The Evolution of the European Union Security Policies


Security is one of the main elements that determine international relations within the scope of state and sovereignty. This concept has been shaped according to the threats and risks that emerged under different conditions in the historical process. The concept of security has been the most important element for the continuity of political power. In some cases, the efforts made by states in ensuring international security are insufficient, in such a case, regional alliances contribute to ensuring international security. The European Union is an organization that emerged after the end of the Second World War in order to ensure peace and security in the European continent. In this study, the concept of international security has been handled in historical integrity, and the development of security policies in the EU has been analyzed. In addition, the effects of the EU’s security policies on international border security were also examined.

Key Words: European Union, Security, Security Policies, Sovereignty, European Order.


For several centuries, the world order has been shaped around the structure established on the demarcated sovereign state unit. Accordingly, each state had the highest authority within its borders, and other states should respect these sovereign rights. In this period, the world order was structured through basic international legal norms such as the equality of states in the legal plan, the exemption of sovereigns and the doctrine of not interfering with the internal affairs of other states. However, with the globalization process, state sovereignty in the international arena is increasingly subject to regular violations. One of the important areas where these violations are at stake is security. The state-centered and military-oriented security concept conceptualized within the framework of the anarchic structure of the international system has begun to be reconsidered with the end of the Cold War and the impact of the globalization process.

“Security” is a state of being away from fear or danger. By looking at the definition, we can see that security has a psychological and physical dimension. Throughout history, security has been focused more on the physical dimension. It is seen that the concept of security is one of the main determinants that regulate the relations between states. States have placed great importance on their security in order to keep their national borders away from attacks and threats from other states and to ensure public security. Until the beginning of the Cold War, the concept of security was only considered together with individual, state, power and military strategies. At the end of the Cold War, the concept of security was discussed more broadly with the change of parameters that threatened security. Especially after the end of the Cold War and with the effect of globalization, security threats have diversified, so the process of change in the concept of security has accelerated. In the analysis of the concept of security, while only military strategies and analyzes were evaluated before the Cold War, it was seen that the post-Cold War population, political, economic, social and environmental factors were included in the process. Today, the concept of security emerges as a new discipline that can be associated with almost all disciplines. Changing threat perceptions have made it necessary to examine this concept not only on individuals and the state, but also through the international system. The new countries, which gained their independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, faced many obligations, especially security. The end of the Cold War has allowed the approach to the concept to evolve in a way that includes not only the more conventional military security, but also reflections on economic and ecological / environmental factors. In this framework, new security approaches and the concept of security are discussed more broadly.

The European Union has been designed as a project that will contribute to the solution of Europe’s political, economic and social problems. However, the ultimate goal of the EU is to provide peace and stability in this geography and provide its citizens with the opportunity to live in a continent based on the rule of law, respectful of human rights, and tolerance and solidarity. Today, the EU has implemented a wide range of original and successful policies thanks to the institutional structure of the union. Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons for the success of these policies is that a high-cost and long-term security structure was not established during the Cold War. During this period, the EU chose to remain under the NATO umbrella in terms of security. This approach to the development of economic and social policies has not been a problem as long as European countries can rely on NATO. However, with the end of the Cold War, the disappearance of the bipolar system caused this trust relationship to be questioned. This environment of insecurity caused the Union to make an attempt to produce policies in line with the “Europeanization of Security” perspective.

Concept of International Security

As a historical and sociological phenomenon that spread with the French Revolution, the nation-state has been one of the most important tools of nationalism. In the development of the nation-state since the French Revolution, they have risen as independent units in domestic and foreign policy, creating centralization in the power structure, standardization in culture, equalization in law, integration in the economy (Ali Yaşar Sarıbay, 2000).

Especially since the nineteenth century, the international system has been shaped around states. In this context, institutionalization has increased, national identity has been formed and the individual has been turned into a citizen with elements such as political socialization. In order for states to continue their existence and development, their relations with the elements outside their borders as well as the area within their borders are also important. First of all, the primary foreign policy objective of a state is to protect its own existence and to take measures to strengthen the defense of the country for this purpose. In this context, one of the most important goals in foreign policy is the survival of the state, that is, security. Security in international relations has always been defined in different terms.

International security is one of the main determinants of states that are the main actors of international relations, regulating relations between them. International security is primarily the discussion of a state’s relations with other states or a group of states. According to the United Nations General Assembly’s definition of security at the 1987 conference on Disarmament and development, security is a top priority for all nations. Security has not only military, but also political, economic, humanitarian and environmental dimensions.

The vision, peace and stability that came to the fore after World War I will be possible with international law, inter-state cooperation and the development of moral norms (Arı, 1997). Security is a necessary factor both for the survival of human beings in their struggle for survival and for the preservation of the basic values of states.

During the Cold War, in the competitive environment of the bipolar system, security turned into a common action and started to be expressed as international security and became the basic element of international politics. The fact that security is at the center of inter-polar competition has attracted the attention of military experts, strategists, as well as academics, and security studies have taken their place in the discipline of international relations as a major field.

Over time, critical and structural studies have expanded the scope and content of security, while the issue of security, which has begun to be studied multidisciplinary, has become a modern phenomenon, which is considered in the context of threats, interests and protection areas as a phenomenon, policy and discipline.

Formation Processes of the Security Structure in the European Union

The first attempts to achieve political integration in Western Europe started after the Second World War. In 1948, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg came together for economic, social and cultural cooperation and collective defense and signed the Brussels Treaty. Later, the Western European Union was established with the signing of the Paris Treaty in 1954, with the participation of the signatory states of the Brussels Treaty and the Federal Germany and Italy (Tangör, 2009).

The organization, acting in close cooperation with NATO and with the aim of European defense to be made by the Europeans, could not be effective by staying in the shadow of NATO during the Cold War years. Western European Union (WEU) used NATO facilities and capacities in the operations and therefore became completely dependent on NATO. Western European states have tried to develop a common security and defense policy, especially since the 1990s, in order to get rid of this dependency. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as a result of the end of the Cold War, the need of the EU countries for NATO and the USA in the field of security has decreased.

Although a number of structures such as the WEU and the European Defense Community and the European Political Union were introduced in Europe as part of the search for common security during the Cold War, the first important institutional steps in the EU were taken in 1991 with the Maastricht Treaty.

The existence of conflict risks at the regional level has led to the emergence of new security quests among international organizations. Therefore, the European Union has begun to form its own security and defense policies. With the Maastricht Treaty, these goals were achieved and important steps were taken in the field of security. Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and European Security and Defense Identity were realized with this agreement (Karabulut, 2014: 80-81).

CFSP was established as a structure based on intergovernmental cooperation and deriving its power from Chapter 5 of the Maastricht Treaty. According to this agreement: “The protection of the independence of the Union, common interests and common values, strengthening the security of the Union and the member states, strengthening and developing democracy, respecting human rights, obeying the rules of law” (Schirm, 1996: 10). However, the regulations brought by the EU with the Maastricht Treaty could not form an effective CFSP and intervened in conflicts in the Balkans.

In the operations in which NATO was not fully involved at the January 1994 NATO Brussels Summit, the WEU was provided with secure access to NATO assets and capabilities. In NATO, the concept of European security and Defence identity (ESDI) and the concept of a joint Joint Task Force (BMGG), which NATO and WEU have created together, have been developed (RUPP, 2002).

As a result of the desire of European countries to take more responsibility in security and defense policies, the concept of ESDP has been developed to keep the EU’s activities in the field of defense and security under its control. The purpose of ESDP has been determined as the realization of a common defense policy within the framework of the EU and the establishment of a common defense policy. Efforts to form a “European Security and Defense Policy” (ESDP) have been accelerated in order to create the military side of the CFSP.

Important decisions regarding ESDP were also taken at the June 2000 Feira Summit. First of all, the “civilian aspects of crisis management” were strengthened and necessary arrangements were made for the inclusion of non-EU European NATO members in EU-led operations (Açıkmeşe, 2002).

The Council of Europe has placed crisis management at the center of the strengthening process of ESDP. Each subsequent Council of Europe has tried to develop the action capacity of the Union within the scope of ESDP, which is an integral part of CFSP. The structure of ASGP is composed of three parts: Military Crisis Management, Civil Crisis Management and Conflict Prevention (ZHUSSİPBEK, 1962). The “Political and Security Committee” was established to monitor the implementation of the agreed policies. Then, with “Target 2010”, new targets are set in front of ESDP and the deficiencies of ESDP are tried to be eliminated.

Considering that the ESDP should be given the same importance not only in military crisis management but also in civil crisis management, it was decided that civil interventions could be made in four areas at the Feira Summit in 2000. These areas are; It has been determined as ensuring internal security, obeying the rules of law, improving civil administration and civil protection (Karabulut, 2014).

The security issue in the EU has become more important with the terrorist attacks of September 11 (2001), the terrorist attacks in Madrid (2004) and London (2005). In this context, approaches towards the formation of European military forces have gained strength and ESDP has ceased to be defense-oriented and has started to gain a security-oriented dimension (Morkaya, 2014: 71-72). After this period, attempts to institutionalize ESDF have accelerated.

Within the scope of security studies, the European Council adopted the European Security Strategy Document on December 12, 2003 with the decision of “A Safe Europe in a Better World”. This document contains the policies that guide the EU’s international security strategy (İşyar, 2008). The document points out the importance of developing multilateral cooperation process in order to ensure the security of Europe. With the 21st century, security policies in the EU have been tried to be re-determined and ways to combat the security threats of the new century have been sought.

On the other hand, an CSDP, which the EU has made legal by the Lisbon Treaty, is important for transforming security policies into an institutional structure. The Lisbon Treaty includes many new regulations regarding the institutional structure and functioning of the Union in order for the EU to take its place as a stronger actor in world politics in the 21st century. Steps have been taken to achieve an effective security structure within the framework of the newly adopted articles within the scope of the CSDP. By making the CSDP more effective, the EU can pave the way for the EU to become a global actor in the international arena.

Effects of the EU’s Border Security Policies on International Security

Changes in perceptions about security have made an effective border security system a basic requirement for all countries. Security is not only the countries’ own problems but also plays an important role in the establishment of international unity and trust building. The weaknesses of a country in border security affect neighboring and other countries as well. When the European Union (EU), which was established for the purpose of economic integration, reached this goal in 1992, the aim of political integration came to the fore. The EU has targeted that the member states should act jointly on visa procedures to be followed at country entries, immigration, asylum, and the prosecution of cross-border crimes. As a result of the Arab Spring that began in 2011 and the mass influx resulting from the Syrian war, border management has come to a position of importance for all EU countries. The EU needs common practices and decisions on border controls. It has developed an understanding of border management with common practices in the European Union on border controls with Schengen legislation and other EU legislation. In this context, migration has become one of the most important social and economic problems in the EU. Effective border protection has been vital for the EU, as international migration, terrorism and organised crime have steadily increased.

When border security started to pose a threat to the countries and the union, the units responsible for the European Union border security started to be formed in order to prevent this. One of the most important and known as FRONTEX, the full name of the agency is the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX, 2016). Frontex is an EU institution established to manage cooperation at the external borders of EU member states and to ensure the security of their borders. It was established to ensure the security of the borders with neighboring countries that are not members of the Union.

Apart from FRONTEX, two other units responsible for border security are the European Asylum Support Office EASO and EURODAC. While EASO is responsible for the establishment of a common asylum system, EURODAC is a system created by taking the fingerprints of asylum seekers over the age of 14 and recording their identities.

Indeed, the influence of the European Union’s security policies has undertaken the task of ensuring lasting peace and stability beyond its borders through development and foreign aid programs, enlargement policy and CFSP. In this context, it can be said that the policy of establishing partnerships with enlargement policy and EU neighbors, which aims to transform societies through EU policies, constitute the most important means of ensuring security and stability of the EU (Nowak, 2006, p. 9).

The security policies under the jurisdiction of the EU include logistics and armament policies, harmonization of crisis management procedures and the development of European capabilities.


Security has been one of the leading issues of human beings since the first day of their existence. Today, security parameters have expanded with globalization and security has become the most important actor for states. The European Union went through a successful process in the field of economic integration in the formation process, and then focused on political integration. The European continent has shaped world politics as a place where wars and conflicts have continued throughout history and entered an integration process within itself after the second world war. During the Cold War, the security structures of European states were realized under the umbrella of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. It has been agreed among the member states of the Union that it has autonomous operational capacity, backed by reliable military forces, and that it is available and used to respond to international crises. The idea of ​​creating an CFSP independent from NATO has emerged. With the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, a very important step was taken in the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the process of political integration started. Although the EU has tried to contribute to both regional and global security with the operations it has carried out within the scope of ESDP, it has been observed that it has not reached a sufficient level to ensure international peace. On the other hand, it is possible to say that the EU has brought a new dimension and vision to the European Union in terms of Security and Defense Policies with the Lisbon Treaty (2007) and that the decisions taken draw the future framework of CFSP and ESDP. In the following periods, the change in perceptions about security made an effective border security system a basic requirement for all countries. As a result of the mass influx caused by the Arab Spring and the Syrian war that started in 2011, border management has reached an important position for all EU countries. With the institutions responsible for border security FRONTEX, European Asylum Support Office EASO and EURODAC, the EU has tried to create a strong structure on security. In the next period, the EU wants to ensure its own security and to take an active role in crisis and conflict areas, independent of the USA and NATO. It has not been able to gather the security policies developed by the EU until today under a common roof. Although the point reached cannot meet the expectations of the international community in the context of the EU’s contributions to global security, the positive aspects of the EU on security are undeniable. 


Uluslararası Örgütler Staj Programı


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