European security policy for the people? Public opinion and the EU’s Common Foreign, Security and Defence policy

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Series Details Vol.23, No.4, December 2014, p388-408
Publication Date December 2014
ISSN 0966-2839
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The democratic foundations of European integration in the foreign and defence realm are increasingly being debated. This article looks at the question of democratic legitimacy from one particular angle, by examining public opinion as measured in Eurobarometer surveys between 1989 and 2009. Based on reflections about the relation between polling results and wider questions of democracy, it examines three aspects of public opinion: general support for a common foreign and a common defence policy; differences among support rates in EU member states; and what roles Europeans would prefer for European armed forces. It turns out that general support for a common foreign policy is high, whereas the desirability of a common defence policy is much more contested. Moreover, citizens across Europe would prefer European armed forces to take on traditional tasks, as territorial defence. An EU defence policy that goes beyond strict intergovernmentalism and is directed towards protecting international law and universal human rights would thus require a significant communicative effort to become accepted.

This article is part of the forum 'The EU's Common Security and Defence Policy and the Challenge of Democratic Legitimacy beyond the Nation-State'.

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