How much unity do you need? Systemic contestation in EU foreign and security cooperation

Maurer, Heidi and Wright, Nicholas ORCID: (2021) How much unity do you need? Systemic contestation in EU foreign and security cooperation. European Security, 30 (3). pp. 385-401. ISSN 1746-1545

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The Common Foreign & Security Policy (CFSP) is a transnational policy framework to deliver collective foreign policy and also to manage differences among member states. As such, it has always been dependent on their support. Since 2019, however, disagreement within this system is said to have reached a new level. Taking this political trend as our starting point, this article proposes a new, conceptual approach to understanding how contestation challenges the EU’s foreign policy cooperation system. While the majority of research focuses on disagreements in decision-making, we argue for a broader conceptualisation – systemic contestation. Drawing on norm contestation scholarship, we argue that systemic contestation manifests itself in two ways: as passive contestation, when member states disengage from and fail to take ownership of CFSP initiatives and their implementation; and as tacit contestation, when they fail to act when faced with the need to safeguard the system. This approach accounts for the transgovernmental character of the CFSP; and the central role of member states within it. Finally, we contend that our conceptualisation of systemic contestation offers promising new avenues for empirical research to understand the “black box” of EU foreign policy cooperation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Author Acknowledgements: Heidi Maurer has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie [grant agreement No. 840917]. We would like to express our thanks to the editors of this special issue for their constructive comments, advice and guidance as well as to the European Security editors and our anonymous reviewers for excellent constructive and encouraging comments. We also want to thank Wolfgang Wagner for the comments on our earlier work that inspired us to develop and write this paper. Thanks also goes to the participants of the COST workshop in Vienna in February 2020; of the NORTIA online seminar in July 2020; of the UACES virtual conference panel in September 2020; the EUIA online conference in May 2021 and the virtual ECPR Standing Group EU conference in June 2021; and in particular to Richard Whitman, Ben Tonra, Irena Kalhousova, Katja Biedenkopf, Cornelia Baciu, Ana Juncos, Karolina Pomorska, Marianne Riddervold and Wolfgang Wagner for their detailed feedback on earlier drafts.
Uncontrolled Keywords: cfsp,csdp,contestation,european foreign and security policy,norm contestation,political science and international relations ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3320
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2023 09:30
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2023 09:30
DOI: 10.1080/09662839.2021.1947800


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