An empirical assessment of the constructivist approach applied to the common foreign and security policy

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  • Publié le : 25 mars 2011
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|Theories of European Integration and their Application |
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|An empirical assessment of the Constructivist approach applied to the Common Foreign and |
|Security Policy || |
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Until recently, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) had strictly been dealt with by realists. Their analysis was based on the idea that the development of a political co-operation would necessarily be blocked by member states’ interests. This blocking would be provokedby state actors afraid of a loss of sovereignty in the high politics area. Facing the undeniable development of this political co-operation that started with the European Political Cooperation (EPC) and led to the CFSP, the realist theory is weak. To explain policies’ emergence, they state that these are the result of a convergence of member states’ interests but they remain powerless when it comesto explain how these multiple interests converged.
This is only with the recent development of the constructivist current that the debate concerning the question of the “how” and the “why” of the political cooperation get diversified. However, the constructivist current remains fragmented. As Smith says,”there is no one social constructivism, instead there are many”[1]. The notion ofconstructivism indeed corresponds to many conceptions and lacks in cohesion. That is why Smith and, more generally, the scientist community agree on the point that “social constructivism is more of an approach than a theory”.[2] The fact that the current literature is more united on what is being rejected than on what is being proposed speaks for itself. Nonetheless, some assumptions gather these differentconceptions under the federative label of “constructivism”. Wendt identifies two fundamental ideas of the constructivist approach[3]. First, the constructivist approach assumes that the structures of international life are primarily ideational and not exclusively material. Second, they postulate that intersubjective shared meanings between state actors decisively determine identities and interestsin the international system. Consequently, actors will perceive their interests in a different manner and logically bring their political behavior in line with these perceived interests. As a consequence of this dynamic, the final result of European integration is likely to change. These postulates applied to the political cooperation and particularly to the CFSP lead to consider it as asocial-constructed object whose important historical junctures would not be the simple product of national interests but the results of a context of intersubjective structures created by diplomatic communication. From this idea results the constructivist claim that, contrary to the realist postulate, integration indeed occurred in the field of political co-operation stemming from these communicationprocesses that the institutions of EPC and, afterwards, CFSP have allowed.
Thus, we will proceed to an empirical assessment of the constructivist justification of the development of the political cooperation among EU member states. First we will see that if a constructivist perspective is able to explain the previous failures to the EPC, it is nonetheless unable to explain its birth (I). Then, we...
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