United in Ambiguity? EU and NATO Approaches to Hybrid Warfare and Hybrid Threats

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Series Details Volume 2017, Number 5
Publication Date April 2017
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‘Hybrid warfare’, sometimes known as ‘hybrid threats’, became a trendy buzzword in recent years, used to describe a panoply of seemingly different threats. While neither the European Union (EU) nor the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) appear to have a clear definition of this term, both organisations are taking steps to ‘counter hybrid’.

This paper explores why this terminology has been adopted by both organisations and seeks to understand how this semantic choice influenced their respective policy responses as well as their cooperation. By analysing what hybrid means and which actors are designated with this label, I show that both NATO and the EU used hybrid to describe their vulnerability to a rapidly changing strategic environment. Although no final definition of hybrid has materialised, the term has allowed for increased informal and formal NATO-EU cooperation.

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