Directed by: Vicki Birchfield (Nunn School); John Krige (History and Sociology); Katja Weber (Nunn School)
In 2012 the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee awarded the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize for what it saw as the EU’s “most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.” In announcing the award the Committee stressed the EU’s role in fostering peace among the original member states, promoting democracy through enlargement and encouraging reconciliation and respect for human rights in the countries on its borders. As we mark a number of momentous anniversaries – the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War; the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome; and the 100thanniversary of the end of the First World War– this is an appropriate time to reflect on European integration’s successes and short-comings as a peace project. Such reflection is particularly appropriate given the new security challenges that Europe faces, most notably Russian aggression in Ukraine and terrorism, most recently in Paris.
We organized a workshop (13-14 Nov. 2015) on The EU as a Peacemaker and Peacekeeper at Georgia Tech, which brought together leading historians and political scientists from both sides of the Atlantic to consider the legacy and future of European integration as a peace project.
Four themes dominated the workshop papers:
- First, there has never been a clear distinction between internal and external security in the European integration project. The Cold War and relations with the U.S. profoundly shaped the interactions among the British, French and Germans at the outset of European integration. Conversely, European integration has, throughout its history, had implications (often unintentional) for stability and perceptions of threat in neighboring countries.
- Second, the European peace project has passed through successive, if often overlapping, chronological phases with different security challenges and different approaches predominant in each. At the outset the focus was the ‘double containment’ of Germanrevanchism and Soviet expansion and was pursued through functional integration. Then the focus became the consolidation of democracy on the EU’s borders through enlargement, first in Greece, then Iberia, and then in central and eastern Europe. Subsequently, the EU has sought to foster human rights beyond its (expanded) borders, often by relying on instruments similar to enlargement, but without the prospect of membership. The EU’s efforts to promote security further afield have been episodic, with the Iran nuclear agreement standing out as the shiniest example.
- Third, the security situation in Europe today, as the tragic events in Paris underlined, is profoundly different than that which prevailed when European integration started. The Cold War is over and the threat of conflict among states has receded, while new and more amorphous threats have emerged to test European integration.
- Fourth, despite all of the changes in terms of threats and instruments, there has been a remarkable consistency in the tensions among the member states about closer integration and in the emphasis on institution building and the neglect of strategy.
The papers have been accepted for a special issue of the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, which is due to appear at the beginning of 2017.
21 Jan 2016 Caroline Vicini, Deputy Ambassador of the EU to the U.S. spoke on “The Transatlantic Agenda 2016.” Co-sponsored with the Atlanta Council on International Relations. A video of her talk is available here.
21 Jan 2016 Panel discussion on the “Refugee Crisis in Europe” with Caroline Vicini, Deputy Ambassador of the EU to the U.S.; Thomas Wulfing, Deputy Consul General of Germany; and John Parkerson, Honorary Consul General of Hungary. Co-sponsored with the Atlanta Council on International Relations.
13 Nov. 2015 Lord William Wallace, Barron Wallace of Saltaire gave a public lecture on “European Diplomacy Since the Cold War: How Ambitious, How Inhibited?”
28 Oct. 2015 the French Ambassador to the U.S. Araud spoke at Georgia Tech