“Lessons from EU Space Programmes for Collective Defence”, Ediz Topcuoglu and Salih Bora (College of Europe, Bruges)

The European Defence Fund (EDF) has been interpreted by a number of scholars as a step beyond intergovernmental cooperation and towards the introduction of supranationalism in defence policy. We suggest that past developments in space policy can be a guide for developments in the defence area given the functional dependencies between the two fields and their institutional similarities. Based on this, we believe that the Commission will be unable to convert its new authority over the EDF into actual influence over use of force. On the contrary, the EDF may signal that European defence industrial policy is increasingly motivated by civilian and predominantly commercial considerations, dissociated from the operational objectives of national defence policies. Like the EDF, the European Union’s (EU’s) space programmes involve the supranational financing of militarily relevant capabilities. We argue that Member States have accepted supranationalism in space policy insofar as the Commission was able to civilianize matters of industrial governance and keep them separate from the conduct of military operations. We show that the EU implemented civilian programmes in areas that were otherwise driven by national militaries. In instances where civilianization was impossible, Member States’ security interests are preserved through intergovernmental modes of decision-making, even within purportedly ‘community’-driven processes. Member States have also retained significant control over future developments by exploiting a web of overlapping institutions and hazy task allocation.

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