Weiss, Moritz (2009) Transaction costs in the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP): Understanding the United States' impact on European security. In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
The objective of the paper is to introduce a comprehensive approach to the emergence of the European Union’s security and defence policy (ESDP) in 1998/9. In particular, the - direct and indirect - impact of the United States is the focus of the examinations. It is demonstrated that the prominently promoted Realist emphasis of structural power conditions, such as unipolarity and German reunification, is misleading. More importantly, the conceptual lenses of (soft) balancing against and bandwagoning with power cannot grasp the differentiated nature of ESDP and provide, therefore, a flawed approach. In contrast, the paper argues that liberal-institutionalist thought and ‘transaction costs economics’ offer a heuristically promising point of departure. More specifically, it focuses not only on uncertainty and the resulting risks of opportunism, but also on the specificity of those assets that the ESDP has ultimately created. Empirically, it is argued that Britain and France were increasingly confronted with high risks of opportunism within NATO to provide European security. The American commitment to all kinds of security problems had suffered credibility and, therefore, the medium powers had searched for another institutional option to perform this task on a long-term basis. While this assessment of ex post transaction costs triggered the initial establishment of ESDP, ex ante transaction costs were responsible for its more specific design. After all, the superpower and most influential NATO member would not stand aside to watch the creation of a competitor to the Alliance. Hence ESDP had to be compatible with NATO, which was assured by all participants and was subsequently incorporated into the EU's agreements. General, and thus redeployable, military assets represented the institutional solution to the conflict between European autonomy and NATO's primacy.
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