"Balancing Global Influence: The "transatlantic conflict syndrome" and the CFSP"

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Maria. Strömvik
conference paper description
Despite the many and highly publicised failures of the EU to agree in the field of foreign and security policy, the EU members have gradually and successively developed their cooperation in this area over time. By focusing not primarily on the absence (or failure) of a common foreign and security policy (CFSP) between the EU members, but rather on the successively intensified cooperation since 1970, and asking for possible explanations, this paper shows that realism can offer a component to the analysis of the CFSP that has often been overlooked by realist scholars themselves. By (re)interpreting the centuries-old balance-of[-]power thesis, seeing it as a mechanism through which states will strive for international influence rather than power in its purely material sense, this study shows the continued relevance of certain realist wisdom. One very important part of the history of the CFSP turns out to be a history of trying to collectively balance US influence, primarily in other parts of the world. And, while it is indeed – as any realist would point out – difficult to cooperate in the high politics sphere, it is precisely this "balance-of-influence" logic that explains why the CFSP (as well as its predecessor EPC) nonetheless has developed remarkably over time. As shown in this paper, the CFSP has repeatedly intensified following transatlantic disagreements, primarily over international security management. Therefore, while successive institutional changes have locked in this stepwise development, this "cycle" of intensified foreign and security policy cooperation has been repeatedly set in motion by diplomatic quarrels across the Atlantic.