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The EU and a 'Better World': What Role for the European Security and Defence Policy?

Alyson J. K. Bailes
International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-)
Vol. 84, No. 1, Ethical Power Europe? (Jan., 2008), pp. 115-130
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25144718
Page Count: 16
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The EU and a 'Better World': What Role for the European Security and Defence Policy?
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Abstract

If it is assumed that military action can be ethical, the precise ethical tests attached to it have shifted in the post-Cold War period towards questions about intervention, for example justification and legal basis, proportionality and efficiency. The EU's Helsinki Headline Goals of December 1999 framed its future military policy exclusively in terms of 'altruistic' crisis management and the conduct of specific European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) missions has not yet led to moral (or any other) censure. However, there are grounds to suggest that the EU's members have knowingly reserved this institution for the 'cleanest' tasks and selected these on grounds of, inter alia, limited practical and ethical hazard rather than absolute humanitarian urgency. The EU remains a free-rider in terms of Europe's own self-defence which is not, per se, a noble posture. In the last analysis, the EU is caught between 'doing good'-an altruism that prevails in its military policy but hardly in its use of 'softer' instruments like trade and migration control-and 'being good', which implies more leeway to act tough to protect its own superior existence. Similar ethical contradictions can be observed not just in the planned scope and guidelines of ESDP, but also in the more aggressive and punitive features of EU internal security policies-in the EU's greater enthusiasm for collaboration on producing arms than for finding ways to control armaments especially within Europe; and in the very weak record of democratic control and public accountability associated with the ESDP itself.

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