European Defence Policy: Westphalian or Post-Westphalian Model?


6 December 2022

European defence policy

Westphalian or post-Westphalian model?

"In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia gave birth to a system based on the nation-state, in which "the state, not the empire, the dynasty or the religious denomination, was affirmed as the constituent element of the European order".

The concept of the Westphalian model is still widely used as a reference in political science in the Germanic and Nordic countries, much less so in France where the nation-state model is considered a taboo that would be eternal and could not be questioned. However, it only appeared in the seventeenth century and for much longer other forms of organisation have been in use or called for, as Victor Hugo did in his famous speech in 1848 on "the United States of Europe".

The end of the Second World War saw the emergence, thanks to the genius of the Founding Fathers, and in particular to the pragmatism and vision of Jean Monnet, of another model based on "de facto solidarities" and the "common good" which goes beyond the Westphalian model by establishing communities of peoples, admittedly circumscribed in very concrete areas such as coal and steel, atomic energy, the common market, agricultural policy, etc. Jean Monnet's communities go beyond the Westphalian model of nation states that can form alliances with each other. For the first time, Europe is experiencing a new form of organisation uniting peoples from different nations in a voluntary and democratic way! This is what Barbara Matta, a Master's student at the Italian University of Bologna, calls a "post-Westphalian" model

Russia's aggression against Ukraine on 24 February 2022 cruelly exposed the weakness of European construction in military matters, handicapped by the failure in 1954 before the French National Assembly of the European Defence Community project, supported in particular by Jean Monnet. NATO appears very clearly as the only European defence organisation, as the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin recently said: "Europe is not strong enough".
Since 1954, there have been several attempts to create a European defence system, generally on an intergovernmental basis, and with the Treaty of Lisbon, the Common European Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) was created, which is still subject to the rule of unanimity among the Member States and to the sole initiative of the Member States. It is therefore still a "Westphalian" instrument, even if the European Parliament is consulted and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is directly involved.

The Jean Monnet Association is very grateful to Ms Matta for demonstrating in her article the limits of the Westphalian model (we would say the intergovernmental Jean Monnet Association) and calling for the study of a community or "post-Westphalian" model (we would say the "Monnet" method) so that the European Union can finally equip itself with a common defence policy commensurate with the perils and challenges of today. The conference on the 20th will enable us to set out the problems and possible milestones.

Henri Malosse

Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jean Monnet Association

The post-Westphalian European Union trapped in the Westphalian pan-European space


Master in international and diplomatic sciences at the University of Bologna, Italy

Barbara MATTA

Barbara MATTA

for the Jean Monnet Association


"World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which that threaten it.[1]

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the process of European integration marked a major turning point both in the history of Europeans and in the comprhension of security. Shared misery and hardship, and the common sense of responsibility towards the War that physically and psychologically burned the continent, suddenly triggered a cathartic process of pacification.[2] War, a traditional instrument of national politicy, was not acceptable anymore. Through a common process of securitisation, war and nationalism became the new existential threats to the very survival of European civilisation.
Indeed, "in its earliest manifestation, the European project was explicitly a security project".[3] A project intended to build peace by replacing power politics with international cooperation and governance. The Schuman Declaration (1950) and the Treaty of Paris (1952) introduced post-Westphalian narratives and practices that led to the end of the cross-border dispute between France and Germany, the dismantlement of the sovereign nation state-based system and the development of a new European identity.
Moreover, the integration process solved tensions between European states andgave rise to a security community, an space where 'conflicts are resolved by peaceful means'.[4] Although the European project marked the first step towards a new post-Westphalian order and showed realist scholars that regimes solve systemic anarchy, in reality, the European Community, and later the Union, has struggled to assert itself and act as a security actor. This article will show and analyse the reasons for European inhibition in the security arena. It will argue that the European Self, i.e. the post-Westphalian identity of the EU, is threatened by three Westphalian forces, namely the Member States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and traditional threats.
These forces generate an environment hostile to the development of the post-Westphalian project, make the EU ontologically insecure and hamper its attempts to act as a security actor.

First, the article will elucidate the difference between the Westphalian and post-Westphalian order by reconstructing the evolution of the European system. The second paragraph will analyse the historical development of the European foreign dimension, showing why the European idea was, from the beginning, a grand security strategy in its own right.

Finally, it will present two fundamental theoretical assumptions necessary to understand the direction of this analysis. The next three paragraphs set out the central argument, focusing respectively on the Westphalian nature of states, NATO and traditional threats. Finally, in an attempt to apply the Jean Monnet Community method, the paper will speculate on potential ways in which the EU could strengthen its role as a security actor while renewing and preserving the post-Westphalian impulse.

From 'Hobbesian world' to Kantian peace

In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia gave rise to a system based on the nation-state, in which "the state, and not the empire, the dynasty or the religious denomination, was affirmed as the constitutive element of the European order"[5]. The Westphalian state has been commonly defined in academic literature as a sovereign nation-state with a monopoly of force over a recognised territory. Through the Westphalian settlement, states agreed to recognise the legitimacy and independence of others and became international citizens responsible for their politics, religion and culture[6].6 Three years spent contemplating the new European system led Thomas Hobbes to publish Leviathan in 1651. According to the precursor of the realist tradition of international relations, with the creation of the Westphalian state, human beings had definitively left the 'state of nature', characterised by the perpetual condition of 'war of all against all', to become citizens of Leviathan.

Although the monopoly of force allowed Leviathan to overcome the fear of violent death and war within national borders, the governing principle in the international arena remained anarchy. The absence of a supranational force with a monopoly on international power made war not only inevitable, but also necessary to preserve state sovereignty. Indeed, according to Henry Kissinger, "the Peace of Westphalia, in its initial practice, implemented a Hobbesian world"[7].
In the early 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau introduced the idea that European states could overcome anarchy by creating a united republican Europe. This idea was later taken up and developed by Immanuel Kant in Towards Perpetual Peace. In his philosophical pamphlet, Kant advocated the constitution of a European federation of republican states as the result of a process of gradual pacification[8]. He saw the federation of free states and the abolition of standing armies as necessary steps to ensure the end of all hostilities. The Enlightenment philosopher envisaged the development of the first post-Westphalian system, governed by cosmopolitan law and driven by the spirit of commerce[9].
The idea of perpetual peace remained confined for another century, struggling to survive accusations of utopianism. However, after the end of the First World War, the fear that the "continent would be torn apart by nationalistic infighting" led many intellectuals and politicians to re-evaluate the "European idea".[10]. In this context, Aristide Briand in France, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi in Austria and Lord Lothian in Great Britain transformed Kant's ideas into a political project, laying the foundations for the European federalist movement.
While on the one hand the Second World War hindered and delayed the advancement of the European project, on the other hand it strengthened the federalist movement and made it imperative for European countries to escape from the 'state-centred, sovereignty-oriented and territorially delimited' order and to design a new post-Westphalian European system[11].

Altiero Spinelli, one of the leading theorists of European federalism, saw the sovereign nation state as the greatest threat to European peace and security. Nation-states are naturally inclined to expand their borders in order to legitimise their power and strengthen their position on the international scene. Since a state can only achieve this goal by engaging in war against other countries, the very existence of the nation-state is in itself a source of instability[12]. It was the desire to make war between France and Germany "not only unthinkable, but materially impossible" that led Jean Monnet to conceive the first European Community. The Treaty of Paris, which gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, marked the first stage in the process of European integration and the dismantling of the Westphalian system. The six founding European countries voluntarily decided to limit their sovereignty and transfer some of their power to a new supranational High Authority[13]. They replace war with instruments of soft power and neutralise anarchy with multi-level governance.


The historical development of the European foreign dimension

Before Maastricht

According to several scholars, the treaty to establish the European Defence Community (EDC) can be seen as the first concrete attempt to develop the European foreign dimension. This article disagrees with this argument and takes a different perspective. The supranational pooling of Franco-German coal and steel production with the creation of the ECSC was more than an economic agreement. It represented an opportunity to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and to build a new future. When Jean Monnet first imagined the Schuman Plan, he wrote in a personal note that before European governments could even talk about post-war reconstruction and the future of Europe, they had to tackle the problem of the war[14].

The outbreak of total war, only twenty years after the carnage of the First World War, finally demonstrated that a traditional peace treaty was not enough to preserve peace. The search for an alternative solution led Jean Monnet to make the impossible possible, to find an instrument that could resolve international tension without engaging in a new war. The ECSC was that solution. The instrument was economic in nature, but the interests and expectations underlying its realisation were political and strategic.
It was too early for a political union, but the time had come to start a gradual process of integration based on trust, solidarity and strong interdependencies.
In all European countries, the fear of a new war was stronger than the anarchy.
It triggered centripetal forces that made cooperation and peaceful dialogue between rival powers possible. Furthermore, the process of decolonisation and the emergence of the two superpowers left the European nation-states in a very vulnerable position on the international scene. Therefore, it can be argued that the ECSC created a European foreign dimension in two parallel ways. First, it made war materially impossible in Western Europe by neutralising any traditional threat from within. For example, since a potential threat could only come from outside the European security community and the security of one member began to depend on that of the others, it became more appropriate to speak of European rather than national security and defence. Secondly, the ECSC allowed the European powers to strengthen each other by presenting themselves united on the international stage. In parallel to the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Paris, the six founding countries were discussing the creation of an integrated European army as a solution to allow the controlled rearmament of West Germany and to strengthen the Atlantic Pact. The proposal came with the Pleven Plan, presented in 1950 by the French Prime Minister. After only two years of negotiations, the treaty establishing the European Defence Community was signed by France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries. From the German point of view, the integration process was aimed at absorbing state sovereignty in the defence sector, and for the Italians it was an opportunity to establish a supranational political community.

However, at the end of 1954, the French Assembly refused to ratify the treaty, thus putting an end to the creation of a political union and the strengthening of the foreign and defence dimension.
Out of the ashes of the EDC, the Western European Union (WEU) was born as an alternative, less ambitious solution to enable the rearmament of West Germany within a multilateral European framework. Far from arguing that the attempt to create the EDC was not an important step, its failure and the results that followed can be seen more as a spin-off than a spillover of the integration process. If, on the one hand, the ECSC planted the seeds for the development of the European foreign dimension, on the other hand, the failure of the EDC highlighted the inability of the Internal Six to go beyond Westphalia.

The tension between Westphalia and post-Westphalia can also be seen in the collision between intergovernmental and supranational positions, which led to the failure of the second attempt to develop political cooperation and strengthen the common security of the Member States[15].

The Fouchet plans presented in the early 1960s reflected General Charles de Gaulle's desire to create a 'Europe of the nations'. The French President put forward the project of an intergovernmental political union, in which nation states retained their full sovereignty and adopted their decisions unanimously. According to Moravcsik, the General's philosophy "is based on three fundamental ideas: nationalism, independence and military force".[16].
For de Gaulle, in fact, "the only possible Europe... is that of the States".[17]. The nation-state capable of "counting in world affairs and having the means to defend itself in the merciless struggle between nations".[18]. The Fouchet plans represented a dangerous attempt to erase the concrete sui generis achievements that made perpetual peace possible in Western Europe and to return to the world of geopolitics and realism where war was inevitable. To avoid the nationalist trap, France's five partners rejected both plans and presented an alternative treaty.

The Union wanted by West Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries recalls the European federation promised by Monnet and Schuman. Among other things, they called for strong supranational institutions, a common foreign and defence policy "within the framework of the Atlantic Alliance", and "the gradual introduction of the principle of majority voting in Council decisions".[19].
After long negotiations and several attempts at compromise, de Gaulle rejected the proposal of his partners, denouncing the failure of political Europe[20]. Later, in his memoirs, Monnet asks:

"Why did France try to bring back into an intergovernmental framework what had already become a community one?

For the father of the ECSC, the post-modern project of European integration was not about forming "coalitions between states, but a union between peoples".[21].


Since the creation of the ECSC, NATO has retained primary responsibility for the defence of Western Europe. The failure of the Fouchet plans in 1963 silenced the debate on European security and defence, and for the next thirty years the integration process was limited to low-level political areas. However, it is important to emphasise that during these years the European Economic Community developed its foreign dimension, exerting its influence internationally and acting as a civil, normative and structural power.
The European Community has become one of the world's major economic players, capable of expanding peacefully without provoking war and influencing the actions of other international players. However, it was only with the end of the Cold War that the Member States revived the debate on security and defence.

The Maastricht Treaty, signed on 7 February 1992, gave birth to the Union and established, in its second pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). However, far from the initial expectations, this policy was "not so common", since the Treaty does not refer to common instruments, actors and budget[22]. Rather, it is an intergovernmental policy which "does not affect the existing legal basis, responsibilities and powers of each Member State in relation to the formulation and conduct of its foreign policy[23]. Furthermore, the only legally binding instruments, namely decisions taken by the European Council defining actions (Article 28 TEU) and positions
(Article 29 TEU), are limited to exceptional cases and are not subject to judicial review by the Court of Justice. The same considerations can be made with regard to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), formally formalised by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007. According to the Franco-British declaration of Saint-Malo (1998), it was imperative for the European Union to develop "an autonomous capacity for action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them and the will to do so, in order to respond to international crises"[24].
Although Stephan Keukeleire and Tom Delreux are right when they say that CSDP is far from being "common" and about "defence", the policy has introduced two important clauses that have considerably strengthened the European security dimension. The first is the mutual defence clause (Article 42.7 TEU), which states that :

"In the case of an armed attack on its territory, the other Member States have an obligation to help and assist by all means in their power.

The second is the solidarity clause (Article 222 TFEU), under which :

"the Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster[25].

Since 2003, when the EU launched its first missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost 40 operations have been conducted under the European flag. However, both the effectiveness and the added value of CSDP military and civilian operations have been questioned.
Several researchers point to the difficulties the EU faces in strengthening its strategic autonomy, while others highlight its limited operational capabilities.
Despite the inconsistencies of treaties and the questionable success of policies, the EU today sends and receives diplomatic representatives, concludes international agreements, is a major international donor of development cooperation and has a stabilising effect at the international level. Furthermore, according to Sperling, two security strategies have helped define the 'grand security strategy for post-Westphalian governance'.
The External Security Strategy (ESS), launched by Javier Solana in December 2003, introduced the principles of effective multilateralism and preventive engagement[26]. The second is Federica Mogherini's 2016 EU Global Strategy (EUGS), which stresses the importance of
 to "take collective responsibility" for Europe's role in the world and to recognise the principle of the indivisibility of security[27]. In the following paragraphs, this article seeks to understand whether and to what extent the CFSP and CSDP reflect the post-Westphalian European nature and why the EU is struggling to act as a security actor.

Two basic assumptions

In order to understand the following analysis, two basic assumptions must be made. First, a broader understanding of the concept of security, as suggested by Buzan in People, State and Fear, which considers, in addition to the military aspects, the environmental, economic, societal and political aspects of security[28]. Secondly, the recognition of the fact of the sui generis nature of the EU and the existence of a European foreign dimension independent of its Member States.

Beyond military security

The development of the field of security studies that occurred in 1983 with the publication of Barry Buzan's book is the key to understanding the peculiarity of European foreign policy. Since the early 1950s, the concept of security had been primarily linked to what students called the four Ss: state, strategy, science and status quo.
States were both the agents and referent objects of security; the use of military force was the only instrument to counter potential threats; quantifiable variables and scientific theories could, to some extent, rationalise the fog of war; and since revolutionary change could mean a loss of power, the 'telos' was always the preservation of the status quo. In 'People, State and Fear', Buzan questioned the validity of the four Ss. He argued that the military or strategic aspect of war is not sufficient. He argued that the military or strategic dimension is only one of five sectors included in the large container of security studies. He identified new referent objects, including human beings, the environment, society and the economy, and new security agents, such as international organisations and NGOs. His work triggered the expansion of the concept of security. A much more complex concept has emerged, combining military, economic, political, societal and environmental dimensions and able to capture the complexity of the globalised world. Without this concept, it is impossible to consider the European Community as a security agent in its own right. Indeed, from the outset, the Community has dealt with social, economic, political and environmental security issues without ever interfering in the national military dimension. In particular, from a societal point of view, the European Community, and later the Union, gradually built trust and solidarity, provided common rules to protect social security rights and launched strategies to promote social resilience. The high level of integration in the economic dimension has enabled the European Community to lead the post-war reconstruction and economic recovery of the Member States. In addition, the Community has exclusive competence in trade policy, which makes it fully responsible for the trade security of its members. The Community guarantees political security, requiring legitimate democratic institutions as a necessary condition for being part of the European family. Both the Willi Birkelbach report, adopted by the European Parliamentary Assembly in 1962, and the Copenhagen criteria (1993) condemn political instability, corruption and illiberal regimes that could jeopardise the Community's democratic peace and stability[29][30]. Finally, since the first Environmental Action Programme in 1973, the Community has progressively strengthened its commitment to reducing emissions and preserving the environment, thus taking the lead in the global fight against climate change[31].
As the military sector has never been fully integrated and included in the European security and foreign dimension and has remained a competence of national authorities, many academics and policy-makers do not recognise the EU as a fully-fledged security actor. However, this reasoning should also apply to states. Because states have decided to transfer part of their power to the European level, making the Community responsible for economic, social, political and environmental problems, they are not able to fully ensure security in these areas.
At this point, it should be noted that nation-states decided to limit their power because they realised that they could not survive alone in a globalised world. So why has the military sector remained in the hands of nation states? There are two main explanations. First, the economic crisis and food shortages that followed the end of World War II forced states to pool their resources and work together to address social, political and economic problems.
Secondly, military force is a defining element of the nation state. Therefore, the transfer of military power to a supranational authority has been perceived by states as a loss of their raison d'être on the international scene.
In summary, the European Community developed from the outset as a sui generis security actor, integrating all the security sectors identified by Buzan, with the exception of the military sector, which remained in the hands of its Member States.

A sui generis security project

The European security system is a security governance system. According to Max Webber, "security governance is something more than simply repackaging traditional forms of security management".[32]. It is, in fact, a "signifier of change".[33]. The proliferation of insecurity resulting from the two waves of globalisation and the increasing level of interconnectedness have triggered a process of profound transformation that has gradually changed the nature of global politics. The erosion of state territorial borders and the compression of time and space through the lowering of the costs of movement of goods and ideas have provided fertile ground for the emergence of new threats (pandemics, terrorism, transnational crime, etc.) and new agents of insecurity (terrorist networks, hackers, biological viruses, etc.). Because these new challenges are transnational in nature and unpredictable, states alone lack the capacity and means to defend themselves and fall into a state of permanent anxiety. Therefore, in an attempt to offset their vulnerability and enhance their security, states cooperate and coordinate their actions, resulting in a system of international governance. In a system of governance, states are not the only actors involved in the decision-making process. They cooperate with non-state actors, including think tanks, stakeholders, NGOs and businesses, who are actively involved in "consolidating a collective definition of interest and threat".[34].

The European security system is the best existing example of security governance.
It is "neither a political system nor an international organisation, but something in between".[35]. Decisions are the result of a governance-type decision-making system, which is multifaceted, multi-actor, multi-method and multi-level[36]. Thus, the resulting policies cannot be seen as the mere result of a decision-making process.

According to Keukeleire and Delreux, European foreign policy is 'multifaceted' because it has four faces, CFSP, CSDP, external action and the external dimension of policies
It is 'multi-method', as both the intergovernmental and the EU method are used; 'multi-level', as it reflects the connection and interaction of multiple levels of governance and policy arenas. Thus, the resulting policies cannot be seen as the simple sum of state positions. They reflect the complex and unpredictable world, where different ideas, agendas and interests meet and merge to such an extent that it becomes difficult to isolate and recognise the position of a single actor. In short, European foreign policy is the sum of all the political actions and decisions that external and internal actors commonly recognise as European actions and decisions and, therefore, it is the result of the European system of governance.


The Westphalian nature of the Member States

According to Sperling (2008), the development of the post-Westphalian European project has resulted in the emergence of post-Westphalian states, which are distinguished from Westphalian states by the lack of capacity to control and protect national borders[37]. This analysis distances itself from Sperling's assertion and argues that, although the member states were deeply affected by the process of European integration, they never turned into post-Westphalian states, as they managed to preserve the monopoly of force and the ability to control national borders. Therefore, the post-Westphalian evolution of Europe changed the nature of the European system from a state-centred system to a 'civil order based on rules and norms', while the nature of its Member States remained essentially Westphalian[38]. However, it can be argued that the changing international environment, where new actors and threats have emerged, and the paradigm shift at the European level have undermined not the ability but the capacity of Member States to protect their territoriality. In the face of non-traditional threats, including terrorist and cyber attacks, or the use of weapons of mass destruction, which fall under what Lind and Thiele call the fourth generation of warfare, Westphalian states lack the capacity and means to respond. They continue to respond with traditional means of power and thus prevent the EU from acting as a post-Westphalian security actor.

An empirical case study, in which the conflict between the Westphalian and post-Westphalian natures of the European space emerges, can be found in the European response to the migration crisis. Migration, considered in the post-Westphalian narrative as one of the four freedoms of the European common market, was first addressed as a crisis when, in 2015, more than one million people fled the war in Syria[39].
According to Jennifer Mitzen (2018), the stratification of post-Westphalian narratives and practices originally conceived of the European Union as a Homespace, i.e. a space where borders are porous and treated as permeable. Similarly, in describing the founding narrative of the EU, Vincent Della Sala states that it was 'territory agnostic'[40]. Indeed, what the founding fathers had in mind from the outset was the creation of a common area without internal borders and "open to all countries wishing to take part" in the integration process[41].
The external borders were therefore not fixed and could change through the policy of enlargement, which was seen as a reunification between countries sharing the same principles and values. The concept of 'Homespace' differs from that of Homeland, the latter being conceived as a 'delimited container of the collective self'.[42]. Mitzen argues that the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and, in particular, the home affairs and justice pillar, undermined the post-Westphalian project by reinforcing the intergovernmental character of the integration process and institutionalising narratives that describe the Union more as a homeland than as a living space. As the influx of migrants increased, Member States felt their 'shell' threatened and demonstrated their capacity to strengthen and 'protect' their territory[43]. By reintroducing border controls, Member States have undermined the porosity of the European living space and attacked the post-Westphalian narrative. In the first instance, they did not cooperate with each other and did not give the European institutions the opportunity to deal with this difficult situation.
In order to at least save the Schengen area, the European Commission has undertaken a process of securitisation, publishing the document "Back to Schengen" (2016)[44]. However, the process of securitisation, which Mitzen calls 'territorialisation', introduces neo-Westphalian narratives that have weakened the European Self from within. This does not necessarily mean that the European Union has turned into a Homeland, although if on a scale of black to white, Westphalian is black and post-Westphalian is white, due to the refugee crisis the EU has turned from a light to a dark grey. Constrained by this internal force, represented by the European member states, the EU has been forced to adapt, becoming more Westphalian, in order to survive.


The Westphalian nature of NATO

The second Westphalian force that prevents the EU from acting as a post-Westphalian security actor is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. NATO is first and foremost a military alliance. It was created in 1949 as the operational and military arm of the Atlantic Alliance, and quickly became the "watchdog" of the United States during the Cold War[45] [46]. The first concrete step in the process of European integration was marked in 1952 by the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
It can therefore be said that these two security communities have in common that they were born and developed in the Western liberal order in the historical context of the Cold War.
However, whereas the ECSC was intended to end war on the European continent once and for all by peaceful means, NATO was designed to wage a new war. According to Sperling, "there are two competing and overlapping forms of European security governance: the post-Westphalian security community institutionalised in the EU; a collective defence arrangement underpinning a Westphalian security community institutionalised in NATO"[47]. The fact that most NATO members are also EU countries is an important factor.

The existence of NATO within the European Union reveals the complexity of European security governance and confirms what has already been stated above regarding the Westphalian nature of European member states. Thus, the very existence of NATO demonstrates that outside the process of European integration, the pan-European space has remained predominantly Westphalian.

During the ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, NATO's mandate was primarily focused on defence and deterrence. When the Cold War ended, NATO had to reinvent itself and adapt. As Thierry Tardy argues, NATO went through both an existential crisis and a management crisis. An existential crisis because, with the dissolution of the USSR, NATO lost its objective of defending the West against a perceived external threat. A management crisis because its basic narratives and practices, which revolved around defence and deterrence, had no reason to be implemented in the post-Cold War environment[48].
Indeed, NATO has introduced the paradigm of crisis management and capacity building into its agenda and has adopted a multi-faceted nature, characterised by the coexistence of the firefighter (the crisis management force), the neighbour (the defender of the democratic peace discourse) and the seminar leader (the guardian of the transatlantic partnership), as well as the sleeping watchdog[49].
However, as Charlotte Wagnsson demonstrates, NATO has remained "surprisingly conservative in the European context"[50]. For example, its treaty remained unchanged and "the essential characteristics of NATO as an alliance were maintained", including the collective defence mechanism established in Article 5[51] [52]. Thus, while it is true that "NATO has ambitions and sees itself as something more" than a traditional military alliance, the fact remains that its "self" has failed to go beyond Westphalia and has remained deeply rooted in defence and deterrence[53]. The Ukrainian crisis (2014) corroborates this perspective as it paved the way for the "back to basics" process, whereby NATO relaunched its defence-oriented mandate. The fact that the fundamentals are still the same has been crucial for the new paradigm shift. If, before the annexation of Crimea, the main problem was the lack of cohesion within the organisation, the return of an aggressive Russia and the violation of the territorial integrity of a neighbouring state gave NATO both the purpose and the legitimacy to restore its identity[54]. Recent events have shown how the return to NATO's roots has forced the European Union to adapt and distance itself from the post-Westphalian project. Through the approval of the Strategic Compass, the European Union,
 The European Union is strengthening its security and defence policy as a "NATO complement".[55]. The EU seems to have forgotten its founding narrative and erased its security project, characterised by the resolution of conflicts through peaceful and unprecedented 'creative efforts'.[56]. In its new narrative, it rewrites its past by asserting that NATO is and "remains the foundation of the collective defence of its members".[57]. How can this be if the foundations of NATO and the EU were once not only separate but also oriented in different directions? It can therefore be argued that while the post-Cold War era witnessed a convergence between the two foundations, the resurgence of Russia has reduced NATO and the EU to a darker, more Westphalian grey.


Facing Westphalian threats

The third and final Westphalian force can be found by examining the spectrum of traditional threats that continue to affect the stability of the European order. This analysis will focus on two traditional threats currently facing the EU: the return of Russia's aggressive politics, which has attacked the European 'I' from the outside, and the growing neo-nationalist sentiment which, through populist parties, is undermining the post-Westphalian narrative from within.

On the first point, Viktoria Akchurina and Vincent Della Sala argue that the conflicting narratives and practices promoted by the EU on the one hand and Russia on the other have triggered "an essentially ontological security dilemma"[58]. In their view, "the EU's post-territorial and post-sovereignty narrative was a way of distancing itself from its member states, but in doing so it also distanced itself from Russia's founding narrative, rooted in history and thick forms of belonging."[59] In the European domestic space, borders were conceived as mere administrative instruments, devoid of any symbolic reference to national identity. In contrast, in the Russian World, borders are set 'where [Russian] people live', and 'russeness', i.e. the totality of the biological, ethnic, historical and national components of the Russian people, plays a central role in identifying what is included in the Self and what is excluded from it[60]. These two identities struggle to coexist, as their conflicting narratives make them perceive otherness as an existential threat. For example, while in the EU's narrative, eastward enlargement is a process of peaceful reunification between countries that share the same liberal values and principles and are willing to accept the acquis communautaire, Russia perceives it as an invasion of its sphere of influence. Similarly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which in the Russian narrative is seen as an attempt to reunify the "imagined political space", is perceived by the EU as "Russia's war of aggression".[61] [62]. The renunciation of war as an acceptable means of resolving international conflicts and the attempt to go beyond Westphalia have made the EU a civilian power, unprepared and vulnerable to the return of war to the continent[63]. According to Tardy, "threats such as those from Russia or ISIS show how central a military posture must be; how deterrence, or coercion, is essential to the preservation of stability", and how NATO's military role in the world order remains crucial[64]. This is also the reason why the EU is adapting and transforming itself, moving away from the post-Westphalian project and becoming more and more like NATO.

With regard to the second threat addressed in this analysis, it is necessary to understand, firstly, why populism is a traditional threat and, secondly, how it can jeopardise the post-Westphalian European project. Populism is a traditional threat because it channels neo-nationalist sentiment, which calls for the strengthening of borders and the valorisation of the national dimension. According to the founding fathers, notably the drafters of the Ventotene Manifesto but also Monnet and Schuman, Adenauer and Spaak, nationalism is in itself a permanent threat to international peace. The populist movement 'based on racism, xenophobia and nationalism' aims to reassert an ideology and discourse that dominated the Westphalian state order[65]. The fact that the rise of populist parties has a negative impact on the evolution of the post-Westphalian narrative was demonstrated by the Brexit. Populism creates fragmentation within the EU, strengthens national government and undermines the work of the European institutions. Finally, populism is one of the forces that, during the migration crisis, worked in favour of the "uncoordinated reintroduction of national border controls" by some Member States, excluding the EU from acting as a security actor[66].


Back to basics: a new impetus for the integration process

Since the publication of the European Strategic Compass on 21 March 2022, the European Union has begun to "raise its geopolitical posture", announcing a substantial increase in defence spending and the development of an EU rapid deployment capability by 2025[67]. However, the strategic perspective offered by the Compass does not strengthen the Union's strategic autonomy and does not preserve the post-Westphalian core of European foreign policy. As Riccardo Perissich has pointed out, it is difficult to speak of strategic autonomy and credibility if the European Union continues to regard NATO not as a partner among others, but as a "kind of 'best friend' among friends".[68]. The document does not define the relationship between the EU and NATO, implying that nothing changes and that NATO remains the "main pillar" of defence for most European states. For example, the rapid reaction force, which includes
The 5,000-strong force, far from granting the EU strategic autonomy, is not intended to replace NATO or to integrate Member States' national defence capabilities and competences. Rather, it reaffirms the importance of NATO within the European security governance. Moreover, the geopolitical language that the EU is determined to speak vis-à-vis other international actors, the alliances it has established with its 'partners', the greater emphasis on defence and deterrence, the few words devoted in the document to environmental and social challenges as opposed to military ones and, finally, the emphasis on the need for Member States to invest more in their own security and defence push the EU security project back to the Westphalian black.

If the "Strategic Compass" is not the way to strengthen the EU's capacity to act as a full-fledged security actor, what are the alternatives? One interesting option, strongly supported by federalists and most recently by French President Macron, is the creation of a "genuine European army", as conceived by the founding fathers in the EDC Treaty[69]. In 2015, a similar call for the creation of a European army was made by Jean-Claude Juncker, then President of the European Commission, by Ursula von der Leyen, then German Defence Minister, and then by Chancellor Merkel[70].
Ursula von der Leyen says "our future as Europeans will be with a European army at some point".[71]. Under the Trump administration, as the transatlantic alliance suffered from exclusive US multilateralism, European countries began to seriously consider the possibility of engaging in supranational military integration. The 'pressure to increase their independent security capabilities' faded exponentially when Biden became president and Russia took a more aggressive stance towards the West[72].
The transatlantic alliance has re-emerged stronger thanks to President Biden's commitment to inclusive multilateralism on the one hand, and the Russian threat to European collective security on the other. Although the EU faces a wide range of difficulties if it decides to undertake a project of this magnitude, including the high level of fragmentation, the need to strengthen the European defence budget, strong popular support and the development of a European strategic culture, the idea of a European army also has several positive aspects and outcomes.

Due to the high level of fragmentation, the need to strengthen the European defence budget, strong popular support and the development of a European strategic culture, the idea of a European army also has several positive aspects and outcomes. Firstly, it will increase Europe's independence from NATO and the US partner by restructuring and rebalancing the transatlantic alliance. The transatlantic alliance will be strengthened because the US will be joined and supported by a credible European partner. Secondly, the integration of military capabilities and assets, the creation of a common defence budget and a common army under the supreme command of the EU will oblige Member States to coordinate their actions in the field of security and defence. By losing the monopoly of force and the ability to control national borders, states are likely to become more post-Westphalian. The security of each Member State will be strengthened by a more effective and better prepared military apparatus, and the whole range of challenges that cannot be tackled in isolation will be tackled together through a common effort by the Member States. Following Jean Monnet's Community method, the European army will be the result of a gradual supranational integration process. Starting from the bottom, with the integration of the civil and military industry, the process will gradually lead to the emergence of a new Community and the replacement of national military forces by the common European army. Although the common European army option is strongly advocated by many politicians and academics and has the potential to eliminate one of the Westphalian forces that inhibit the EU in the security field, it is not clear that the EU will be able to act as a global player in post-Westphalian security. Firstly, because other Westphalian forces continue to exert pressure on the EU. Secondly, the EU could potentially become a Westphalian actor itself. In this second case, the stabilising force that the EU was able to exert internationally through its soft power policy will be replaced by a strong and powerful European nation state speaking the language of geopolitics in a new Hobbesian world.

The alternative option supported in this article is the development of a European Union that learns to speak the language of diplomacy loud and clear. The creation of a common European army can be an intermediate functionalist step in the integration process, but it should not become the ultimate goal, which is the abolition of all standing armies and the development of an international security community. In this perspective, the common European army is functional in three respects. First, it could eradicate the legacy of the Westphalian paradigm within the European Union by bringing the Westphalian states definitively into post-modernity. Second, it could redefine the transatlantic partnership in such a way that NATO, conceived as the operational and military arm of the Alliance, will no longer be necessary and will be transformed into a technical international forum for discussion and debate. Thirdly, the European army could function as one of the instruments to preserve and defend post-Westphalian Europe against traditional Westphalian threats, when these threats are acts of military aggression.
At the same time, however, the European military can only play a small role in the fight against this Westphalian third force. Diplomacy and resilience, as other instruments of soft power, are much more effective for this purpose. What is lacking is a European strategic plan that is strong in ambition and political will, and designed to be a driver of change. As Paolo Emilio Taviani, Italian Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, argued in 1952 at an international conference organised by the Genoa Chamber of Commerce on the economic problems of the European federation, "to build a united Europe, you need a strong political will"[73].

"Each of us working in our own field, with our respective tasks, aiming at the same goal, will have earned the merit of building the future of future generations: for peace with security, for freedom with dignity, and for sustainable social progress".[74].



The "residual persistence of the Westphalian norm of sovereignty" in the pan-European space, where the post-Westphalian European project has developed, "is a permanent obstacle to achieving cooperative security outcomes, whether broad or narrowly conceived.[75] As we have demonstrated throughout this paper, the unprecedented leap forward that was made by European states in the aftermath of the Second World War, creating a post-Westphalian security community, was destroyed by a process of adaptation, constrained by a hostile environment and several internal contradictions. The EU has not been able to defend the uniqueness of its identity. It has failed to make "creative efforts proportionate to the dangers that threaten it". It has also failed to preserve peace. These are the reasons for Europe's ontological insecurity, which can only be resolved by a return to its roots or a new historical turn. A creative effort which today can also be criticised as utopian, but which in the future would be called sui generis.


[1] European Union, "Schuman Declaration", (May 1950).

[2] Richard E. Baldwin, "Sequencing and Depth of Regional Economic Integration: Lessons for the Americas from Europe", (World Economy, 2008), Vol. 31, No. 1, p. 6.

[3] Emil Kirchner and James Sperling, 'EU security governance', (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), p. 1.

[4] Andrew Cottey, 'Security in 21st century Europe', (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), p. 13.

[5] Henry Kissinger, "World Order", (New York: Penguin Books, 2014), p. 26.

[6] Robert H. Jackson, Georg Sørensen and Bozzo, L., "Relazioni internazionali", (Milano: Egea, 2018), pp. 16-17.

[7] Ibid. p. 32.

[8] Maria Grazia Melchionni, "Europa unita, sogno dei saggi", (Venezia: Marsilio, 2021), p. 38.

[9] Immanuel Kant and Roberto Bordiga, "Per la pace perpetua" (Feltrinelli Editore, 2013), p. 47.

[10] Ben Rosamond, "Theories of European integration". (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), p. 21.

[11] Richard Falk, "Revisiting Westphalia, Discovering Post-Westphalia", (Springer, 2002), Vol. 6, No 4, p. 312.

[12] Giuliana Laschi, "Storia dell'integrazione europea", (Firenze: Le Monnier Università, 2021), p. 13.

[13] European Union, "Schuman Declaration", (May 1950).

[14] Maria Grazia Melchionni, "Europa unita, sogno dei saggi", (Venezia: Marsilio, 2021), p. 233.

[15] "Resources for the Fouchet Plans - Historical Events in the European Integration Process (1945-2014)", (CVCE website).

[16] Andrew Moravcsik, "De Gaulle between the Grain and the Greatness: The Political Economy of French EC Policy, 1958-1970″, (Journal of Cold War Studies, 2000), Vol. 2, No 3, p. 8.

[17] Roger Massip, "De Gaulle and Europe", (Paris: Flammarion, 1963), p. 147.

[18] Berstein in Andrew Moravcsik, "De Gaulle between Grit and Grandeur: The Political Economy of French EC Policy, 1958-1970″, (Journal of Cold War Studies, 2000), Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 11.

[19] "Resources for the Fouchet Plans - Historical Events in the European Integration Process (1945-2014)", (CVCE website).

[20] Giuliana Laschi, "Storia dell'integrazione europea", (Firenze: Le Monnier Università, 2021), p. 81.

[21] Hungdah SU, "Jean Monnet's Grand Design for Europe and its Criticism", (Journal of European Integration History, 2009), Vol. 15, No 2, p. 42.

[22] Stephen Keukeleire and Tom Delreux, "The Foreign Policy of the European Union", (3rd edition, Bloomsbury, 2022), p. 168.

[23] "Declaration 14", (Official Journal of the European Union, 2016), C_2016202EN.01034301.xml.,

[24] "St. Malo Franco-British Declaration, (CVCE.EU, 1998),

[25] "Mutual defence clause", (Article 42.7 TEU).

[26] Spyros Economides and James Sperling, "EU Security Strategies: Extending the EU System of Security Governance", (Milton: Taylor and Francis, 2017); "European Security Strategy: A Secure Europe in a Better World"," Council of the European Union, 2009, at

[27] "Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe A Comprehensive Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy", (2016).

[28] Maciej Stepka, "Identifying Security Logics in the EU Policy Discourse: the 'migration crisis' and the EU", (S.L.: Springer Nature, 2022), p. 19.

[29] "Resources for composition - European organisations", (CVCE website)

[30] EUR-Lex, "Accession criteria (Copenhagen criteria)" - (EN - EUR-Lex,

[31] "Programme of Action (ECSC, Euratom, EEC) on the Environment, 1973-1976", (, CORDIS | European Commission, 2022).

[32] James Sperling, 'Handbook of governance and security', (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2014), p. 43.

[33] Levi-Faur in James Sperling, "Handbook of governance and security" , (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2014), p. 35.

[34] Ibid, p. 25.

[35] Ben Rosamond, "Theories of European integration". (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), p. 110.

[36] Stephen Keukeleire and Tom Delreux, "The Foreign Policy of the European Union", (3rd edition. Bloomsbury, 2022).

[37] Emil Kirchner and James Sperling, 'EU security governance', (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), p. 3.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Giuliana Laschi, "Storia dell'integrazione europea", (Firenze: Le Monnier Università, 2021), p. 195.

[40] Vincent Della Sala, 'Narrating Europe: the EU's ontological security dilemma', (European Security, 2018), Vol. 27, No 3, p. 270.

[41] European Union, "Schuman Declaration", (May 1950).

[42] Jennifer Mitzen, 2018) 'Feeling at Home in Europe: Migration, Ontological Security and the Political Psychology of EU Borders' , vol. 39, no. 6, p. 1376.

[43] Herz in Emil Kirchner and James Sperling, "EU security governance", (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), p. 3.

[44] Michela Ceccorulli, 'Back to Schengen: the collective securitisation of the EU free-border area', (West European Politics, 2018), Vol. 42, No. 2, p. 314.

[45] Charlotte Wagnsson, "NATO's role in the Strategic Concept debate: Watchdog, fire-fighter, neighbour or seminar leader? "(Cooperation and Conflict, 2011), Vol. 46, No. 4, p. 482.

[46] Cottey in James Sperling, 'Handbook of governance and security', (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2014), p. 214.

[47] Charlotte Wagnsson, James Sperling and Jan Hallenberg, 'European security governance: the European Union in a Westphalian world', (London: Routledge, 2013), p. 13.

[48] Dr. Thierry Tardy lecture "NATO's approach to peace operations and peacebuilding".

[49] Charlotte Wagnsson, "NATO's role in the Strategic Concept debate: Watchdog, fire-fighter, neighbour or seminar leader? "(Cooperation and Conflict, 2011), Vol. 46, No. 4, p. 285.

[50] Ibid. p. 484.

[51] Cottey in James Sperling, 'Handbook of governance and security', (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2014), p. 214.

[52] "The North Atlantic Treaty, (NATO, 1949).

[53] Helene Sjursen, "On the identity of NATO. (International Affairs, 2004), Vol. 80, No. 4, p. 8.

[54] Dr. Thierry Tardy lecture "NATO's approach to peace operations and peacebuilding".

[55] Strategic Compass (2022).

[56] European Union, "Schuman Declaration", (May 1950).

[57] Strategic Compass (2022).

[58] Viktoria Akchurina and Vincent Della Sala, 'Russia, Europe and the Ontological Security Dilemma: Narrating the Emerging Eurasian Space' , (Europe-Asia Studies, 2018), Vol. 70, No. 10, p. 1639.

[59] Ibid. p. 1941.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid. p. 1646.

[62] Strategic Compass (2022), p. 14.

[63] Emil Kirchner and James Sperling, 'EU security governance', (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), p. 3.

[64] Thierry Tardy, "Les risques d'inadaptation de l'OTAN", (European Security, 2020), Vol. 30, No 1, p. 32.

[65] Brent J. Steele and Alexandra Homolar, 'Ontological insecurities and the politics of contemporary populism' , (Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 2019), vol. 32, no. 3, p. 215.

[66] Michela Ceccorulli, 'Back to Schengen: the collective securitisation of the EU free-border area', (West European Politics, 2018), Vol. 42, No. 2, p. 311.

[67] Strategic Compass (2022), p. 6.

[68] Riccardo Perissich, "Europe's Strategic Compass: Merits and Shortcomings", (Istituto Affari Internazionali, 2021), Vol. 21, No 2532-6570, p. 2.

[69] BBC, 'France's Macron pushes for 'true European army'' , (BBC News, 2018).

[70] Sandro Knezović and Marco Esteves Lopes, "The European army concept - an end-goal or a wake- up call for European security and defence? ", (Eastern Journal of European Studies, 2020), vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 345-346.

[71] Dave Keating, 'Juncker calls for an EU army', (POLITICO, 2015).

[72] Maxwell Zhu, 'Obstacles to Macron's "Real European Army"', (Harvard Political Review, 2020).

[73] "Discorso di Paolo Emilio Taviani (Genova, 13 Settembre 1952)", (CVCE, 2012).

[74] Ibid.

[75] Emil Kirchner and James Sperling, 'EU security governance', (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), p. 8.

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