Research objectives

WP 6 – The Foreign and Security Dimension


WP 6 – The Foreign and Security Dimension assesses the status as well as the prospect for democracy within the field of foreign and security policy in Europe. To what extent and in what ways is the realm of foreign and security policy democratised? And is the state form, the organised capacity to act, required for democratic government?

Foreign and security policy is in many ways at the water’s edge of democratic governance. It is within this issue area that the incidence of executive dominance is the most pronounced, at both the EU and the national level. Foreign and security policy is the hard case for those expecting that the EU has progressed beyond an international organisation as well as for those expecting a development of European democracy towards the third model of RECON. The very nature of foreign and security policy is considered alien to supranationalism. Consequently, should the EU develop a robust foreign and security policy, this will be an important indicator of the EU developing into a polity in its own right. But this does not resolve the democratic issue. What might a democratic foreign and security policy look like?

The predominant perception of the foreign policy field is that there will be little onus on collective tasks and obligations beyond the interests and preferences of the member states and that issues of democratic legitimacy will be considered relevant only for the national level. This would be consistent with Model I. WP 6 asks if the internal functioning of the EU’s foreign policy system has moved beyond such intergovernmental problem-solving and towards an autonomous governing capacity. The state-based Model II focuses its attention on internal democratic standards and the state form. According to this model one would expect a certain autonomous governing capacity to have developed. However, according to the established practice in the nation states, the standard for democratic control would perhaps not need to be particularly high. Neither would there be any expectation of consistency between domestic democratic standards and practices and the standards and practices of external policies. Model III presupposes such consistency between internal and external standards, and domestic democratic control is as such not enough.

In order to assess a putative move beyond intergovernmentalism WP 6 analyses the institutions, procedures and decision-making processes that mark out foreign and security policy as a distinct field of policy-making. At what level – national, transnational or supranational – are mechanisms for democratic control developed? The actual convergence or divergence of member states’ perspectives, as well as their ability to come to a common understanding, is also examined. In order to further assess the third model WP 6 investigates the principles that the EU binds itself to in its foreign and security policy, what kinds of standards and policy instruments that the EU has established in order to ensure domestic-external consistency as well as ‘actual’ consistency with regard to concrete cases.

The comparison of the argumentative structures in public debates is an important intake to understand the development of policy choices and assess the prospect of democracy. Does the European public favour one or the other of the three conceptions of European foreign and security policy? In order to investigate this, WP 6 conducts a quantitative and qualitative media content analysis, providing an understanding of the relevance of and the support for the three RECON models as this emerges through public debate. This is not only an empirical test of the three models but has strong policy implications, because it provides a basis for the evaluation of the likely public support of different factions of the public for the institutional choices facing the CFSP in the next decades. Potential national and ideological differences as well as potential differences between institutional and civil society actors are investigated.

WP 6 aims at providing concrete policy recommendations with regard to the policy choices available pertaining to the strengthening of democratic accountability in the field of foreign and security policy as well as of the EU’s role as promoter of democratic principles and human rights externally. WP 6 makes concrete suggestions as to how a potential legitimacy gap in foreign policy may be reduced.