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6.3 Program for the Study of Germany and Europe

Europe as International Actor: Maximizing Nation-State Sovereignty

1996 – Laurents Goetschel


The continually increasing literature on foreign- and security-policy dimensions of the European Union (EU) has provided no remedy for the widespread helplessness in gaining a purchase on Europe as an international actor. The basic hindrance to understanding this policy comes from an all-too-literal interpretation of the acronym involved: the CFSP is understood as a total or partial replacement of the nation-states' foreign and security policy. This article aims to point the way to a new understanding of the CFSP in which this policy is not based on the integration of nation­ state foreign and security policy. I suggest that the proper way to grasp the phenomenon of the CFSP is to describe it as an international regime whose goal is to administer links between economic integration and foreign- and security­ policy cooperation in the sense of maximizing the sovereignty of member states. This requires, on the one hand, the prevention of "spillovers" from the economic area that could interfere with the foreign- and security-policy indepen­ dence of member states. On the other hand, it demands applying the EU's economic potential to reinforce the foreign- and security-policy range of member states. Due to the logic of this policy, CFSP priorities and fields of ac­ tion differ profoundly from those of a national foreign and security policy. Expectations on the evolution of the CFSP must be aware of these basic characteristics of this policy.