either explicitly or implicitly, on a deterrence strategy to fulfil their mandates. EUFOR Althea, for example, ensures a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina through a deterrence posture, while EUNAVFOR Atalanta aims to deter acts of piracy and armed robbery by operating ships around the Horn of Africa. Other CSDP operations have relied on an implicit deterrence strategy. EUFOR RD Congo, for example, was requested by the UN to ensure safety and security in the DRC during the 2006 Congolese elections. Furthermore, the EU sees that even civilian monitoring missions 'may be to contribute to "prevention/deterrence by presence"'. Thus, the EU assumes that its CSDP operations can have a deterrence effect.The existing literature makes occasional references to the alleged deterrence effect of CSDP operations; however, there have hitherto been no efforts to analyse it in detail or to determine whether it actually exists. This paper will provide the first systematic analysis of the deterrence effect of CSDP operations. It will use the qualitative method of structured, focused comparison to compare evidence from recent CSDP operations to determine; firstly, whether they have a meaningful deterrence effect; and secondly, whether the effectiveness of that effect varies from one operation to another. The paper will be divided into three sections. The first section explains what official EU documents and the existing literature say about the deterrence effect of CSDP operations. The second section discusses deterrence theory in International Relations (IR) and draws testable hypotheses about CSDP operations' ability to deter third-actors in their deployment areas. The third section compares empirical evidence from recent CSDP operations to test the hypotheses.

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