CMV: The EU should not pursue any deeper integration but rather focus on preventing war in Europe

Sat Jul 21 2018 15:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


Boudewijn de Bruin

University of Groningen


link active when debate starts

Tutorial on how to join debates


Many people think that the EU has made war in Europe ‘unthinkable’. These commentators lack imagination and historical awareness (think the Balkan war) and/or unjustifiably consider the more privileged parts of Europe only. In fact, we have war in Europe at the moment (think Ukraine).
- The EU is not an end in itself, but was designed as a means to peace in Europe.
- Trying to prevent or resolve conflicts by appealing to deeply shared values has little to recommend itself. In fact, Europeans have very different social, cultural and political attitudes.
- A principled top-down harmonisation of these attitudes may well backfire and alienate European Nations from the European Project (think Brexit)
- Hence, we need a pragmatic approach, with less rather than more policy-making
- The EU should focus on preventing war among EU states, and preventing war with non-EU states. This requires integration of intelligence and defence with a clear common defence strategy.
- The EU should only include new states if this contributes to peace.

Background Information

  • One of the main objectives of the EU since its inception has been the prevention of armed conflict within the European continent and amongst member states. This commitment is constantly underlined by EU officials and in public communication documents: 

    • Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: “Promoting peace and guaranteeing the security of our citizens are our first priorities as European Union” 

  • With regards to the strengthening of security cooperation, the promotion of peace and stability and the potential initiation of a Joint European Military Force, the EU has taken a number of measures in the recent past, including: 

    • The initiation of “The EU Global Strategy” as outlined by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini in June 2016

    • The publication of the “Joint Communication on improving military mobility in the EU”

    • Communications on the creation of a European Defense Fund (COM/2017/0295)

  • ​With regards to the external security structure and the EUs global role in preventing conflict and fostering a peaceful neighborhood – while at the same time strengthening defense capabilities, EU-NATO cooperation has also taken center stage in policy talks and official EU documentation:

    • ​The role of NATO in the security architecture of the EU European Parliament resolution of 19 February 2009 on the role of NATO in the security architecture of the EU (2008/2197(INI))

    • European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2013 on EU’s military structures: state of play and future prospects (2012/2319(INI))

Read more

Implementation Plan on Security and Defense

Legislative Train Schedule for the EU as a Stronger Global Actor with the EU.”

Debate Summary


OVERVIEW: Some discussants raised the question if the proposed action is really the best option to achieve the desired effect. (Briefly: A shared economic might just be enough to deal with differences in values and attitudes.) Others claimed that other actions (leading to other effects) would better promote the declared goal. (The argument: Strengthening citizens’ adherence to the EU will finally also promote peace within Europe.) One contributor feared that taking actions to promote the declared goal would lead to conflicts with other, equally important goals: Financial sacrifices necessary to build up a common intelligence force might turn citizens away from the EU. A minor thread to the discussion dealt with the issue of how military integration should be approached (“conscription”).


#Proposed actions does not support desired effect/alternative actions do better support desired effect

One comment seems to suggest that alternative paths of actions are more attractive – especially economic policy (i.e., the status quo): “The EU helps prevent war because it offers a unified economic zone, relatively open borders, shared currency, shared supranational legislative and executive bodies, and shared collective defense agreements.”
Similar: Another comments thinks that the proposed action is not necessary, because shared values do prevent war (contrary to what the author claims). “Close cultural, economic, and military ties produce strong relationships to where the use of force (war) to enact policy on another state isn't worth it.”

#Alternative actions do better support the declared goal

Integregration in the sense of making the EU larger, one contributor holds, would serve the declared goal even better: “The integration of more European nations would only lead to a more peaceful Europe. If Ukraine was a member of the EU there is no way that Russia could have invaded its eastern regions.”
One suggestion: Improve the PR department, ie educate the general population where life is better due to EU regulations” in order to strengthen the EU as an instrument which, among other things, secures peace. Plus: “Add a EU law enforcement agency” and “Install an EU level financial system including a tax system.”

#Conflict with other goals

The sacrifices necessary to further military integration could turn citizens away from the EU, one contributor fears: “wonder whether there is a tension between increasing military strength (which you say will help keep the peace) and implementing policies that will prevent Europeans from rejecting the eu, if increased military spending will be in any way associated with the EU.”

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive reminders of upcoming debates