New threats – different response: EU and NATO and Somali piracy

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Series Details Vol.23, No.4, December 2014, p546-564
Publication Date December 2014
ISSN 0966-2839
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When the European Union (EU) launched its first military naval mission, EU NAVFOR Somalia, Atalanta, the states who are members of both the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) made a political choice: to prioritize the EU over NATO in their multilateral military efforts to fight piracy and its consequences. Thereby, Atalanta challenges the conventional assumption that EU security cooperation will remain limited. It also challenges the widely held belief that the European states will chose to act through NATO if dealing multilaterally with international security issues. How can we explain this decision? This analysis suggests that it can be explained in two phases where different mechanisms were at work. In the first phase, which can be accounted for from a neo-realist perspective, France, who held the Presidency, used particular favorable geopolitical conditions to put an autonomous EU operation on the agenda. However, agreement on the EU option cannot be explained as a result of strategic bargaining. Instead, in a second phase and in line with an alternative hypothesis building on the theory of communicative action, the EU member states came to support the French suggestion due to legitimacy considerations regarding the legal framework of the two operations.

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