Loughborough University
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The European Union and NATO Beyond Berlin Plus: the institutionalisation of informal cooperation

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posted on 2014-03-24, 12:28 authored by Simon J. Smith
For a decade, the EU and NATO have both claimed to have a relationship purported to be a Strategic Partnership . However, this relationship is widely understood by both academics and practitioners to be problematic. Although not denying that the relationship is problematic, it is claimed here that the argument, whereby the EU and NATO simply do not cooperate, is very limited in its value. In fact, it is argued that the two organisations cooperate far more, albeit less efficiently, outside of the formal Agreed Framework for cooperation. According to the formal rules of Berlin Plus/Agreed Framework (BP/AF), the EU and NATO should not cooperate at all outside of the Bosnia Herzegovina (ALTHEA) context. This is clearly not the case. The fundamental aim of this thesis is to investigate how this cooperation - beyond the BP/AF has emerged. Above all, it asks, within a context where formal EU-NATO cooperation is ruled out, what type of cooperation is emerging? This thesis attempts to explain the creation and performance of the informal EU-NATO institutional relationship beyond Berlin Plus. This thesis, drawing on insights from historical institutionalist theory and by investigating EU-NATO cooperation in counter-piracy, Kosovo and Afghanistan, puts forward three general arguments. First, in order for informal EU-NATO cooperation to take place outside of the BP/AF, cooperation is driven spatially away from the central political tools of Brussels, towards the common operational areas and hierarchically downwards to the international staffs and, in particular, towards the operational personnel. Second, although the key assumptions of historical institutionalism (path dependency, punctuated equilibrium and critical junctures) help to explain the stasis of the EU-NATO relationship at the broad political and strategic level, a more complete understanding of the relationship is warranted. Including theoretical assumptions of incremental change helps to explain the informal cooperation that is now driving EU-NATO relations beyond Berlin Plus. Finally, this thesis makes the fundamental claim that the processes of incremental change through informal cooperation reinforce the current static formal political and strategic relationship. Events and operational necessity are driving incremental change far more than any theoretical debates about where the EU ends and NATO begins. Until events force a situation whereby both organisations must revisit the formal structures of cooperation, the static relationship will continue to exist, reinforced by sporadically releasing the political pressure valve expedited through the processes of informal cooperation. If the EU and NATO are to truly achieve a Strategic Partnership , it will stem from an existential security critical juncture and not from internal evolutionary processes.





  • Social Sciences


  • Politics and International Studies


© Simon J. Smith

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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