Skip navigation

The European ­Union Should Stick to Its Peace-Orientation. By Christof Mandry

The changed security situation and the EU Global Strategy formulated in response to it have led to new initiatives in the particularly sovereignty-sensitive area of security and defense policy. Christof Mandry’s essay attempts an assessment of these developments that looks beyond overhasty euphoria or fundamental rejection.

Mandry’s analysis is based on a consideration of the EU as a community of values. This has firstly an internal impact: The commitment enshrined in the EU’s constitution and specific policy areas to human dignity, freedom, democracy and the rule of law is a lesson learned from the experience of two world wars in Europe. This idea has been successfully realized in a peaceful, democratic and social model of European society. In terms of the EU’s external relations, the values-orientation implies refraining from the direct exertion of power, and strengthening global peace and the rule of law. 

Mandry then examines the question of whether “greater coordination and cooperation, with operational strengthening [of the CSDP] through [...] PESCO” makes external action by the EU more consistent in keeping with such purposes – or whether it might lead the Union to act contrary to its values and pursue interest-driven policies, including by military means, under a cloak of humanitarianism. In fact, the author argues, this possibility cannot be totally dismissed, even if the current state of affairs offers little to support such scenarios. 

While Mandry does not in principle reject a CSDP that includes a military capacity to act, in his view this misses the mark for the EU as a “force for peace.” Instead of succumbing to the temptation of wanting to “create” peace through (military) intervention, it is essential firstly to revitalize the common value basis and oppose resurgent nationalism, authoritarianism and illiberalism by providing a “new plausibility” for the idea of European integration. Secondly, especially in view of the current crisis of multilateralism, it is important to support the maintenance and development of a “to some degree functional international framework”, which as far as possible allows conflicts to be resolved peacefully and with respect for human rights.

Read the full article