EU Security Policy: Contrasting Rationalism and Social Constructivism

Working Paper, NUPI

There are two very different stories that can be told about EU security policy during 2003. On the one hand, some argue that the deep division among important EU countries in relation to the Iraq war is a final confirmation of the absence of an EU security policy. On the other hand, some argue that the last year has been a year of considerable intensity in relation to EU security policy – despite the fact that EU cannot yet be characterised as a unitary actor. One of the reasons for these very different stories is that they are based on fundamentally different ideas and theories about the basic mechanisms in international relations. In this paper Pernille Rieker will contrast how two different approaches, namely Rationalistism and Social constructivism would analyse EU security policy. The paper starts with a short presentation of the meta-theoretical foundation of these approaches. The second part discusses how each of them views the conditions for multilateral cooperation and security. In the third part these perspectives on EU security policy will be discussed and some empirical data that support each of them will be presented. Finally, the paper ends on a discussion concerning whether these approaches must be seen as being alternative or complementary approaches.